I was just reading an article on Steve Jobs (here > http://www.wired.com/business/2012/07/ff_stevejobs/all/), and I have to tell you my thoughts. Maybe it’s not my place to say so, as I’m not a businessman or an entrepreneur, but I’m out here to express myself, to show my dear readers a slice of how I see the world, and to start some discussions. We’ll see if this works.
I am not a fan of Steve Jobs, what the above article refers to as a “Rejector”. He was an awful human being, motivated by the soulless teachings of those such as Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged. His philosophy of business was shaped by Ayn and similar writers and thinkers, and sorrow to all of us for having to live in the world he left behind.
By all accounts, well documented and verified by multiple sources, he was a nasty, selfish man. If you don’t believe me, look here > http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-sense-people/201111/why-was-steve-jobs-sometimes-so-mean or here > http://technology.inquirer.net/5713/steve-jobs-a-genius-but-a-bad-mean-manager or here > http://www.firstpost.com/world/steve-jobs-was-mean-petulant-brittle-abrasive-cantankerous-115076.html or a hundred other places if you wish. Now, I have no problem with someone like Jobs being direct, and even forceful with an employee. Indeed, I have often done better as an employee when a boss was like this with me. But to insult the PERSON is going too far. If my children make a mistake, I don’t insult them, I address the issue. I can be firm, even angry and aggressive with them, but I always treat them with love in my heart. I try to do this with everyone I meet or deal with, wherever I am. I’m not lifting myself up on a pedestal here; I’m not better than anyone else. I just know that compassion and love are stronger motivators than insults and put-downs. To put it another way, if you had worked for Steve Jobs, and didn’t live up to HIS expectations, two assumptions would be inherent in the following “insult-fest”;
1) Steve Jobs is a better person than you are, and knows more than you do, and
2) Your failure may have hurt YOU, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that your failure hurt HIM, and that’s more important than anything that happens to you.
Um, really? I”m not making this up, either. Steve Jobs happens to have had more “success” – at least as we tend to judge it today – than, say, the neighborhood bully, but the tactics are the same. Steve Jobs was a bully. And if you know me, you know Bullies are just above the influenza virus in my book.
[bool-ee] plural bul·lies,verb, bul·lied, bul·ly·ing, adjective, interjection
The reason he did this was to save money for Apple. It was one of the first moves he made when he regained control of that storied company in 1997. He did it to save money, which meant he wasn’t paying Americans any wages he didn’t have to: Chinese laborers work for a lot less than we do, for various reasons I won’t get in to here.
He also oversaw an extremely successful marketing campaign, and led a revolution in design for Apple products. So he made his products more desirable, and made Americans (and others, to be fair) want to possess them more.
He did this while not putting any more of that money into the American economy than he had to. He increased demand for a high-price item, really a luxury item, even now, and reduced the amount of money in the economy, making it harder for people to buy that product. This, to me at least, is short-sighted. Henry Ford is famously quoted as saying “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” Mr. Jobs only cared about the lowest cost part of this equation. Granted, I’ll agree Apple products are more reliable than, say, Windows products, but still, he’d sell a product with bugs if he had to, just as long as it sold, and the bugs didn’t bite him in the behind, so to speak. And as far as paying the highest wages possible? That went right out the window, except, of course, for the corporate executives.
Also, although there is no direct proof that Apple policies put in place by Jobs were a factor in the Foxconn Suicide scandal in 2010, the reported poor working conditions were very likely a direct result of demands from companies such as Apple to make products cheaper and cheaper, faster and faster. (look here > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn_suicides if you’d like more information on this). This is just the most visible sign that the western demand for cheap electronics is a negative factor in world progress. Another would be the environmental issues stemming from these manufacturing practices in China and other South East Asian countries (for more on this subject, start here > http://sydney.edu.au/news/84.html?newsstoryid=5662).
Finally, I have to question a man who was married in a Buddhist ceremony and – at least publicly - professed to be Buddhist, who was such a promoter of materialism and consumption. Buddhism teaches that this “stuff” of life is transitory, and never, ever provides lasting happiness. So he professed a religion that espouses a very spare life, and then devoted his life to filling the world with materialist junk, the exact thing that would make it hard for others to avoid materialism. Oh, and I’m sure with his hundreds of millions of dollars, he lead an ascetic lifestyle, right? I’m sure he meditated deeply every day, and lived in a simple house, with few if any of the electronics he pushed on everyone else. Right?
So yes, I reject Steve “Jesus” Jobs. I reject “Saint Steve”. I reject his worship – and have no illusions about it, many, many people actively worship him in their own way. He was not better than me, or you. And he certainly was NOT a great human being. He was an awful one, and his stain will pollute the minds of entrepreneurs for decades to come. The world is a poorer, dirtier, meaner place for his having lived. He failed to increase the one commodity this world needs more of – and that his purported religion celebrates: Compassion.