Steve Jobs — as brilliant as he was — is sometimes remembered for his not-so-nice side.
For example, he often told his engineers, “This is s—” when reviewing their work, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve.
But former Apple chief executive John Sculley, 76, says that was just one side of Steve.
“So many of the movies and portrayals of Steve Jobs just focus on the ‘bad boy’ Steve, or the idea that he wasn’t perfect,” Sculley told Business Insider. “But they don’t explain why so many people loved working for him as difficult as he was, and the reason is because he was an incredibly emotional person.”
This was confirmed by multiple people interviewed by Isaacson, including Steve’s sister, Mona Simpson, who wrote a eulogy for her brother that included the line, “He was an intensely emotional man,” and the Chief Design Officer of Apple, Jonathan Ive, who said, “He’s a very, very sensitive guy,” and, of course, by the multiple people who recalled his frequent crying episodes, which Sculley confirmed saying, “It was true.”
Based on Isaacson’s biography, here are a few of the times that Steve openly wept in front of his coworkers:
- When the father of Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak urged his son to take more ownership of Apple since he was the one doing the heavy-duty engineering work while Steve marketed the products
- When Wozniak got the employee badge that read “#1” (Steve was acquiesced when he was allowed “#0”)
- When he was kicked out of Apple after failing to oust John Sculley
- And when his iMac team installed CD trays instead of the up-and-coming CD slots.
Sculley readily admits that some of these episodes may have been part of how Steve controlled people because he was a “great manipulator,” but more importantly, he says it was a very real and physical manifestation of why people were drawn to him and enamoured by him.
“He focused his emotions entirely on the products that he was building,” Sculley says. “He took on overwhelming amounts of hard work and was willing to sacrifice things in his personal life because we wanted to create products that people would love and he was very emotional about that.”
Peers called his drive to create amazing products “The Noble Cause” back in the day, Sculley recalls, because Steve wanted to create technology that would change the world by enabling people to do amazing things they never thought were possible before. Steve had previously revealed this underlying motivator to Isaacson when he mused about what drove creative people like himself:
“We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow,” Jobs said. “That’s what has driven me.”
Jobs also admitted that sometimes, when he found something truly incredible, he was moved to tears. He told Isaacson: “Every once in a while, I find myself in the presence of purity — purity of spirit and love — and I always cry.”