Saturday, August 27, 2011

iLoveSteve - An Ode to the iCon - Steve Jobs - Episode #1

The earliest I could recollect my memories with Apple was when an event organized by our department gave away iPod Shuffle 2 GB for the first prize winner. That was in 2005 or 2006. A friend of mine who had an iPod Shuffle 1 GB then exchanged it for the new 2GB shuffle and we wrapped the old 1 GB and gave it to the winner! I thought my friend has gone really mad and crazy. Come 2010 and I am one such crazy Apple fan/devotee/aficionado/fanboy.

I have a very bad memory. I can hardly remember my school pals, so I don't really know when I started reading a lot about Apple and Steve Jobs. May be I found there is a sense of prestige/status when my friends discussed about Apple/Steve and I wanted to be a part of that elite group.

The book 'The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs' explains how Steve cleverly pitches for each of his new products. Steve first introduces the "Villain"(the status-quo) and then introduces the "Hero"(the Apple Products) to create a spell-binding impact on the audience. His life story has been one such. The "Villain" being John Sculley who drove Steve out of Apple and the "Hero" Steve himself!

People have always loved comeback stories. Be it the rags-to-riches of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ or the innumerous number of Rajnikanth movies where he becomes a multi-billionaire in a 5-minute song, we have adored them. Steve’s story was one such. But does that explain the blindfolded following of Apple? Not really. When I started reading the first book on Apple, ‘Revolution in the Valley - The Insanely Great Story of how a Mac was made’, I understood the other side of Steve. He was steadfast in his approach, ridicules the effort of the development team till he achieves the desired quality, harsh in dealing with people that made him a fearful manager. This made me feel that he should have been one manager whom no one would have wanted to work with. But then there was this other side of him where he can go to any length for the team. Sample these.

"During one fine night, the fire alarm suddenly broke out at Apple. Steve asked his team about the alarm and they claimed that the alarm often goes blaring. Steve shouted “Can someone stop that alarm?” and the next moment he was seen with a huge hammer and smashed the alarm into pieces."

"There were two main divisions at Apple during the late 70s: The Lisa division and the Macintosh division. Steve headed the Macintosh division and the two divisions were always at loggerheads. When Andy Hertzfeld, one of the new engineers who joined Apple during the late 70s (Author of Revolution in the Valley) wanted to move to Macintosh division from the Lisa Development team, Steve came to Andy’s cabin and asked him to move to Macintosh. Andy who was in the midst of a Lisa work said Steve he would need atleast 2 weeks to move to Macintosh as there was still some unfinished business in Lisa. Steve, without a second thought, pulled the power-cord of Andy’s computer and without a word took all his belongings (along with Andy’s computer) to the Macintosh division."

There were very many such instances such as these. If you get a chance, try reading this book. A book that might convert you to the Apple religion. Forever.
When Steve rejoined Apple in 1997, he was far more flexible and easy to work with. But if there was one quality that never left Steve and might never leave him is his “PASSION”. A Passion to build amazing products. It is this Passion that has made him a Visionary, that differentiated him from everyone else, that has made Steve what he is today. His resignation was imminent. Apple has a brilliant roadmap and succession plan that might still make Apple an unmatched organization for the next few years, but just the thought that Steve is no more at helm leaves a void.

The next blog in the series ‘iLoveSteve - An Ode to the iCon – Steve Jobs’ would commemorate the brilliant phrases/impactful speeches of Steve. The Steve that we all know, see on stage with the blue jean and black T-shirt, a Salesman who could sell a vacum.

An iFan


Dev said...

Very well written Sri ! We all know how big a fan you are of Apple and Steve and it reflects in your writings :)looking forward to the next pieces !

Sridhar V said...

Thanks Devashish ! Hopefully I will meet your expectations in the next post :-)