I cannot open a browser without a picture of Steve Jobs staring out at me. What makes it even more poignant is that I am opening that browser with my MacBook Pro , my iPad or my iPhone.
You see a friend of mine once told me that if I wanted to be free, why not be free now. He was talking about buying a Mac and tossing the virus ridden-PC/NT/Windows world aside once and for all. In 2006 I did just that. Haven’t had to deal with a virus ever since.
I do deal with this though.
It’s the pin wheel that goes up on the screen when your Apple Computer is digesting something it can’t quiet handle.
For all Jobs did, he never quite got around to getting rid of this pain-in-the-ass.
But in the scheme of thongs it is gnat because the rest of Apple Computing world is free.
I never met Jobs. I met many of the L’Enfant Terrible’s of the valley but I missed Steve. Oh, I knew people who knew him. Some knew him very well.
I knew Jonathan Schwartz the guy who presided over the Sunset of Sun Microsystems. I was the HR dweeb in charge of the acquisition of his little software company back in 1996. Jonathan really respected Jobs and told me more than once that he would was going to vest his Sun shares and then leave the company and go to work for Steve at NeXT. Of course he never went. He stayed and rose from a director to CEO and NeXT was bought by Apple so that Jobs could come home and save the company he had co-founded and then had been fired from.
The two friends took divergent paths. Both became CEO’s (again). Yes, that part matched. But where Jobs knew exactly what he needed to do, Schwartz didn’t.
The difference was that Jobs wouldn’t give up on his vision where Jonathan had none. Not really. The only thing that could take Jobs out was disease and death (the end of most of us). McNealy, Schwartz’s predecessor knew that Sun’s day was over so he brokered a deal with “The Larry”. And that ended that.
The company where I prospered and enjoyed working at better than all of the others (Sun) was put of out of its pain because it leaders, in the end, couldn’t make the tough decisions.
But Jobs could and did make those decisions. That’s what set him aside from most Silicon Valley leaders (leaders with a small “l”). He channeled Howard Roark, didn’t give a damn and did what he saw was right.
Schwartz was everyman even though he would never admit it. Jobs was not everyman and he wouldn’t have cared if you got that or not.
It is a sad commentary on me that I could have worked for Jonathan though. I liked him. He was approachable and smart. Just not the genius-creator visionary that Jobs was.
Too many people are saying that about Jobs right now and I am just a small voice in the great ocean of employees and former employees of Silicon Valley tech companies. But I was a warrior too. I knew the fight. I went through the battle. I won and lost and always showed up for the next game. In the end I worked for myself even if it was a company of one.
But never for Apple. I never really wanted to work there. I was concerned what would happen if Jobs and I collided.He could be a terrible swift sword if you didn’t say what he wanted to hear and one of my weaknesses was saying exactly that. What they didn’t want to hear.
He was uncoachable you see. I am talking about from an HR perspective. Not from the creative genius perspective. But in the end that was all that mattered. He drove the engine that created products that I now use and value.
Good-bye Steve Jobs. I never knew ya. It was all for the good.
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