Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs

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“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful – that’s what matters to me.”

Residence: Palo Alto, California, US

Nationality: American

Occupation: Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc, Co-founder and CEO of Pixar and neXT Inc.

Years Active: 1974–2011

Net Worth: US$7 billion approx (at the time of his death)

History/Background:

Steven Paul Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. Soon after, the Jobs family moved to Mountain View, California. Jobs began to develop interest for electronics when he was working with his father in the family garage. When Jobs was young, he was remembered as a loner and always had a different way of looking at things. As an intelligent and innovative thinker, Jobs was frustrated with formal schooling; he would often play pranks on others. Jobs then attended Cupertino Junior High and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California.

Following high school graduation in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. However, he dropped out of college after one semester since no class interests him. He then went to visit India in 1974 and joined the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto in 1975. At that point of time, he was fascinated with the marketing potential of the small computer Steve Wozniak (a member) had created. In 1976, he and Wozniak formed their own company – Apple Computer Company. Soon after, Jobs and Wozniak redesigned their computer by making the machines smaller, cheaper, and accessible to everyday consumers. The Apple II went to market in 1977, with impressive first year sales of $2.7 million. The company’s sales grew to $200 million within three years. Jobs and Wozniak had opened an entirely new market – personal computers.

In 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh, a machine that was not well received as it lacked features other personal computers had. Shortly after, Jobs resigned in 1985 and soon begin a new computer company called NeXT. However, it was not successful since the black-and-white computerw were too costly. Subsequently in 1986, Jobs purchased a small company called Pixar from filmmaker George Lucas. Pixar later produced wildly popular animation films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles; in total, Pixar’s films have netted $4 billion in box-offices worldwide. The studio merged with Walt Disney in 2006, making Steve Jobs the largest shareholder in Disney. In December 1996, Apple bought NeXT for $429 million. That same year, Jobs returned to his post as Apple’s CEO. In 1998, Jobs announced the release of the iMac, which featured powerful computing at an affordable price.

In 2003, Jobs discovered that he had a neuroendocrine tumor, a rare but operable form of pancreatic cancer. However, in 2004, he had a successful surgery to remove the pancreatic tumor.

Apple later developed and introduced Macbook Air, iPod and iPhone to the world, all of which have dictated the evolution of modern technology. Apple’s quarterly reports improved significantly in 2007. The company boasted a staggering $1.58 billion dollar profit, an $18 billion dollar surplus in the bank and zero debt. In 2008, iTunes became the second biggest music retailer in America. Half of Apple’s current revenue comes from iTunes and iPod sales, with 200 million iPods sold and six billion songs downloaded. For these reasons, Apple has been ranked No. 1 on Fortune magazine’s list of  “America’s Most Admired Companies,” as well as No. 1 among Fortune 500 companies for returns to shareholders.

On October 5, 2011, Apple Inc. announced that its co-founder had passed away. After battling pancreatic cancer for nearly a decade, Steve Jobs died in Palo Alto, aged 56 years old.

Leadership Traits & Styles:

Steve Jobs was creative in decision-making, willing to take risks, and had charismatic and visionary leadership style. He co-founded Apple Computer and took on leadership positions that developed Apple into a reputable company in hardware and software.

Firstly, Jobs creativity skills are notable in the major decisions that allowed Apple to emerge as an innovation leader. For example, the alliance with Microsoft ensured Apple’s survival by making an interested friend out a formidable foe. His leadership style inspired the company to return to its innovative roots. He shifted the focus to software, which led to development of iTunes, and ultimately the very successful iPod.

Secondly, he was willing to take risks to achieve his vision. For example, his approach to former foe, Bill Gates, and partnering with Microsoft involved great risks. Besides that, Jobs displayed a high level of sensitivity to his followers by attributing the success to them when he credited the company’s ability to maintain focus on innovation and customers. Jobs certainly took a proactive role in his leadership and ensured the company achieved its main objective.

Thirdly, when Apple selected Jobs to lead the company, it created strong leader-member relations to due to Jobs’ charisma. Followers are likely to accept him as a leader and exhibit willingness to accomplish tasks. His charismatic leadership provided followers with the inspiration and conviction about the company’s vision; followers are more motivated to attain the established goals because they believe in them and in their ability to materialize them.

Last but not least, Steve Jobs was a visionary leader. He often dreamt about and anticipated what the customers would expect in the future. Also, he believed that entrepreneurship is about taking challenge and making things happen. This can only be done with only one vision – “To Succeed”.

Achievements/Awards:

  • Apple ranked No. 1 on Fortune magazine’s list of  “America’s Most Admired Companies”, and No. 1 among Fortune 500 companies for returns to shareholders
  • Awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1984
  • Awarded Vanguard Award in 2002
  • Named most powerful person in business in Fortune Magazine November 27, 2007
  • Inducted into the California Hall of Fame on December 5, 2007
  • Named The Person of the Year in the Financial Times December 2010
  • Awarded Trustees Award in 2012

Contributions:

  • Co-Founder and former CEO of the Apple company
  • Founder of NeXT Computer
  • Owner of Pixar
  • Member of the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company in 2006.
  • Inventor or co-inventor of 342 US Patents relating to computers and portable devices
  • Spearheaded the advent of the Apple II, iMac, iBook, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, glass staircases
  • Created jobs (e.g. increased Apple full-time employees from 7,000 to 46,500)

Additional Comments:

We have heard people telling us how great Steve Jobs was; however, I never really knew how great this leader was until I read David Gelpman’s blog (one of Apple’s employee). Gelpman worked at Apple for more than 12 years, but had never met Steve Jobs for work purposes. In 2010, Gelpman’s friend, who was very much into technology, was dying of living disease; Gelpman felt that it would be a treat for the critically ill friend to see an iPad, which has not been officially released at that point of time. Therefore, he emailed Jobs, seeking his permission to present the iPad to his friend. However, Gelpman was expecting a “No” answer since the request involved a great deal of risk. Shocking enough, Gelpman received the precious two letters “OK” within 3 minutes; Jobs had therefore earned enormous respect from his employees because his decision had shown that he believed in them. When employees feel valued by the organization, they will be motivated to work even harder; Steve Jobs, who led from his heart, was no doubt a successful leader since he was able to influence others to willingly follow.

After reading up on several articles, I felt that Steve Jobs’ communication skills have also played a major role in transforming technology. He did not just see the future, he conveyed the stories to the world so that they would see it too. He told people about their situation with technology that was below perfection, and told them what his company had done to create something new that would impact their situation. He also told them what that benefit would look like, what it would feel like, showed them his excitement about this future, and his excitement sparked people’s excitement; Steve Jobs believed that “If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe”. Steve Jobs was successful because he thought, acted, and communicated from the inside out (The Golden Circle: Why –> How –> What); he clearly understood that people do not buy WHAT organizations do, they buy WHY organizations do it. In short, Steve Jobs sold dreams, not products.

Besides that, through Steve Jobs, I have learned the importance of believing in your vision. One of his pioneer visions was to change the world. Although Jobs have met several problems in the early stages (e.g. Macintosh and NeXT computers were not well received), he still believed in changing the world of technology. He worked hard towards his vision and eventually introduced Macbook Air, iPod and iPhone, all of which have dictated the evolution of modern technology.

Credits:

http://www.biography.com/people/steve-jobs-9354805?page=2
http://gawker.com/5847344/what-everyone-is-too-polite-to-say-about-steve-jobs
http://www.stempeldrang.nl/uploads/4/8/5/5/4855530/project_example.pdf
http://www.computerhope.com/people/steve_jobs.htm