Toward the end of his life, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs – widely recognized as a genius – issued a warning to President Barack Obama.
That’s one of the intriguing details in Mr. Jobs’ authorized biography, “Steve Jobs.” Messrs. Jobs and Obama met in a tense meeting for 45 minutes in 2010.
Authored by Walter Isaacson after 40+ interviews, the Simon & Schuster book reveals Mr. Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell, scheduled the meeting with the president. It was held at a San Francisco airport hotel.
About a conversation between the couple, the author writes:
President Obama was “really psyched to meet you” Ms. Powell informed her husband. The author indicates Mr. Jobs responded with anger – he felt the president should have personally asked for a meeting.
Mr. Jobs told the president that the U.S. needed to work for a warm, economic climate. Mr. Jobs explained why businesses build factories in China – fewer regulations and less costs.
The problem was that Mr. Obama didn’t get the message about jobs. Millions were created but most was only part-time and did not pay family wages.
Mr. Jobs also had harsh words for education – ineffective teachers were protected by the unions and principals were shackled in trying to hire good teachers.
The book portrays the genius, not surprisingly, as creative. His other attributes: sensitive, intense, and he had a temper.
When the new Android software seemed to be a replica of Apple’s, Mr. Jobs characterized Google as having committed “grand theft.”
He told author Isaacson: “I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
Yes, he was competitive.
“Our lawsuit is saying, ‘Google, you f—ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off,” said Mr. Jobs according to the author. “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”
Millions of his iPhone4S were sold as customers paid tribute to Mr. Jobs in lining up to spend an aggregate $1.2 billion. Being much respected the outpouring of affection and sentiment upon his death was to be expected.
In the last decade, only one other businessperson received such adulation – Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. His folksy demeanor and strong advocacy for adopting children sparked massive sentiment for him. Upon Mr. Thomas’ death, Wendy’s sales skyrocketed, too.
Mr. Jobs’ biography is well worth reading.
As a business-performance consultant, I’m not in agreement with the universal adulation of Mr. Jobs as a businessperson because of his lack of vision in three ways:
- The offshoring Foxconn scandal concerning the production of Apple products. I don’t agree Mr. Jobs exercised enough leadership in in economic patriotism.
- At some point, Apple will suffer from a market correction because of security issues in Mac products.
- The goverment’s allegations of e-book pricing fixing.
But Mr. Jobs was a true genius on a lot of things including the economy — onerous government regulation of business and the creation of jobs.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are related posts:
“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”