2013-08-29

Passion.

Upon re-reading Walter Isaacsons book about Steve Jobs I went back and looked at some of the public appearances that were mentioned in the book.  The book offers descriptions of several appearances, and even makes value judgements -- so rather than taking Isaacson's word for it I decided to judge for myself.

When Steve Jobs came back to Apple, he described lots of people as bozos.  Now, Mr Jobs had a tendency to be very binary in his relationship with other people -- they were either bozons or they were geniuses.  (And the same person could fall in either category depending on what day it was).

When you see it on the page this appears to be a (perhaps unnecessarily) harsh characterisation.  Was it?  Judge for yourself.

The first is a clip showing Gil Amelio and then Steve Jobs at MacWorld Expo 1997.  Gil Amelio held the keynote speech at MacWorld.  Before the event Mr Amelio had some kind of dispute with his speech-writers and he turned up unprepared -- thinking he could improvise his speech.  The book described his performance as "bumbling", painful to watch, and that he frequently lost his train of thought.


In retrospect it is easy to forgive Jobs for thinking that Gil Amelio was unfit to run the company.  He was.  Not just because he incredibly inarticulate (which is almost offensive if you give speeches that are several hours long) but because if the CEO lacks enthusiasm for the products:  why would you expect the customers to feel any enthusiasm.

The second clip you should watch is of Gil Amelio shortly after becoming the CEO for Apple in 1996. This address was supposed to inspire confidence in both customers and shareholders:



The third clip you might want to look at is a product presentation from 1996 -- before Steve Jobs came back and took over.  There are several things to notice in this video.  For one I think most people have forgotten just how bad Apple products were in the 90s.  Remember, the OS running on those machines was far less advanced and far less responsive than Windows was at the same time.   Visually more polished, but built on stone age technology.

This was also before Jobs unchained Jonathan Ive from whatever dungeon he had been trapped in within the bowels of Apple.  It is almost hard to imagine that Apple spent an entire decade making a rather confusing array of low quality, beige boxes.



It is hard to even fathom that we are talking about the same company.

It is striking what a huge difference passion makes.  People tend to focus on Jobs' abrasive personality, and some people might even feel that his behaviour legitimises being unpleasant to people you disagree with.  But I think they key thing to learn from these videos is what a difference passion makes.

If you do not have passion people will notice.  And if you do not have passion for what you do:  why turn up for work at all?

No comments:

Post a Comment