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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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Capturing the Steve Jobs Legacy

The concept of Apple University obviously stayed with Steve through the years. In 2008, he revived it, this time in a somewhat different form. He convinced Dr. Joel Podolny, the dean of Yale University’s School of Management, to leave Yale and accept the title as dean of a revived Apple University. For some reason, Steve wanted to keep the project secret. Yale announced that Podolny was leaving to “lead educational initiatives at Apple”—clearly an intentionally cryptic phrase. Apple was silent, with not even a press release acknowledging Podolny’s somewhat curious cover title as vice president of human resources, the same title I had once held.

Podolny had earlier been a faculty member at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which is probably how Steve came to know of him. After becoming dean of Yale’s management school, Podolny revamped the curriculum, replacing traditional courses in accounting and marketing with novel multidisciplinary programs. He was widely rumored to be in line for the position as a university president—a highly respected position and an opportunity it could not have been easy to walk away from. This was another example of the Jobsian powers of persuasion: when he decided on someone he wanted to hire, he was a very difficult man to say no to.

On leaving Yale, Podolny wrote to the students he was leaving behind, “While there are many great companies, I cannot think of one that has had a tremendous personal meaning for me ...

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