Steve Jobs was 'mean, petulant, brittle, abrasive, cantankerous'

In his quest for perfection, Jobs may have been one of the world's 'worst managers', reckons his biographer.

hidden October 24, 2011 05:17:55 IST
Steve Jobs was 'mean, petulant, brittle, abrasive, cantankerous'

Washington: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs could be mean, abrasive and cuttingly dismissive of co-workers in his quest for perfectionism, according to his biographer.

"He's not warm and fuzzy," Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs, which hits bookstores on Monday, said in an interview with the CBS show "60 Minutes." (Watch the full interview, and listen to recordings of audio interviews with Jobs here.)

"He was very petulant," Isaacson said of Jobs, who died on 5 October at the age of 56. "He was very brittle. He could be very, very mean to people at times.

Steve Jobs was mean petulant brittle abrasive cantankerous

In his quest for perfection, Steve Jobs was inconsiderate towards human emotions, says his biographer. Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

"Whether it was to a waitress in a restaurant, or to a guy who had stayed up all night coding, he could just really just go at them and say, 'You're doin' this all wrong. It's horrible.'

"And you'd say, 'Why did you do that? Why weren't you nicer?' And he'd say 'I really want to be with people who demand perfection. And this is who I am.'

"You know, he was a pretty abrasive and in some ways, you know, cantankerous character," Isaacson said.

Job's quest for perfection came in part from his adopted father, Paul Jobs, who taught him "how to make great things," his biographer said.

"Once they were building a fence. And he said, 'You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence,'" he said. "That will show that you're dedicated to making something perfect.'"

Isaacson said Jobs may have come up with the Macintosh computer, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad during his brilliant career but he "was not the world's greatest manager.

"In fact, he could have been one of the world's worst managers," he said. "He was always, you know, upending things.

"And, you know, throwing things into turmoil. This made great products, but it didn't make for a great management style."

Isaacson said Jobs, despite being worth billions of dollars, lived in a modest house in Palo Alto and was determined not to let money change him.

In a taped interview for the book, Jobs told Isaacson a lot of people had changed at Apple after becoming wealthy.

"A few people went out and bought Rolls-Royces and they bought homes, and their wives got plastic surgery," Jobs said.

"I saw these people who were really nice, simple people turn into these bizarro people," he said. "And I made a promise to myself. I said: 'I'm not going to let this money ruin my life.'"

Isaacson said that after Jobs became ill with pancreatic cancer in 2003, he "no longer wanted to go out, no longer wanted to travel the world.

"He would focus on the products," he said. "He knew the couple of things he wanted to do which was the iPhone and then the iPad.

"He had a few other visions," he said. "I think he would've loved to have conquered television. He would love to make an easy-to-use television set.


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