Apple’s first CEO wasn’t Steve Jobs, but rather Michael Scott, who ran the company from February in 1977 to March 1981. Installed by Apple’s first backer Mike Markkula because Jobs and Steve Wozniak couldn’t be trusted to run the company, Scott has a unique view of Jobs in his youth: a hot head who ignored people and talent in favor of an anal-retentive attention to aesthetic detail.
You’ll want to read all of Business Insider‘s incredible interview with Michael Scott, but this anecdote about Steve Jobs’ attention to detail is fascinating:
[Steve Jobs] was maybe more particular [then than he is now]. The Apple II case came, it had a beige and a green, so for all the standard colors of beige available in the world, of which there are thousands, none was exactly proper for him. So we actually had to create “Apple beige” and get that registered.
I stayed out of it but for weeks, maybe almost six weeks, the original Apple II case, Jobs wanted a rounded edge on it so it didn’t have a hard feel. They spent weeks and weeks arguing exactly how rounded it would be. So that attention to detail is what Steve is known for, but it also is his weakness because he pays attention to the detail of the product, but not to the people.
Scott continues to say he has no idea of what Jobs’ management style is now, but during his tenure as CEO, Steve Jobs couldn’t have a staff, because he wouldn’t actually supervise them, or give them reviews, or get them raises or health insurance. He’d just yell at them.
Obviously, even if Jobs hasn’t mellowed with age, he’s at least taken Scott’s advice and made a habit of growing the people and talent he needs for Apple to succeed, not just the products. If Scott is to be believed, though, it took almost twenty years for Jobs to get there, though.