How to win an argument with a headstrong genius like Steve Jobs

There’s no question that Steve Jobs was a visionary and a genius. But, like others of his ilk, he was also known to be difficult, headstrong and argumentative.

Photographer Doug Menuez was granted unprecedented access to Jobs, working with him from 1986 to 1988 to document Steve Jobs’ other company, NeXT and photographing him some more when he returned to Apple. 

Menuez went on to photograph other powerful figures of Silicon Valley, as well.

Those 250,000 photographs became the basis of the book “Fearless Genius,” along with a documentary and travelling exhibit.

Menuez told Inc. that one of the lessons he learned from Jobs was how to command respect.

As a photographer, he “tried to be a fly in the wall and not engage with Steve,” he said. But in the three years they hung out together “We had one really big fight where he tried to stop me from doing a portrait the way I wanted to do it,” he said. 

“It was an interesting experience because I had seen him in direct confrontations with engineers for [over] two years,” he said. 

He learned from watching those fights that he had to “be confident.” Jobs wanted people to “argue back.” So Menuez “fought back and I won the argument, actually.”

The experience taught him that when working with a genius, you have to be “confident” and “do your homework” so “you are willing to die for those ideas.”

If you aren’t that confident, “you’ll be crushed like a bug on a windscreen.”

On the other hand, no one, not even a genius, is always right about everything.

“Every genius has a blind spot,” Menuez says and that’s when your knowledge is equally powerful. “You’ve got something to offer, something of value yourself.”

Here’s the full story of the argument, told by Menuez to Inc.


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