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

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Looking for a Reaction

Candidates who survived those early parts of the interview with Steve then got the Steve Jobs sales pitch. He would lay out his vision with such enthusiasm and passion that it would be hard to say no.

When he could do it without compromising secrecy, he would sometimes show a prototype of some component that didn’t give anything away. On one occasion, after he had left Apple and started NeXT Computers, he was talking to an Apple employee he wanted to recruit for NeXT. He waxed poetic about this groundbreaking personal computer he and his teams were designing—and then showed off one state-of-the-art item. In fact, it was nothing more than a length of cable, but it was a cable that had been designed especially for the NeXT, to Steve’s very demanding standard. He displayed it with the reverence and awe that someone else might have lavished on a Rembrandt painting. Still, that innocuous cable was as much of the computer as Steve was willing to show, even to this trusted Apple employee he knew personally and was so eager to recruit.

Why bother showing something as essentially insignificant as a piece of cable? Because, again, he was looking for the reaction.

If I had been asked, “How should I let Mr. Jobs know I really want to work for him?” I would have answered, “Don’t mask your enthusiasm. If you see or hear something that gets you excited, let him see it.”

I’ve followed that principle in my own interviewing ever since, often hiring people who would not have ...

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