How Steve Jobs Made A Million

Friday, October 20, 2017

Steve Jobs is best known for donning the black turtleneck and introducing a barrage of iProducts.

Whether you remember his rise to fame as a redemptive second stint running Apple or you think of him as a business icon that was wrongfully chased out in the first place, it turns out Steve Jobs owes his namesake to a couple of unknown animators.

The Fall
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built a tech giant in the 70s and 80s. There are television shows and movies about that saga. When Apple was struggling to stay afloat in the personal computing market, a segment they practically created, Jobs was ousted from the top seat of Apple. It was a humbling moment for an egotist obsessed with the legacy he would someday leave behind.

A Soft Place to Land
Luckily for Jobs, he had a nice little severance package and some stock options that he was able to cash out. He bought the controlling share of a little known tech company called Graphics Group from Lucasfilm. He knew the company because he sold them on Apple products a few years before. While it was a great place for him to land and recover, the Pixar family was afraid. Jobs had a reputation for shaking things up and Graphics Group operated much like a small business. They felt like family, not like a corporation.

A Different Face
Jobs had a reputation for being confrontational. At Pixar, he wasn’t. Though the small family feared that he would be looking for a chance to make heads roll and change the way the company worked, he seemed to embrace the creative team. He wasn’t a filmmaker, which probably helped them, but he didn’t try to be. Instead, he offered his feedback as a typical theatre goer. They looked at him as the first critic they needed to impress. Jobs relaxed his stance and approached Pixar differently. He wasn’t going to be able to rule Pixar like a tyrant; he had to change his tactics.

The Biggest Fan
Out of his element, Jobs became Pixar’s biggest fan. He even set up the idea of “pre-screening” as a way to “unveil” the new film the company worked on. Instead of being confined to the small computer screens, he made them watch things on a big screen and even praised the small and large achievements. Jobs became a cheerleader, a motivator, and a fan, rather than a control freak. This was a side of him that he brought back to Apple. His next stint at Apple saw him become the face of a tech giant. He even “pre-screened” new products and built excitement around them. He was a changed man. No longer the hostile tyrant that was chased out in the 80s, Jobs was now seen as the savior. He had high expectations, but he was approachable.

In the end, Steve Jobs took the new skills he learned at Pixar and applied them to Apple. He sold Pixar for over $7 billion to Disney and everyone knows about the wild success of his second stint at Apple which saw the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and a complete rebranding of the Mac line.

None of it would’ve been possible without his shift in mentality.