Youtube Lessons on Leadership- Steve Jobs Clip

posted on February 17, 2022

It has been a year since my last post. A year since I joined as CEO of Our Second Nature.

It has been a fruitful experience, leading a company, its team, individuals, always is. And It never fails to give me a sense of fulfilment.

My biggest joy lies in helping a colleague grow, and learn.

My personal challenge is … how do I myself grow? How do I myself get better? Lest the student overtakes the master … (which in itself is a happy problem of course).

I think the key to this lies in one’s attitude. Two key criteria are necessary.

#1) A “healthy” sense of self doubt

#2) The ability to glean lessons off anything, effectively.

For #1, I’m well aware of the world we live in today, with its real issues of mental health. And this is why I qualified my definition with the phrase “healthy”.

Self doubt, can be either a constructive emotion or feeing, or a destructive one. In the right doses, it can help keep confidence from becoming arrogance (a very fine line), or in other situations help make a person with a lack of confidence grow more confident.

It precipitates a hunger. A thirst to improve. To overcome other emotions which will take less priority, and move into the background.

With regards to #2, we live in an age where information is ALL around us. The internet, social media, and now the metaverse, are accessible and infinite resources from which almost ANY answer known to man can be found.

Google, organized it and made it accessible to us. But it is each individual’s personal responsibility to organize it in our heads and make it useful to ourselves. To crystallize the lessons, and effect them into actions that will yield a positive result. This is what I mean by “effectively”.

I am constantly looking for more external sources to improve myself. Be it through conversations and questions I ask my friends, colleagues, or strangers around me … to my travel/daily experiences in a restaurant or shop, to the videos I watch on youtube, or the editorials and books I read.

Today, I came across an old youtube video in which Steve Jobs responds to an “aggro” member of the audience.

Here is the video, and my key observation below:

Here is a man of stature on a big stage, and a member of the audience has just taken an aggressive line of questioning. One that is laced with a personal insult.

Steve Jobs is infamous for his temper and anger. But I think many people misunderstand anger for being a lack of emotional control. Many times, that’s true … but not in Job’s case in my opinion (I will address this later).

He is human, and you can actually see him seething.

He buys time, pacing abit, then sitting down, taking a sip of water and dragging his words.

His first line, “You know, you can please some of the people, some of the time, but … ” suggests that he might just be thinking about launching a stink bomb the way of the audience member.

Then tension continues as he says, … “One of the hardest things, when you are trying to effect change is that people like this gentleman … ” Again, anybody who knows Jobs can imagine where he might be going, and some are waiting for fireworks.

But then he takes what I can only describe as a beautiful arc, and affirms what the man says, ” … are right … in some areas” … defusing the tension, qualifying his statement, and redirecting the audience’s attention to the message he actually wants to deliver.

These 30 seconds on this clip demonstrate his level of emotional quotient. To me it is on genius level, and it is very rare. Most people buckle at least emotionally, when under pressure, pretty quickly.

Taking a little segway into “losing your temper” and “getting angry”.

I think most people would associate any “loss of temper” and “getting angry”, as a loss of control, and an undesirable event. They might also interpret it as a lack of emotional quotient.

I disagree.

I think almost ALL emotions can be useful in one way or another. If it is directed at the right things and for the right reasons. Take this reenactment of an infamous steve jobs moment as an example.

Admittedly, it is a younger Steve Jobs, and he must have mellowed as he aged. It seems irrational, that Jobs should go batshit crazy over such a seemingly small detail, and toward somebody who had not been all that belligerent.

Personally, I read it differently, and would react in the same way, if presented with the same variables. This is not to say, I can achieve anything close to what Jobs of course. But bear with me for the sake of this thought exercise.

We first have to try to imagine the context of the situation. This is not the first time Jobs is speaking to this group of people about his vision. It is a follow up meeting. He has articulated it before, and is pulling this group of people along. He continues to do so, explaining to them why it is important to lead and innovate, to be different.

The turning point comes when he asks for updates about a feature he wants … different font styles on the drop down menu. And this is where his people, probably overworked, with lots of different tasks, reply that a feature he has asked for for months, is delayed. Because they thought it was not a priority.

When the programmer tunes in to the argument, belittling the function he has asked for and de-prioritising it … Jobs goes mental, and fires the guy. Supposedly the most competent programmer in the group.

His reply to that “fact” is that, “He is the best programmer that doesnt care about our vision”

This is key … the question you have to ask yourself is … did “Steve just lose his best programmer” … or did “Steve just lose a liability to the vision of his product”. I think the latter is true, and even if it was not, it would at minimum serve as a wake up call to any others who do not buy the vision, that they has best leave. That may be brutal, but if you have worked with people, you would realize it is necessary sometimes.

A clear vision with a clear set of values should attract AND repel people. Alignment is absolutely crucial in achieving the best result. Anything or anyone who gets in your way or slows you down as a leader must be removed.

Of course there are many ways to play this card, and it does not need to be all that combustive, but as I have mentioned there is a time a place for everything. If you keep dealing out carrots, and it does not work, what would you do as a leader? Send your kid away to the naughty corner once more?

To summarize, the key takeaway I got from the “Steve Jobs Insult Response” video was that exercising emotional quotient, is a skill/craft that needs to be honed. If done well, it can redirect negative/malicious intent towards a positive outcome. It is a lesson I will keep close to my chest, even whilst I retain my nuclear option for the right moments :-p

The best is yet to be!