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Steve Jobs: February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

Pictures and messages written by visitors are displayed on the windows of the Apple Store in Palo Alto, California on this first anniversary of Steve Jobs‘ death from cancer. Although I am only about half way through the authorized biography, I harbor no illusions about the man, himself. And yet, I think about some of my own CEOs – although a few were great, one cut down Heritage Trees (those were redwoods, and many “regular trees” were also cut down) to give a campus in Mountain View a “new look” before he, himself, was replaced (NOT because of the trees, of course), and another CEO seemed to us workers to be more interested in his golf game than in replacing the managers that would ultimately cause the company to be sold after years of decline. Not great men….

Here’s to the copycats, the morons, the outright thieves…. the most common examples of corporate executives (“leaders” is a misnomer) in America (and the world) today. You have never made America great, and sometimes, you have not even stolen and implemented the ideas of others competently. People buy your products because they are “cheaper” or because the buyers themselves have no respect for intellectual property or innovation.

Steve, on the other hand, WAS a great man. He seemed, to an Apple outsider, to have those traits common in the “natural leader” Myers-Briggs Type ENTJ, including a willingness to take personal credit for the accomplishments of legions of other employees. On the other hand, his obsessive desire for “control” meant that he DID have personal involvement in many of Apple’s creations.

As I have said before, I was based on site at Apple’s Valley Green 6 and 5 buildings from April 2000 to April 2001 as a Netscape employee, a “dedicated” Enterprise Services Account Manager (ESAM), which some Apple employees creatively called an “iSAM.” I stood within 50 feet of Steve at Café Mac on several occasions, but had no desire to meet him. Meeting Steve was usually not “a good thing.” I had no doubt that, given the money that he was paying Netscape to have me in Eddy Cue’s Internet Services area for a year, coupled with his micromanaging style, he knew EXACTLY what I was doing and whether I was worth the investment. I took my longevity at Apple as a sign that I WAS. That longevity included the time of the release of MacOS X.

In Palo Alto today, someone taped 100 sheets of paper with images of Steve Jobs to the window of the Palo Alto Apple store. Passersby and customers wrote their thoughts:

“I get goose bumps when I think about what he did for the world,” said retired college professor Francina Nur. “In a way, through his amazing products,” he wrote, “he will live forever.”

In the process of creating corporate wealth, Steve Jobs also gave employment to thousands of gifted, creative employees and oversaw the development and release of a number of world-changing and insanely great products.

There is a tribute on Apple’s Web site today.

“It’s in Apple’s DNA,” Jobs says at one point, “that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”

The world is a better place for the time that Steve Jobs spent upon it.

-Bill at

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