Friday, February 10, 2012

Steve Jobs Hero or Villain?

Yesterday an FBI report was released detailing a background check from 1991 on the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Some of the findings are well, shall I say, not very flattering. Now, if you are a regular reader of the blog you know I am a bit schizophrenia when it comes to Steve Jobs. I think he was a real game-changer who revolutionized the way we live and communicate. I also think his product paranoia created a proprietary company that stifled outside innovation.

Below are some quotes from summarizing the FBI report on Jobs. But there are two sides to every story...last summer I read the recent Steve Jobs biography written by Walter Isaacson and I think some of these quotes are unfair.

FBI background interviews of some people who knew Apple co-founder Steve Jobs reveal a man driven by power and alienating some of the people who worked with him.

One person told FBI agents the Apple co-founder’s enormous power caused him to lose sight of honesty and integrity, leading him to distort the truth.

Another interview subject described Jobs to the FBI as a deceptive person — someone who was not totally forthright and honest and as having a tendency to distort reality in order to achieve his goals.

Two people associated with Jobs at Apple told the FBI that Jobs possessed integrity as long as he got his way.

OK, OK, wait a minute here...First Isaacson states that Jobs had a remarkable knack of convincing people to do things his way and often used a technique called reality shaping to persuade people. To me this is totally different than having a problem with the truth or a lack of integrity as these quotes indicate. It is this businessman's strategy, like it or not. I'll agree, Jobs was a manipulator, but not a liar. And for a man with his ability to see the future manipulation was an asset.

Another interview subject told an agent that Jobs used illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD, while in college.

Yes, Jobs used LSD and smoked marijuana...when he was very young. Jobs admits to experimenting with drugs as a way of exploring self-awareness. He also experimented with Buddhism for the same reason.

One person told the FBI that Jobs had a child out of wedlock and basically abandoned the mother and their daughter.

And yes again, Jobs did have a daughter (Lisa) with his girlfriend (Chrisann Brennan) whom he never married. In fact when Jobs found out Brennan was pregnant he left her and even denied he was the father of the child. But in later years, Jobs admitted his actions were wrong and called it the biggest mistake in his life. Eventually Jobs and his daughter reconciled. Lisa even came to live with him during her teen years.

I want to keep this report in perspective...Steve Jobs was an amazing man with many faults, but they were far outweighed by his many virtues.

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