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.)

Prevarication feels better

The truth is hard.

I don’t know that I need to say more than that.

I should leave it there.


I think it is what we all want. Really. The truth.


We rarely set up systems in our life to make sure we get more of it.

The truth.


Do these jeans make my butt look big?

You love her. She has gained weight. It has happened over time. She still wears the same size pants and the extra just sort of spills over in a ‘muffin top.’

And you know… if you answer honestly… she will cry. Your weekend will be over. You will be forced to read “Men are from Mars” or “Love Languages” or something.

Why don’t we want to know the truth?

Once it is spoken, it is at least out there for us to deal with either the reality of the statement or the perception of the statement.

(Your wife is surprised you can even see the muffin top past the beer belly.)

Sorry. That one was low. I guess I’m saying, I watch myself get upset when I get the truth instead of celebrating it.

It is either the truth and I need to know it OR it is the perception of another. Either way, once it is out there, I can at least deal with it.

Either way.

My uncle told me to always celebrate when people let you know where they are at.

My sister tells me to listen to what people do, not what they say.

Somewhere in all that family advice is an equation for happiness.

Reality and happiness.

Really. Read that again.

Absolute bliss happens the moment we know where we stand either in actuality or perception.

This applies to a member of a team with a boss and as the leader of the team who thinks they are the boss.

The true path of a leader in today’s sociological biosphere is someone who is really good at ‘getting’ reality. Not creating it… not rallying people with words… someone who wants the truth and the perception.  A person who wants REAL so badly they are willing to be wrong, willing to be hurt and gain energy from anything painful.

A person who pays attention to how they receive information and makes sure that no matter how messy the vomit is that just got projected on the table, they pull is a part, look  at it and think about it.

A friend of mine said once, “Leaders get the organization they deserve.”   So true.

As a member of a team, any feedback I get from others can only help me deal with the reality of that statement. They either believe it to be true and it isn’t (I can work on perception) OR it is a cold hard fact and I better create some deliberate practices to start addressing my muffin top.  (and buy some interim puffy jeans, less spillover)

This very moment is a summation of all of our choices.

Choices are formed with information.

Choose to embrace the things people say, especially when it isn’t pretty.

The data helps us form better choices.

Better choices lead to happiness.


No one is coming

Everywhere I go these days, I keep hearing about

I’ve said it too. I wish… If only.. how come ….

No one is coming.

Whatever it is in our country, our company, our family that isn’t working
that we complain about
will not change
until we
as individuals
decide to get resourceful
not give up.

I asked someone I respect once
the key to a long marriage
he had been married 60 years or something crazy like that.

“Don’t give up on the same day.”


So- what if there was a collective moment
we all
were ALL IN.

Despite the fact that
do not understand.

They don’t get it.

They are (whatever label we have applied.)

and we just

Took the absolute responsibility
to keep trying.

I’m in.

Magic with what is

I love the world. I first heard of this artist in 2008 because a friend blogged about him.

Today, I saw a makeshift sculpture that reminded me of the artist I had sort of forgot about.

(I wish I had a picture of the floating piece that was outside the Embarcadero)

I sat outside my son’s school trying to remember the name of the artist so I could follow-up on what I’d seen. Invite him to a program for youth up in Point Bonita.

Coincidentally, I received this video from one of my coworkers.

Weird, now typical serendipity is becoming.

There is so much randomness in our world that plays such a huge part of our ‘outcomes’

So much of our lives is a result of randomness, isn’t it? There is a good book on the subject “The Drunkards Walk.”

Ping me after reading. It really does blow some air in the old garbage bags.