My favourite quotes from the Steve Jobs bio
I’ve finally finished Walter Isaacson’s superb Steve Jobs biography. I know, I know, everybody else finished it months ago, but I’ve been busy…
Anyway, it’s full of great quotes either by or about Steve but I’d read a lot of the best ones before the book even came out so here’s my collection of a few of my favourites that seem to have been less well reported…
Corporate culture clash – when John Scully arrived at Apple he remarked:
“Most people were less formally dressed than Pepsi’s maintenance staff”.
He also had trouble adjusting to the casual atmosphere – at meetings “Jobs would sit on the floor in the lotus position absentmindedly playing with the toes of his bare feet”.
Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, had planned to buy Apple and reinstate Steve but Steve came up with an alternate plan which Larry didn’t quite understand…
“But Steve, there’s one thing I don’t understand, if we don’t buy the company, how can we make any money?”. It was a reminder of how different their desires were. Jobs put his hand on Ellison’s left shoulder, pulled him so close that their noses almost touched, and said, “Larry, this is why it’s really important that I’m your friend. You don’t need any more money.”
Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) on Antennagate “Apple’s response to the iPhone 4 problem didn’t follow the public relations playbook because Jobs decided to rewrite the playbook. If you want to know what genius looks like, study Jobs’ words: “We’re not perfect. Phones are not perfect. We all know that. But we want to make our users happy.” Jobs changed the entire argument with nineteen words. He was brief. He spoke indisputable truth.”
After a heated email exchange with blogger Ryan Tate “By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you just criticize others work and belittle their motivations?”
Tate admitted to being impressed. “Rare is the CEO who will spar one-on-one with customers and bloggers like this,” he wrote. “Jobs deserves big credit for breaking the mold of the typical American executive, and not just because his company makes such hugely superior products: Jobs not only built and then rebuilt his company around some very strong opinions about digital life, but he’s willing to defend them in public. Vigorously. Bluntly. At two in the morning on a weekend.”
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.”
After MobileMe launched to a less than rapturous reception: “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” After hearing the team’s answers “So why the fuck doesn’t it do that?”. The he fired the leader of the MobileMe team in front of the whole audience and replaced him with Eddy Cue
On putting an Apple Music app on Android:
“I don’t see any advantage of putting our music app on Android, except to make Android users happy. And I don’t want to make Android users happy.”
When Steve was furious that Google were poaching Apple staff for Android, Bono sent him a note saying “You should chill out about this. This is like the Beatles ringing up because Herman and the Hermits have taken one of their road crew.”
“All I need is a $10 million check.” Jobs immediately authorised it.
To the Times after they complained about the details of Apple’s proposed newspaper deal:“If you don’t like it, don’t use us. I’m not the one who got you into this jam.”
When viewed from above, the original design for Apple’s futuristic HQ reminded his son of a cock & balls – Steve told the architects “Unfortunately, once I’ve told you that, you’re never going to be able to erase that image from your mind.” The plans were changed…
On Obama: “I’m disappointed in Obama. “He’s having trouble leading because he’s reluctant to offend people or piss them off… Yes, that’s not a problem I ever had.”
Even when terminally ill – “At one point the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated. Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick the design he liked the best.”
On the closed approach “We do these things not because we are control freaks, we do them because we want to make great products, because we care about the user, and because we like to take responsibility for the entire experience rather than turn out the crap that other people make.”
Sometimes it’s nice to be in the hands of a control freak…
The floors in Apple stores are made of stone from a quarry outside of Florence.
In 1985, as he was being ousted from his first tour at Apple, he had visited Italy and been impressed by the gray stone of Florence’s sidewalks. In 2002, when he came to the conclusion that the light wood floors in the stores were beginning to look somewhat pedestrian-a concern that it’s hard to imagine bedeviling someone like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer-Jobs wanted to use that stone instead. Some of his colleagues pushed to replicate the color and texture using concrete, which would have been ten times cheaper, but Jobs insisted that it had to be authentic. The gray-blue Pietra Serena sandstone, which has a fine-grained texture, comes from a family-owned quarry, Il Casone, in Firenzuola outside of Florence. “We select only 3% of what comes out of the mountain, because it has to have the right shading and veining and purity,” said Johnson. “Steve felt very strongly that we had to get the color right and it had to be a material with high integrity.” So designers in Florence picked out just the right quarried stone, oversaw cutting it into the proper tiles, and made sure each tile was marked with a sticker to ensure that it was laid out next to its companion tiles. “Knowing that it’s the same stone that Florence uses for its sidewalks assures you that it can stand the test of time,” said Johnson.