In Monday's #SOTD, I profiled a Steve Jobs interview from 1985.
Tuesday's email focused on Steve's ability to discern patterns and provide concrete examples, Wednesday's theme was about the importance of historical context (and analogies!) and on Thursday we admired Steve's command over the key numbers (while still not losing focus on individual users).
Today's the final part of this interview and the theme is: Steve sharing personal stories in an open manner
They say that "you can't hate someone whose story you know".
The best way for others to know - and trust - you is to share your life stories to them. Especially the difficult ones.
In this interview, Jobs opens up about his childhood. He admits to being curious about his birth parents (he was adopted); but draws a line at disclosing if he was successful in finding out more about them.
He does share some fascinating stories about his drive and curiosity even at a young age. Take this incident for instance
David: You went to work for Hewlett-Packard. How did that happen?
Steve: When I was 12 or 13, I wanted to build something and I needed some parts, so I picked up the phone and called Bill Hewlett - he was listed in the Palo Alto phone book. He answered the phone and he was real nice. He chatted with me for, like, 20 minutes. He didn’t know me at all, but he ended up giving me some parts and he got me a job that summer working at Hewlett-Packard on the line, assembling frequency counters. Assembling may be too strong. I was putting in screws. It didn’t matter; I was in heaven. I remember my first day, expressing my complete enthusiasm and bliss at being at Hewlett-Packard for the summer to my supervisor, a guy named Chris, telling him that my favorite thing in the whole world was electronics. I asked him what his favorite thing to do was and he looked at me and said, “To f**k!” [Laughs] I learned a lot that summer.
Incredible story. No age is too young or old to show curiosity and drive.
His young years were not all about work and dedication though. There was a lot of teenage horsing around:
David: At what point did you meet Steve Wozniak?
Steve: I met Woz when I was 13, at a friend’s garage. He was about 18. He was, like, the first person I met who knew more electronics than I did at that point. We became good friends, because we shared an interest in computers and we had a sense of humor. We pulled all kinds of pranks together.
David: For instance?
Steve: [Grins] Normal stuff. Like making a huge flag with a giant one of these on it [gives the finger]. The idea was that we would unfurl it in the middle of a school graduation. Then there was the time Wozniak made something that looked and sounded like a bomb and took it to the school cafeteria. We also went into the blue-box business together.
David: Those were illegal devices that allowed free long-distance phone calls, weren’t they?
Steve: Mm-hm. The famous story about the boxes is when Woz called the Vatican and told them he was Henry Kissinger. They had someone going to wake the Pope up in the middle of the night before they figured out it wasn’t really Kissinger.
David: Did you get into trouble for any of those things?
Steve: Well, I was thrown out of school a few times.
David: Were you then, or have you ever been, a computer nerd?
Steve: I wasn’t completely in any one world for too long. There was so much else going on. Between my sophomore and junior years, I got stoned for the first time; I discovered Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas and all that classic stuff. I read Moby Dick and went back as a junior taking creative-writing classes. By the time I was a senior, I’d gotten permission to spend about half my time at Stanford, taking classes.
Here was Steve Jobs opening up, showing himself, warts and all.
Sure, he had his flaws. But he more than made up for them with his uniquely stellar combination of skills.
Needless to add, the skill that I admire the most: Steve Jobs was perhaps the most complete storyteller among elite business leaders.