Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Steve Jobs, Who Was He?


Part 1 - Who Was Steve Jobs?

I think Steve was a transformational business leader, who thought outside the box. After learning about his death, I decided to find out more about Steve and share what I have learned.

In some ways, he was not much different from you and me. He was raised (and adopted) by a working class couple. Growing up he was energetic, prankful, and fun-loving. Yet, he was different.

He had above average intelligence, (skipping one grade in elementary school). He showed single-child syndrome - ego-centric, a loner with few friends, and did not know how to share. In other words, his emotional quotient was rather low. It showed up in his relationships with his friends, girl friends, family, employee, co-workers, business partners, and bosses. The only exception may be his wife who was strong enough to stand up to him and weather the ups and downs of his personality. He found Apple, bore a child out of wedlock, and eventually became rich and famous.

His view of the world was black and white, either you were insanely right or f***ing wrong. His emotions fluctuated between the two extremes.

The biggest difference between him and us was his passion - passion for excellence.

In the American business schools, we are taught to fulfill the needs of stakeholders - stock holders, investors, owners, employees, creditors, and suppliers - by maximizing return on investments. In reality, the CEOs are fulfilling their needs first - getting 6-8 figures salaries, huge stock options, and golden parachutes upon separation. Steve thought that was the wrong approach. He believed in creating a market based on great products and innovation. He proved that with iTunes, iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and iCloud.

Part 2 - His Final Year 2011

In August of 2011 Apple Computer became the most valuable company in the world. However, Steve did not get to enjoy the success because his health had been weakened by long bouts with cancers, which had spread from his pancreas to his liver. Of course any other person with ordinary means would not have been able to afford the best medical care that he had gotten, including a liver transplant.

He became the CEO of Apple again in 1997 when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. He and his A team worked day and night to turn this around. Sometimes he would call someone in the middle of the night about a great idea he came up with. He was a determined and tireless worker. In 2004 he had surgery to remove pancreatic tumor. In 2005 he realized he may have sacrificed his health in return. In 2009 he had a liver transplant. On October 5th 2011, he passed away to the grief and amazement of the world - that a public icon had left.

In summer of 2011, I decided to get a financial roadmap for my eventual retirement. I was 61. After researching for a few weeks on the Internet for a financial planner, I and my wife interviewed two reputable financial planners in the San Francisco Bay Area. One planner seemed successful, managing multi-million dollars asset for his clients. He had about 12 employees working for him. He was very professional and organized. However, he struck me as someone who was pale and frail for his age, around mid 40's.

Money does not mean much if you do not have health. Often while in a "rat race", we chase after money or success, but neglect our health. Is material success more important than health? Or is it the other way around? 

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