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

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Judging the Ability to Contribute

In my case, once I had agreed to take the job at Apple, Steve laid out two tests for me. One involved the Apple II computer he had sent to me. It was a good thing I was curious enough to sit right down and learn how to use it. The day I arrived, he already expected me to be proficient.

The other test was the visit to Xerox PARC I described in my previous book. He didn’t tell me where we were headed but as he drove us there, with the music blaring, he asked what I thought of the Apple II and where I thought computers were going.

Again he was giving himself an opportunity to judge my reaction. He wanted to find out whether I shared his worldview about computers. I told him I found the Apple II exciting but that I was sure future machines could be made much easier to learn and to use.

This part of the probing had actually begun in our original conversation, and I would come to recognize it as a standard part of his routine with job candidates. “How do you like the Apple products?” he had asked. Since I had never seen an Apple product, much less used one, I told him I had to answer based on what I had seen—some IBM products in the development lab, the PC prototype Intel was working on, and the Osborne computer I had used at Intel. My experience was limited but, I told him, it seemed you almost had to be a programmer to use the products. The user interface was very technical. In addition, most people (back then) had a fear of computers. The word itself, ...

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