Steve Jobs was famous for having a “reality distortion field.”
Essentially, Jobs could say something that was outlandish, or borderline untrue, and people would still believe it because of his incredible salesmanship, for lack of a better word. He just had a way of convincing people.
Here’s the latest example from Jony Ive, Apple’s head of design who worked closely with Jobs for years.
At the Vanity Fair conference, Ive said he once asked Jobs, “why it could have been perceived in his critique of a piece of work he was a little bit too harsh.”
Ive wanted Jobs to be a little bit kinder when he delivered his critiques.
Jobs asked Ive why he should be kinder.
Ive said, “Because I care about the team.”
Jobs said, “No Jony, you’re just really vain.”
Ive was stunned when he heard that.
Jobs continued, “No, you just want people to like you. And I’m surprised at you because I thought you really held the work up as the most important, not how you believed you were perceived by other people.”
Ive says he was “really cross” when he heard that because he knew Jobs was right. He called this a “brutally brilliant insight.”
It sounds a little ridiculous. You can be kind and still put the work ahead of everything else. But, it worked. Ive said that no one has voluntarily left his design team. They must enjoy the harsh critiques from time to time. As long as the work continues to be great.
Here’s the clip of Ive. He talks about this at the 1:43 mark: