What Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About Passion & Innovation

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 {complink 379|Apple Inc.} 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.

9 comments on “What Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About Passion & Innovation

  1. AnalyzeThis
    April 14, 2011

    I'm not quite sure what the moral of this story is — especially considering a guy who “didn't bother” with orders under $100 in the 70's now makes a ton of money off transactions which are under $1 — but I am a big fan of Steve Jobs stories.

    Years ago I worked for a company whose CEO had previously worked at Apple during the late 90's and he had some great stories. I won't re-tell any specific tales, but most of the stories involved Steve's near-insane attention to detail.

    It's obvious that many of Jobs' qualities can be seen in Apple's products. Very few companies have that level of influential leadership at the top of their organization.

  2. itguyphil
    April 14, 2011

    Some say his micro-managing personality is the reason he had to step away. Too many people couldn't function while he was breathing down their necks. But sometimes, pepole stay on their toes if they know this is what they're up against.

    In any which case, I think the reason this dollare deal shift works for Apple is because they have other people (developers, vendors, etc) doing the legwork for the majority of the process.

  3. Jay_Bond
    April 15, 2011

    Steve Jobs has shown through hard work and perseverance, you can survive and succeed even after being fired. Many people only think of Jobs for his most recent accomplishments. They don't seem to remember Apple going through some very dry spells. Steve Jobs has a very unique approach to managing and it seems to be paying off. He is showing us right now just how passionate he is about his company by still being involved while fighting an aggressive cancer. 

  4. saranyatil
    April 15, 2011

    I will call Steve as a legend, he's the best. for any one he will be in the list of role models.

    The products Apple has launched will remain as a benchmark for all the companies working on the same domain. Now we can see lot of competetion arising for Apple in their iPad market and more, as usual Steve will come up with new strategies to rule the market.

  5. hwong
    April 18, 2011

    When I read the title of the article I was expecting a different kind of story. I thought the article was going to give a story that tells us about the good thing that Steve has done that is inspiring. Instead the article focuses on some of the dis-integrity and how the customer's need is not met. It's a bit incongruent in my opinion. I now have a different thought about Steve. He's really just a business man who knows how to talk and make the most $

  6. mario8a
    April 18, 2011


    I've seen some of Steve's presentation and introductions of new iphones, he definitely thinks out of the box and his ideas will be missed.



  7. Tim Votapka
    April 19, 2011

    Well said. How many products or brands can you honestly say draw as much validation as the Apple line does? Take a walk through any retail mall. The high-end clothing boutiques may be empty, but the Apple stores are always busy. And it isn't just because the toys are out to be played with either!

  8. elctrnx_lyf
    April 20, 2011

    Apple is one of the companies that cna be remembered by any one who have heard of electronic gadgets. Steve Jobs was always a great businessmen with lot of confidence in what he is making and his products are always not about any new technology but they are about perfecting an exisitng innovation.

  9. t.alex
    April 22, 2011

    Perhaps the moral of the story is more on not judging someone based on the first encounter? Nevetheless, Job is a great guy who realizes his passions through many ups and downs.

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