Apr 25 2012

4 Prescient Quotes from the Lost Steve Jobs Tapes

Writer Brent Schlender dug through his interview archives to unearth some lost gems from the late Apple CEO.

It's been roughly six months since Apple visionary Steve Jobs died, but his influence on the technology industry has yet to fade. The foresight of his words and proclamations continue to carry weight - even from the grave.

Writer and journalist Brent Schlender had a relationship with Steve Jobs that extended over several years. After Jobs' passing, Schlender decided to dig through his archive of interviews with Jobs to see if there was anything more to be gleaned from them. What emerged are what Schlender, and Fast Company, call the Lost Steve Jobs Tapes.

Drawing on information culled largely from the dark period when Jobs was ousted from Apple (1985-1996), Schlender finds that the forced hiatus allowed Jobs to emerge a better, more effective manager.

The lessons are powerful: Jobs matured as a manager and a boss; learned how to make the most of partnerships; found a way to turn his native stubbornness into a productive perseverance. He became a corporate architect, coming to appreciate the scaffolding of a business just as much as the skeletons of real buildings, which always fascinated him.

He mastered the art of negotiation by immersing himself in Hollywood, and learned how to successfully manage creative talent, namely the artists at Pixar. Perhaps most important, he developed an astonishing adaptability that was critical to the hit-after-hit-after-hit climb of Apple's last decade. All this, during a time many remember as his most disappointing.

Here are 4 quotes from Schlender's lost sessions with Steve Jobs.

On management being like The Beatles:

“My model of management is The Beatles. The reason I say that is because each of the key people in The Beatles kept the others from going off in the directions of their bad tendencies.”

On the power of the network:

“At [Xerox] PARC, they had 200 computers networked using electronic mail and file servers. It was an electronic community of collaboration that they used every day. I didn't see that because I was so excited about the graphical user interface. It's taken me, and to some extent the rest of the industry, a whole decade to finally start to address that second breakthrough - using computers for human collaboration rather than just as word processors and individual productivity tools.”

On the importance of a good hire:

"The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world. And when you're in a field where the dynamic range is 25 to 1, boy, does it pay off."

On the importance of building a company for the long term:

“I was at Apple 10 years. I would have preferred to be there the rest of my life. So I'm a long-term kind of person. I have been trained to think in units of time that are measured in several years. With what I've chosen to do with my life, you know, even a small thing takes a few years. To do anything of magnitude takes at least five years, more likely seven or eight. Rightfully or wrongfully, that's how I think."

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steve_Jobs.jpg" target="_blank">Matthew Yohe</a>