The Genome of Leader: Steve Jobs

The Genome of Leader: Steve Jobs

8 calls so far.
Asking me, for my thoughts on Steve Jobs.
As a leader.
So many, wanting to replicate who he is.
My blatant answer, 2-fold:

Fold1: I have no idea
Fold2: If you figure it out, it won’t work for you.

The Tony Robbins suggestion “Find the person doing what you want and replicate what they do,” sounds good in theory.

And might help someone eke out a living.

It dampens something. Impossible in my view. Tiresome.

So. Tonight, with Daffy Duck in the background (after 14 straight minutes of my son asking in many different ways for my favorite cartoon as a kid) I am going to make an attempt to capture an idea around they guy who brought me the IPad.
I will get it wrong.

Because, I have had one conversation with the dude. What I read about him, what his team experiences of him, is all a fabrication. Don’t listen to me or anyone else…


Because I really can’t type on this freaking thing Steve, your IPAD.  Sigh

So with that giant hedge, here goes:

Why you can’t be him Steve Jobs no matter how many consultants tell you that you can if you just…:

1) Steve Jobs doesn’t really care if you like him. Most of us, okay maybe I’ll dampen that down, many of us, have a competing commitment to be liked. We are really good at what we do and beneath the waterline many of us need to be liked. We need to have a posse. This desire trumps excellence.

2) He doesn’t care what you think. Or what everyone thinks. If the world says RETAIL IS DEAD he invests in creating a space where people can be drunken with technology and make babies.
And, really, he could give a crap over the nuptials. He just knows people spend where their heart is. A religion requires a chapel.

3) He doesn’t try to attract people to him. Most people in hiring paint a rosy picture of the company. Jobs sets very very low expectations and only wants people who care about the end result: elegant simple game changing design.

4) If you need a coach or mentor, you are barking up the wrong tree. Come fully formed….

5) Steve doesn’t believe his people are fragile. If you let your petty human bullshit get in the way, he will replace you. With out apology. And not behind closed doors. There will be no funeral, no regrets – you will just be gone.

6) The word bullshit above doesn’t scare him. None of it does. You can completely FREAK OUT in one minute and be embraced in the moment. He has a good hold on his cognitive illusions. He forgives but not in a yummy way. It is just over and now what… most of us forever change our opinion of people after witnessing a temporary rampage. He doesn’t. Because he rampages. Understands it as part of the process.

7) Thus, he doesn’t hire people, or surround himself with people, who have thin skin. He invites people to have a robust ridiculous inappropriate interaction and forgive all impropriety immediately. Most of us remember what our spouse was wearing when the commented on our new haircut by saying it showed more of our ears… Steve forgot you gave him shit over the weight loss and listened to your opinion now without filter. Well, listened to you and did what he thought anyway.  See 2 above.

7) The man knows when to say when. With grace. He doesn’t have to control it to know it will be what it is. And, it is he way of keeping control. You’ll see.

8)   (I HATE the emoticon with the sunglass smiley guy.. i’m trying to do an EIGHT ) UGH  …..He sucks as a public speaker. There are books about his public speaking ability and still, he sucks. He knows his reputation and name is why people listen. His ego never trumps this. Watch his graduation speech

(Sorry Steve, you weren’t that great. I mean, I like your product and all, I wanna be like you and still, ho hum.)

If he was just some guy name Barry Smith – 4 million people would not have watched this. Watch the crowd – they are thrilled it is Steve Jobs, it isn’t a great speech. Jobs knew this. I don’t know that his fame every distracted him. He had a filter or a distance to the adoration of others. Surrounded himself with people who simply didn’t want the autograph. Not many of us have that sort of ego control. We want to be adored past what is true.

9) He has limited ability. He is unbelievable at very very few things. Big things. He fails at a lot of sh*t. He doesn’t want to be perfect in many things. Just one or two.

10) The man is able to IGNORE a lot. Ignore. Not care. Dismiss. Not worry. Let it go. That is what makes a game changing CEO. All the things to ignore, without lament.

11) He is like a pit bull with other things. Won’t let some things go. Gnaws those few things to the point of insanity. Well past what makes sense. Just a couple of things.

11) If Steve Jobs was a charm on a charm bracelet he’d be tarnished. He would have slipped unnoticed into the gutter already. He will be the charm we miss the most… our hand on the space where he used to be.. wishing he would have left for some other reason than health…


You might think my list above is a bad thing. It isn’t. Most of us need to be these things if we want to change the world. The coddling and cuddling and complaining and lack of individual resourcefulness in companies has just got to stop.

He is that and

That isn’t (most) of us.

(Nice shirt.)

  • Kathy Wall
    Posted at 22:50h, 29 August

    Wow! I don’t find it uncomplimentary at all. It sounds to me like you have a pretty good read on who he is and that he is a very honest man. He has goals and plans. If they work, they work. If they don’t, they don’t, but he doesn’t simply give up when they don’t work.

  • Christina
    Posted at 16:31h, 05 October

    “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” – Steve Jobs

    I’ll, we’ll, the world will… miss you.

    Rest in Peace and Thank you.

  • Christina
    Posted at 16:59h, 05 October

    “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

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