Steve Jobs: A Leader Who Defied The Rule Book
Shaji Kurian, Asst. Professor, OB, Institute of Finance and International Management, (IFIM), Bangalore
______________________________________________________________________________ Steve Jobs is no more. Surely, his accomplishments are far-reaching and impossible to easily summarise. Apart from revolutionising the computer, music and publishing industries in his lifetime, Steve Jobs’ death has pointed out that he may have transformed just one more – the leadership industry. Here’s one way of looking at the scope of his achievement: It is the dream of any entrepreneur to effect change in an industry. Well, Jobs transformed half a dozen of them forever, from personal computers to phones, animation, music, publishing and video games. He was a great negotiator, a skilled motivator, a decisive judge, a farsighted tastemaker, an excellent showman and a gifted strategist. Most people will try to fit him into old moulds, trying to confine his spirit within the familiar terms: Vision, Innovation, Communication, Inspiration. There was all of that, for sure, but these encomiums alone do not quite succeed in capturing him. We haven’t lost the best CEO of this generation – we’ve lost one of the greatest artists of our times. Under his leadership, the previously tottering Apple not only recovered, but climbed its way to the top to become the most valuable company in the world, based on market cap!
Unlike most technologists and entrepreneurs who appear to succeed only once, Steve Jobs was distinctly different, in that he constantly repeated his success. He never gave up and steadfastly pursued his dreams, and is believed to have never been driven by the riches or the fame that followed his success. Jobs was clearly obsessed with the products that his company rolled out, and pursued them to the minutest detail. He was a perfectionist, and a strongly opinionated one at that. Jobs was destined to change many industries during his life time. He had a fairly difficult childhood. He was given up for adoption, dropped out of school, but eventually went on to start a company that practically shaped the personal computer industry. He never had any fancy degrees. In fact, he had no degree at all! Of course, this does not mean that you don’t aspire and work towards higher degrees, but these alone cannot guarantee success. Rather, dedicated pursuit of goals and determination can be magical wands. Following Jobs’ example, parents should ask themselves how they can encourage their children to pursue their dreams with limitless passion and safeguarded from the fear of failure. ~ Page 1 of 14 ~
WORKING PAPER SERIES
A Wonder Called Steve
To unravel the enigma that was Steve Jobs, let’s take a walk through his life.
Young Steve Steven Paul Jobs was born in San Francisco, California, on February 24, 1955. His biological parents, unwed college graduates Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali, gave him up for adoption to a lower middle-class couple from south of the Bay Area, Paul and Clara Jobs. It was not until Jobs was 27 that he was able to uncover information on his biological parents. Jobs grew up in California, a willful, free-spirited young loner, with a penchant for trouble. In his high school years, he was already fascinated with electronics. In 1969, he met Steve Wozniak, better known as ‘Woz’, who was ﬁve years older, and already an electronics whiz. Jobs attended college, but soon dropped out. He embraced the hippie lifestyle – drugs, Zen and Eastern philosophy. In 1974, he took a position as a video game designer with Atari. Several months later, he left Atari to find spiritual enlightenment in India. After months spent traveling through India in rags, he returned to California and started a thriving business with Woz. They built and sold ‘blue boxes’ that let users make long distance calls for free. In 1976, Jobs, then 21, and Wozniak started a...