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Remembering Steve Jobs from
my Time at Apple

I was searching for a subject for this newsletter when I heard on the news that Steve Jobs had passed away. Even though I didn’t know him personally, I had the pleasure to work at Apple as an outside consultant for three years shortly after he returned to Apple to save his company and his actions impacted my career and my life.

This is about Steve Jobs as a leader. There were lots of stories around about Steve Jobs, the prima donna. There were stories about him yelling and screaming and throwing people out of his office when he didn’t like what was being presented to him. Let's just say that he was opinionated.

But one thing cannot be denied. The change in the company after he returned was significant and it was good change. After the money men fired Steve from the company he built in the 1980’s, they proceeded to run a fine company into the ground. When Steve came back Apple’s products were ordinary and had become something of a joke in the industry. Steve was all about quality and being the best. He had a keen eye and decreed that Apple would be the best.

This applied to the project I was brought in to build--the call center for the Apple Store. Their existing call center was being run as a side line by one of their distributors. We set about giving Apple a customer experience that was worthy of the Apple brand. This would not have been possible under the prior management.

Steve’s mark could be seen in lots of other areas. He completely revamped the company cafeteria into a gourmet dining experience. He had an incredible sense of elegant, organic design. You can see the difference and Steve’s touch in one of his early products, the iMac.

The first iMac was already on the drawing board when Steve came back and I doubt if he had much to do with it. The early iMac was different than any other computer at the time. It was sort of sleek and modern, but pretty much missed the mark when it came to elegance. The early iMac was cheap, out-of-the box functional and came in bright colors. In fact, it sort of looked like a big orange pumpkin or purple toaster sitting on the desk, like so:

Jobs’ esthetic was “cool”. Everything had to be sleek and modern industrial chic. You can see the difference in the re-vamp of the iMac in 2001. This was definitely Jobs’ influence like so:

Steve Jobs was a Motivational Leader

Steve Jobs was a motivational leader, but not in the usual touchy-feely kind of way. He motivated by being a tough, strong leader with confidence in his opinions and high standards. He was an entrepreneurial genius who came up with creative ideas like the Apple retail store. He took ideas that were already in the marketplace and challenged and motivated his team to make them better—the iPod, iPhone, iPad. So much better that the world was transfixed and driven to adoration of their Apple products. The result for his team was incredible success, reputation, a terrific place to work and company stock that went through the roof. Sometimes when you have the chance to work for someone so special, you can overlook their lack of finesse.

My heart goes out to the employees at Apple as Steve Jobs will be missed. My heart goes out to the rest of us who will miss his contributions to the world. Thank you, Mr. Jobs, for creating (and saving) one of the great companies in the world.

This page was published in October 2011.

I welcome your questions and comments. You can contact me here. 

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About the Author of this Website

My name is Carolyn Jolly. My professional life has been in sales, marketing and IT management. Along the way I’ve been studying and experimenting with self improvement and personal development techniques for the past 20 years. I have had more than a few mind-blowing experiences and I’ve made some discoveries that have shaped my ideas. I’m now using this website to pass those ideas along.

Our world is changing very rapidly. Many of the constants and institutions we thought to be permanent are now crumbling or changing drastically. This website is dedicated to those interested in how to manage their lives in light of these changes or in just becoming a better person. I hope the information you find here will stimulate you to embark on your own voyage of motivation and self improvement.

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