Was Steve Jobs Really As Great As We Think? The Truth Is Not So Simple…


For some, he’s seen as a messiah in the tech and wider world, revolutionising the way people approach business and innovation in general. To others, he was a tyrant, occasionally cold and manipulative. However, without these qualities, it’s likely that Apple and his other prized creations would have never become the successes that they are.

Love him

Put simply, Jobs was a visionary who accepted that he was not as knowledgeable about computers. He used this acceptance to focus on what he was truly good at, and that was understanding what Apple’s audience wanted, and occasionally, what he wanted them to want. One of his favourite quotes in fact is by Walter Gretzky, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

His approach to innovation has served countless people around the world, not least his successors at Apple today. In a heartfelt tribute using some of his more popular quotes, Apple celebrated Jobs’ life in a short video displaying him over the course of many years and product reveals.

He challenged anyone and everyone to do more and be better, but above that, to do what they truly loved. His message to the public tended to focus on pushing people to take chances because that’s how brilliance is born. To say that he’s not truly brilliant because he’s not a “real” inventor or tech genius is to misunderstand him completely. His genius lies in vision, innovation and inspiration, qualities that he most certainly cannot be denied.

Hate him

While it’s not really recommended to rain on a deceased person’s parade, there’s no denying that working for, or under, Steve Jobs was tough. There was a culture of fear during his time there, with plenty of tales of verbal abuse aimed at employees. One of the more popular ones centred around MobileMe, an e-mail system.

Steve Jobs Was an Asshole, Here Are His Best Insults

Following a failed launch, Jobs reportedly humiliated the team responsible with a half-hour tirade, including the below.

Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” When someone answered correctly, he replied , “So why the f*ck doesn’t it do that?”

He went on to tell the team that they “tarnished Apple’s reputation” and they “should hate each other for having let each other down”. He then concluded by replacing the group’s leader on the spot.

Was it tough love from a man who expected only the best from those around him? Was it a display of toxicity from a person so successful he was out of touch with those below him? It’s hard to argue the point that he couldn’t be successful without those qualities, but looking to where Apple and Pixar are today, you’d say that in the tech and animated movie world, they are the barometer for success.

How Steve Jobs Changed the Course of Animation - Biography

Just take the man for what he is

The debate will rage on endlessly; he was inspirational, yet vindictive. He was a visionary, yet cold. It’s easy to focus on the negatives because there are plenty and many of them are unknown. The only reason we don’t focus on them is that when the man was good, he was extraordinary. His life’s story, which he talks about briefly at the 2005 Stanford Commencement Address (watch below) can give some insight into how he can inspire those around him.

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die | TED Talk

His behaviour on occasion was inexcusable, but it’s not a crime to look past it and see that despite those flaws, he was able to change the lives of millions for the better, through his vision in terms of products, and inspiring words of encouragement to always challenge the status quo.

Love him? Hate him? The choice is yours, just take the best of both to improve yourself. It’s probably what he would have wanted.

Does Steve Jobs deserve the acclaim that he gets? Share your thoughts below!