Rachel Rofe’

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Why do people idolize Steve Jobs?

I am about 42% through with Steve Jobs’ biography.

It does seem like the biographer went out of his way to look objective with his book, maybe to the point of making Steve seem more of a jerk than he is…

But dude seems like a total asshole.

Other things I’ve read/heard confirm that.

I know he made the Mac, and I know people love it, and I know he is behind a lot of things that make my life better. I love my iPad and my iPhone.

I have a Mac too. I bought it because every marketer seemed to be talking about how great the Mac was… and so when my (AMAZING) PC got stolen from my car, I took it as a sign to buy the MacBook Pro.

Now I’m used to it, and love programs like Screenflow… but I really don’t understand what the cult following is about. Truthfully I prefer the PC.

In reading Steve’s biography, here are some things that really stood out to me:

1. Steve had a great friend who stuck with him for YEARS… even when he abandoned his daughter. His friend lived with him, helped him with Apple, etc… and then when it was time to give out Apple shares, Steve insisted his friend didn’t deserve the shares because he wasn’t upper level enough.

His friend was shocked. He’d been with Steve and helped him out for a LONG time. He just assumed Steve would take care of him down the line.

Many people thought Steve’s friend was right… that Steve should take care of him. One person who did have stock went up to Steve and told him he’d happily match the amount of stock Steve gave his friend. Steve’s reply? “OK… I’ll give him zero.”

For someone who allegedly wasn’t about the money, that sucks.

2. When he was laying people off at one of his other companies (NeXT I believe, but it might have been Pixar), he wanted to lay hard-working people off with no severance pay and no two week notice. These are people that worked VERY hard for him (lots of hours, and also a lot of aggravation considering how hostile Steve was).

When someone told Steve he should at least give the people he was laying off two weeks’ notice, he said “Okay… we’ll do that. The two weeks is retroactive from two weeks ago.”

I know he had been overfunding the company, but dude.

Again… for someone who is allegedly not about the money, that’s really messed up.

3. He treated people like CRAP!!! Stories of people getting him birthday presents he left in his hotel room, talking down to people, trying to oust people from their positions, cheating Wozniak out of bonus money that wouldn’t have even been made had Wozniak not done the work…

He just seems like he has very little integrity and is NOT someone I would respect.

I know he made a big impact and transformed the world, but so did Hitler.

I’m not saying he’s like Hitler. I’m just saying that solely transforming the world isn’t a reason to idolize someone.

He does have some great products that I love. He’s an amazing marketer. He (allegedly) cares a lot about user experience (though part of me wonders how much that is just his ego loving the control).

Ugh, and that part about how he felt he was enlightened… makes me feel sick.

I’m not saying he was some evil dark force, but I definitely don’t find him enlightened. I find him selfish, an egomaniac, completely devoid of empathy, and mindblowingly self-centered.

Does this say something about me? Am I getting frustrated about some “shadow” part of me?

Possibly. I don’t think so though. I don’t feel an emotional charge around this. I just feel sad that this is the type of person people are idolizing.

If someone wants to aggrandize a person for changing the world, there are many better choices. Why not go with Mother Teresa? Gandhi?

ANYONE who seemed to think beyond themselves.

My lord.

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15 comments on “Why do people idolize Steve Jobs?

  1. Good on you for calling it, Rachel!

  2. Interesting point!

    I am wondering the same thing. I think it has to do a lot with marketing actually. Apple is trying very hard to be seen as “exclusive” and special and a lot of people want to belong to the “tribe”. I personally love the Mac OS ( and iOS) operating system more than the actual hardware. It’s very stable and I never had this with PC before.

    Once I used to be one of those total Apple weirdos who would talk you into getting a Mac and blabber on and on about it. Will probably still try today, but not the same way :)

    To be honest, since doing more marketing myself in the last years, I’m trying to find out where this crazy feeling comes from…? Is it the “exclusivity”? Hip? Coolness? Tribe?

    I don’t like seeing people going too crazy into an “object”. This is superficial and unimportant.

    (My God, I heard of a boy in Chine who donated his liver for an iPad. Sick!)

    Anyway, but I find it fascinating and want to understand why this happens…

    I myself am not even looking into other computers when I need a new one. Like the OS too much for the user experience and stability. But I don’t like the “cult” side of it.

    I might start covering the Apple logo from now on :)

    About Steve Jobs… don’t know… Probably a complete jerk.

    It’s the same in many areas. Many great artists who are jerks too. They still make good music or films or whatever. I try to not get too distracted by their personas…

    See you around Rachel :)

    Metodi

  3. Rachel,
    I haven’t read the book yet, but this makes me more interested to read it. If he sounds this bad in the authorized biography, what was he really like? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Matson

  4. Who was the friend?

    Some one who worked at apple?

    I wonder (from what I have read) if he was even happy

  5. As Walter Isaacson said, “You have to judge people by the outcome,” says Isaacson, the former editor of Time magazine who has written bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein and who is also president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit focused on education issues.

