“He was not exactly a warm and fuzzy guy, but he got the best results out of people.” ~ Guy Kawasaki on Steve Jobs.
Last night at Facebook Success Summit 2011, Guy Kawasaki (former Chief Evangelist of Apple) spoke passionately about Steve Jobs, his former boss, friend and arguably the man who invented the world’s most enchanting products.
As the keynote speaker, Guy was scheduled to talk about Facebook Marketing. But just ten minutes before the session started at 8:00pm EST news about Steve Jobs’ death broke, and a shaken Guy Kawasaki quickly and courageously gathered his strength to honor his friend.
Here is Guy’s nostalgic recollection of his life at Apple under Steve Jobs.
Fighting the Mighty Opposite
In the 1980’s I was hired to work for Apple’s Macintosh Division as their Software Evangelist. My job was to meet with hardware and software companies and convince them to use Macintosh products.
The Macintosh Division was on a mission from Steve Jobs to prevent IBM’s domination of information technology.
The thought was that if IBM ruled the world, it would be a boring, totalitarian, ‘George Orwellian’ place – a society full of mediocrity, conformity and thought-control.
Apple was going to send the proverbial ‘ax’ into the image of ‘big brother’. It was religious fervor, in that we were fighting a mighty opposite.
A Merry Band of Pirates
The Macintosh division was a group of 50 people in a little building on Mariani Drive.
This was Steve’s division.
Someone had put up a pirate flag on top of the building, because we were going to be ‘pirates’ and not part of ‘the establishment’.
We really believed that we were going to rid the world of IBM’s totalitarianism and we worked very, very hard at it. It was Steve’s mission.
The division itself was made up of a very interesting group of people. Some of us had MBA’s and some of us didn’t. We had software and hardware engineers, artists, and people who did marketing for the division.
It was a merry band of pirates – Steve himself had only attended one semester at Reed College.
And so here we were, on paper not so qualified but nevertheless a great place to work because we were going to change freaking history. It was an euphoric experience.
And there were some really interesting things about our division: Steve had bought a grand piano for the division and some people played it at work.
He also got a BMW motorcycle exclusively for the division, and a travel policy that allowed us to fly first-class on any flight over two hours!
I lived 45 minutes from work and I figured my trip started the moment I left my apartment. So I flew first-class everywhere I went.
The Launch of Macintosh
On January 24th 1984 at De Anza College Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh computer. That was one of the most enchanting moments of my life.
Steve was not wearing a black turtle neck – back then his thing was a double-breasted suit and a bow tie.
The first time I saw a Macintosh computer I was an Apple 2 user. It was a religious experience.
Even with Apple 2, I was fortunate to have a 24 x 8 terminal screen. We used to move the cursor around with cursor keys and graphics were done by using ‘x’s and ‘o’s to draw up things.
In contrast the Macintosh had multiple fonts, sizes and styles. It had integration of text and graphics as well as paint brush graphics – it was a magical experience.
The launch was very successful and our goal, which was to sell a quarter million Mac’s in the first 100 days, was achieved.
The death and resurrection of Apple
We pitched the Macintosh fervently. It appealed to developers because of the rich, interesting yet challenging programming environment that it offered.
But after some time, the euphoria began to die down. Businesses were rejecting the Mac because it didn’t have some of the crucial pieces of software that they were looking for.
Things started to look really bad and there was talk about the death of Apple. Steve Jobs was fired and replaced by John Sculley. He quickly moved on and started a company called NeXT.
Meanwhile things didn’t pick up at Apple for a while until Steve came back some years later when Apple bought NeXT for 400 million dollars.
At first he was on an advisory role but when he introduced the iMac, well…the rest is history.
The iMac (if you remember) was a tier-shaped looking computer produced in different colors. It was this product that re-kindled people’s enthusiasm for Macintosh and from there, other revolutionary products such as the iPad, iPod, iPhone were born.
Steve the Man
Steve Jobs was the greatest influence in my life.
From him I learned an appreciation for design, an appreciation for elegance and simplicity. I learned how far you can push people with challenges and still get the best work out of them.
You know Steve was not exactly a warm and fuzzy kind of guy but he got the best results out of people.
He could drive you crazy because the trash can icon didn’t look right, or a certain shade of black wasn’t black enough (Steve was heavily influenced by Paul Rand the logo designer).
But what a time that was. I consider it an honor to have worked for him in the Macintosh division.
Whatever you think of Apple, you have to admit it was among the pioneers of the personal computer industry. Most companies are fortunate to create one revolution in their lifetime, but Steve created 4 or 5 revolutions.
And for all people around the world who use Apple products, Steve has brought joy and enchantment into our lives.
May he rest in peace.