Today is the fourth anniversary of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ passing, and as has become tradition on October 4, some of his closest co-workers are sharing their fondest memories of what it was like working alongside him.
Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, Andrea Jung and Bud Tribble all shared short essays with Apple employees this morning on the company’s intranet. To commemorate Jobs’ legacy, Tim Cook told employees in an email to stop older executives today and ask what Jobs was really like.
With controversial movie Steve Jobs set for release later this month, Jobs’ co-workers’ essays provide a look at aspects of the visionary Apple CEO’s personality that those who only knew him through the public eye probably missed.
Here’s what Jobs’ friends had to say about working with him:
Phil Schiller on chilling with Steve before keynotes:
There were so many good times. We would be sitting backstage during the shows in darkness behind a giant wall and on the other side of the wall was an audience, anything from a thousand to six thousand people. We’re watching this huge screen projected in reverse and you know every slide, every video, every demo, and we’re just waiting. And then you’ll hear the applause of the cheer. You just get filled with so much happiness and pride — about all this work for months that came to this moment. We would be back there with Steve and he’s feeling the same thing. And that fuels us through the whole show. Those were always great shared moments with Steve.
Bud Tribble recalls building the Mac with Steve:
Steve was not a lecturer. If he really wanted to impart or teach you something, he would show you. In 1981, just when the original Mac team had formed — there were maybe a dozen people — we were still trying to figure out what we were building. What should it be? What should it do? What should it look like? And Steve came in one day and said, “We’re going to go on a field trip.” And we all thought it would be some team-building exercise. Then he said, “We’re going to San Francisco to the de Young museum. They have a Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit and we’re going to just spend the whole day there, looking at what this guy did.”
It turned out to be an incredibly good lesson and it set the tone for the Mac group. The electric light had been invented and Thomas Edison wanted to have not just a burning bulb, but a beautiful thing. He convinced Tiffany, and artist, to make lamps. Tiffany used glass and chemistry and metallurgy to build art that was very useful to control light.
Andrea Jung talks about Jobs’ caring side:
As a CEO, you have good days and bad days, and I remember I had a bad press day. Steve was a true friend — he called me on the phone and said, “Just ignore it. It’s hard but I’ve learned to. If you don’t fail, you’re not trying. Some of the world’s biggest successes come from learning from mistakes. Keep moving forward.” He was thoughtful and caring. That’s the Steve I knew. Those little touches.
Eddy Cue on how Steve Jobs was like family:
Working with him, I always felt that there was a personal connection. It wasn’t just work. And in a way, sometimes he was a brother; sometimes he was a father figure, depending on what it was. But it was a family member nonetheless. And it was somebody you didn’t want to disappoint. I’ve never felt that way about anybody else that I’ve worked with. You feel that way about your family. You don’t want to disappoint your dad, you may not want to disappoint your brother or your kids or your wife. But you generally don’t feel that way about your boss, per se. There was a different feeling. He had that. And I think that’s part of the personal touch of the relationship that at least I felt I had with him around it.
That was the person he was, the person I knew. There were obviously times we disagreed, fought, and other things — like any relationship has. But he was a person who really cared.
Tim Cook’s post about Steve’s compassion:
In February of 2009, Steve was on a leave of absence from Apple and spending his time at his home. I would drop by after work and discuss many things with him. He was waiting for a liver transplant and his health seemed to be rapidly deteriorating. One day in particular, he seemed especially ill and I left feeling so distraught that I threw up in his yard.
I was worried he would not live long enough to reach the top of the waiting list for a cadaver liver. After checking out my own health and researching living donor liver transplants, I visited Steve again and told him I wanted to give him a portion of my liver. Despite his condition and the uncertainty of whether he would live long enough to be at the top of the waiting list, he adamantly refused to accept my offer for fear it would place my own health in jeopardy.
That was the kind of person he was. He was unselfish in the face of his own mortality. Even when his outlook was bleak and he had every right to accept help, he refused, rather than put a friend’s health at risk. He put his compassion for me about his own needs, and I will never forget it.