    “In the end, Steve Jobs had four loving children who were all intensely loyal to him and a wife who was his best friend for 20 years. At work he ends up with a loyal professional team of A players at Apple who swear by him and stay there, as opposed to other companies that are always losing good talent. In the end he was an inspiring person. He inspired loyalty and real love. So you judge him by that.”

    Also worth noting, Isaacson says, is that when it came to tough talk, Jobs could take as well as give. Jobs respected and even rewarded people who would argue with him. “In the early days at Apple they used to give an award to whoever stood up to Steve the best,” Isaacson says. “Those people often ended up getting PROMOTED.”

    Walter Isaacson Behind the Scenes: Writing His Steve Jobs Biography http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/10/26/walter-isaacson-behind-the-scenes-writing-his-steve-jobs-biography.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/mona-simpsons-eulogy-for-steve-jobs.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/business-executives-steve-jobs-walter-isaacson-biography-management-2011-12#comment-4edf986e69bedda00f000029#ixzz1fsBqxgz0

  6. “This IS SHIT”– love those words from Steve Jobs which he intentionally uttered as he confronts an Apple employee trying to ‘pitch’ a new product/prototype/idea in front of him! To me, Steve as the Apple CEO played the ‘role’ of representing the “status quo” (Mona Simpson’s eulogy mentioned Steve did not mind being mis-understood) and it is up to the Apple employee to have the audacity and conviction to prove that Steve “the status quo” needs to change!

    My insight as to his seeming ‘ intentional brusqueness” was his way of encouraging his employees to challenge him and the status quo (his Apple ‘crazy ones’ Ad stated that the ‘crazy ones’ have NO respect for the status quo)–as a result, it made Apple the most innovative, progressive company ever! No wonder those brave Apple employees who had the gall and the guts to stand up against Steve are the ones he promoted as executives of his company! (kindred spirits)

    That is what is impressive about Steve–he is willing to be challenged, and if you prove to him that your point/ idea/product is greater or better than his existing one–he is willing to listen, and implement the new idea, even if it is NOT his!! That is a mark of a confident LEADER! Willing to be proven wrong, and humble enough to admit it!

  7. Rachel…..sometimes the most despised peeps are the same ones who BRING OUT THE BEST IN US. I doubt many players who were coached by the legendary foot ball coach Vince Lombardi loved playing for him…..but almost to a man……after the fact they all love him for bringing out the very best they had to give.

    We don’t owe anyone anything in this world but our best.

    Steve’s legacy is in tact. He changed the world…….he gave it all until he had nothing left to give. And I suspect anyone in his circle who didn’t subscribe to that……got the wrath. But hey…aint nobody forced anyone to work for him either.

    Steve wasn’t a sheep who followed the herd off to slaughter…….he didn’t cliff dive with 95% of the population worried about the frigging Jones Family. He did it the Frank Sinatra Way…..His Way. Like it, hate it, better live with it……..cuz how many people can say they changed the world for the better? Doesn’t require being a “nice guy” to do so. Peace, Vegas Vince

  8. Sometimes it’s not enough to be a good businessman. You need to be a good person too. It seems people are willing to overlook a lot just because he make cool stuff. He absolutely was innovative and changed the way that we think about a lot of our gadgets, but in the end how much does that cover. How much are we willing to forgive just because he made some gadgets and convinced everybody that they could not live without them.

    I played college football for four years and have taken a lot of shouting at by coaches. There is a fine line between tough coaching that improves you and vindictive coaching that tears you down. I would run through a brick wall for most of my coaches. The coaches who degraded their players were the ones that everybody hated playing for. I’ll never despise anybody for tough love and trying to make me better. Firing people without notice doesn’t really fit that standard. From some of what I have read, here and elsewhere, Jobs did not care about or respect people. We wouldn’t stand for elementary school teachers using the same methods. We wouldn’t stand for police officers treating people this way. We don’t want pastors to lead their congregations this way. Why should our standard of decency be any different just because the guy makes computers.

  9. That was interesting. I don’t own any apple products because I’ve heard some bad things about the way they do business (PS: Gandhi actually is my personal idol!)

  10. I personally do NOT “idolize” any one. That’s left for 95% of the population comprised of sheep and lemmings all to happy to follow the cliff divers off a cliff because there’s safety in numbers.

    Granted I respect many people. In terms of a man who took shit for 50 years……brutal hypocritical harassment by those who “protested” a bit too much aka The Meese Comish, Hoover, Reagon, Nixon, and every feminist group in the country….Hugh M Hefner stood tall and took the blows under intense government eye balls.

    Interesting to note the Meese ended up in jail for federal crimes and we know the stories about Hoover and the rest of the self righteous moral majority….most of whom are freakier then you think. Ask Elliot Spritzer…the former NY Gov who wanted to rid the city of hookers only to be caught with one.

