We never knew much about Steve Jobs. Which is a stark contrast to most icons. Most of them crave the spotlight and fame. Most of them say “Yes” to invitations to be on TV. Not Steve Jobs. Few speeches, few interviews, no TV shows.
But since his tragic passing yesterday, some details about him have emerged.
In the midst of the eulogies and memories, I have noticed two details shining.
First, Steve stayed closely, personally connected to people. Walt Mossberg talked about Steve calling him almost every weekend for a decade. Walt talked about taking walks with Steve. Vic Gundotra talked about getting calls from Steve on a Sunday morning. Steve Wolfram talked about meeting with Steve on many occasions and about receiving tons on specific input from Steve Jobs on Wolfram’s projects. Sergey Brin talked about Steve being a mentor and being available. Larry Page talked about Steve Jobs reaching out to him. Larry Brilliant talked about Steve Jobs caring for him when Larry was diagnosed with cancer . Steve Wozniak talked about Steve Jobs being a good friend. And there are dozens more of such stories.
“The defining character of Steve Jobs isn’t his genius, it isn’t his talent, it isn’t his success. It’s his love. That’s why crowds came to see him.” – Larry Brilliant
The second thing that has become clear is that Steve Jobs knew he had created a special legacy. The LA Times reports that for years, Steve has been working on an “executive training program called Apple University that Jobs considered vital to the company’s future: Teaching Apple executives to think like him”. Steve told Larry Brilliant that he would be “happy to have people talk about him.” Other such stories have emerged.
“Steve was looking to his legacy… No other company has a university charged with probing so deeply into the roots of what makes the company so successful.” – anonymous Apple employee (from LA Times article)
I look forward to reading the authorized biography that comes out later this month. But for now, I just feel grief. And gratitude.