A marketing friend of mine recently told me an interesting story about a meeting he had with Steve Jobs back in the mid-1970s. My friend owned a computer store in the San Francisco bay area that was a reseller for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) products. He needed to buy a part for the Apple I computer for one of his customers.
My friend placed the order with Jobs over the phone and told him he would come down to the "house" to pick up the part. When he got to the house, the door was answered by Jobs, who was dressed in a short-sleeved white shirt, shorts, and Birkenstocks. No surprise, since this was the 70s.
Inside the house, Jobs reportedly bragged about all the orders he had for the new version of the Apple computer, the Apple II. He then handed over a baggie with two units of the part that my friend wanted. However, my friend only needed one. He protested to Jobs, who said that he couldn't be bothered with orders under $100. One part was only $75.
Frustrated, my friend left thinking that Jobs was a jerk and there was no way he would ever make it in business. He was, of course, wrong.
My friend told me this story when he was showing off an Apple I Cassette interface that he was thinking of selling online (a similar cassette interface from Apple had just sold at auction for $240,000). So why do I bring this up, you might ask?
I could go into the standard spiel about how you should not judge somebody based on a single encounter. But I think it's really more than that. Back in the 70s, Jobs already showed his business acumen and passion in his transactions. His vision continued as he grew Apple and announced the first Macs. For those of you who don't remember, this was the first computer to use a graphical interface and a mouse. Even though he didn't invent them, he perfected them.
He overcame setbacks such as the failure of the LISA computer and even getting fired from the very company he founded. Now we remember him for Pixar, the smart design of the iPhone and iPad, and the creation of an iWorld.
I have not had the pleasure of meeting Jobs, but I think he is inspiring. In my opinion, Jobs is the greatest marketer of all time. Because he is innovative and encourages his team to be innovative, and because he has failed and gotten back up and won, big time. He doesn't give up, even as he battles the biggest setback of his life, cancer. I'm betting on him.