    Ask Idaho politician Mr. Clark…..who was so “anit-Gay” it came as no surprise he got busted in a men’s room soliciting “oral sex”. And Jim Bakker…and the list goes on and on. Find me someone who protest a bit to much and most likely they are guilty as sin of the very ideals they “protest.”

    How ironic that the very same feminist who bashed him 50 years ago are now recognizing that it was Hefner who fought for a woman’s right to contraceptives. How ironic that Ron Paul lovers forget that it was Hefner who was among the first who recognized that people being imprisoned for decades for small amounts of marijuana was bullshit….and he changed many a case law. Hefner supported decriminalization decades ago.

    It was Hefner who remains the only “white man” to ever receive the NAACP IMAGE AWARD because when prime time tv told him “no blacks will perform”….Hef said Fuck YOU…..I will film it out of my mansion…..and Sammy Davis and so many others were given opportunities that no one else had the balls to give.

    He created one of the longest running Jazz Festivals ……..was falsely accused of being a drug deal , lost his secretary to suicide because she would not LIE and tell the feds Heff sold drugs. He dealt with the murder of Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratton and flew his giant jet to Vietnam to rescue dozens of orphan babies.

    And yet there are still who consider this man a PORNOGRAPHER. I say he’s a legend.

    It’s amazing to me that we can read one book and base an opinion on Steve Jobs and pick apart the “bad” in him…….which isn’t hard to do with anyone.

    I didn’t know Steve Jobs, Rachel. But I’ve been to the Mansion….I’ve booked many a Playmate for night club promotions and for a man who started a magazine 60 some years ago……I have no problem saying I have nothing but love for the man and his legacy and his balls to fight a government that never stopped trying to “get him.” They never did. And when the FEDS go after your ass…..most of the time you lose. HEF won.

    Steve Jobs is dead. I’m sure the book shelves will be filled with stories of the good the bad the ugly and the total bullshit……but Vinnie don’t buy into the hype. He was what he was. An innovator who was a true bad ass. That’s good enough for me. Kissing babies is not a prerequisite for being “worthy.”

    As someone fighting cancer now….I find it offensive that every one seems to miss the point that Jobs KNEW HE WAS GOING TO DIE….AND YET THE SHOW WENT FUCKING ON.

    So bash, trash, and wonder……he’s not around to defend himself….but his products still are. And how many of us are going to get buried in the ground and leave a legacy that matches his?

    Rachel….you can hate Steve Jobs all u like. Love who u like. But casting stones based on a lot of “brave people” selling their shit to tabloids isn’t exactly credible to me. Perhaps we should all worry about ourselves.

    xxx Vegas Vince

  11. p.s. to a certain someone: it’s often easier to find faults in others then look at the man or woman in mirror and figure out why the fuck we are so “unhappy”. I suspect Steve Jobs who worked his ass off and had more money then he could spend was “happy” doing what he loved. To those of u who do shit that sucks and you hate……others are easy targets and often buffer your own self loathing. xxx Vegas Vince

  12. I don’t idolize him and I haven’t seen people around me going nuts over him but I do appreciate what he has done with apple. I love apple products. After reading this article, I really don’t know who he is anymore.

  13. Apple products are made in sweatshops accross the developing world. For instance, the newest iPad which retails for $499 costs only $11 in labor to produce. These people are forced to work standing 16+ hour days with timed bathroom breaks (they time them with a key card). The conditions are so bad that people have started jumping out of upper level windows to commit suicide. These factories have since started barring the windows and in some cases have just put up nets under each of the windows instead to save money.
    Apple’s profit margins are some of the highest in the electronics world. Overpriced products… putting the squeeze on foreign labor… Yeah, right… he wasn’t about the money… Everything I know about his business practices tells me he was a piece of shit.
    He was really good at marketing. That’s it. His marketing made you feel special for owning an apple product. Well, not me. I don’t own a single overpriced Apple piece of jank.

  14. love Steve Jobs, I always loved him. I love it as entrepreneur not just because he was Apple CEO

  15. I agree with you completely, I’ve never understood the cult following. When people are abrasive and act like they’re experts and everyone who disagrees just is inferior, just “doesn’t get it”… unfortunately, there’s this delusion that if someone can tell lots of people their work is crap, that means he knows what he’s talking about – so you’d better be on his side or that ridicule might be directed at you next. In reality, it doesn’t mean anything, except what it says about the person’s character…
    When a person belittles, shows a lack of understanding of/regard for others’ well-being, it’s not to “inspire the best” in others. It’s not “demanding excellence,” it’s not innovation, it’s not genius. Those are justifications for behaviors that are always rooted in weakness, immaturity, and ignorance.
    I also think some people just want to believe they’re special, “square pegs” – they don’t have to work hard and finish school like the rest of us, they don’t have to treat others with respect, they are entitled to always getting their way, they can deny accountability when suits them (even deny their own kid), because they’re special.

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