It seemed natural that Mr. Patel’s story should be toldmostly in the
first person – in his voice and through hiseyes. But
any inaccuracies or mistakes are mine.
I have a few people to thank. I am most obviouslyindebted to Mr.
Patel. My gratitude to him is as boundlessas the Pacific Ocean and I
hope that my telling of his taledoes not disappoint him. For getting
me started on thestory, I have Mr. Adirubasamy to thank. For helping
mecomplete it, I am grateful to three officials of exemplaryprofessionalism:
Mr. Kazuhiko Oda, lately of the JapaneseEmbassy in Ottawa; Mr. Hiroshi
Watanabe, of OikaShipping Company; and, especially, Mr. Tomohiro
Okamoto,of the Japanese Ministry of Transport, now retired. As forthe
spark of life, I owe it to Mr. Moacyr Scliar. Lastly, Iwould like to express
my sincere gratitude to that greatinstitution, the Canada Council for the
Arts, without whosegrant I could not have brought together this story
that hasnothing to do with Portugal in 1939. If we, citizens, do notsupport
our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination onthe altar of crude reality
and we end up believing innothing and having worthless dreams.
One of Jobs’s great strengths was knowing how to focus. “Deciding what
not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he said. “That’s true
for companies, and it’s true for products.”
He went to work applying this principle as soon as he returned to Apple.
One day he was walking the halls and ran into a young Wharton School
graduate who had been Amelio’s assistant and who said he was wrapping
up his work. “Well, good, because I need someone to do grunt work,” Jobs
told him. His new role was to take notes as Jobs met with the dozens of
product teams at Apple, asked them to explain what they were doing,
and forced them
to justify going
ahead with their
products or projects.
You must askhim all the questions you want.”Later, in Toronto, among
nine columns of Patels in thephone book, I found him, the main character.
My heartpounded as I dialed his phone number. The voice thatanswered
had an Indian lilt to its Canadian accent, lightbut unmistakable, like a trace
of incense in the air. “Thatwas a very long time ago,” he said.
Yet he agreed to meet.
We met many times. He showed me the diary he keptduring the events.
He showed me the yellowed newspaperclippings that made him briefly,
obscurely famous. He toldme his story. All the while I took notes. Nearly a
yearlater, after considerable difficulties, I received a tape and areport from
the Japanese Ministry of Transport. It was as Ilistened to that tape that
I agreed with Mr. Adirubasamythat this was, indeed, a story to make you believe in God.
Jobs disagreed. He telephoned Ed Woolard to say he was getting Apple out
of the licensing business. The board acquiesced, and in September he reached
a deal to pay Power Computing $100 million to relinquish its license and give
Apple access to its database of customers. He soon terminated the licenses of
the other cloners as well. “It was the dumbest thing in the world to let
companies making crappier hardware use our operating system and cut
into our sales,”
he later said.
God?””Yes.””That’s a tall order.””Not so tall that you can’t reach.”My waiter appeared.
I hesitated for a moment. I orderedtwo coffees. We introduced ourselves.
His name was FrancisAdirubasamy. “Please tell me your story,” I said.
“You must pay proper attention,” he replied.
“I will.” I brought out pen and notepad.
“Tell me, have you been to the botanical garden?” heasked.
“I went yesterday.””Didyou notice the toy train tracks?””Yes, I did.””A train
still runs on Sundays for the amusement of thechildren. But it used to run
twice an hour every day. Didyou take note of the names of the stations?””One
is called Roseville. It’s right next to the rosegarden.””That’s right. And the
other?””I don’t remember.””The sign was taken down. The other station was
oncecalled Zootown. The toy train had two stops: Roseville andZootown.
Once upon a time there was a zoo in thePondicherry Botanical Garden.”He
went on. I took notes, the elements of the story. “Youmust talk to him,”
he said, of the main character. “I knewhim very, very well. He’s a grown man now.
So upon his return to Apple he made killing the Macintosh clones a priority.
When a new version of the Mac operating system shipped in July 1997,
weeks after he had helped oust Amelio, Jobs did not allow the clone makers
to upgrade to it. The head of Power Computing, Stephen “King” Kahng,
organized pro-cloning protests when Jobs appeared at Boston Macworld that
August and publicly warned that the Macintosh OS would die if Jobs declined
to keep licensing it out. “If the platform goes closed, it is over,”
Kahng said. “
Closed is the
kiss of death.”
One of his motivating passions was to build a lasting company. At age twelve,
when he got a summer job at Hewlett-Packard, he learned that a properly run
company could spawn innovation far more than any single creative individual.
“I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you
organize a company,” he recalled. “The whole notion of how you build a company
is fascinating. When I got the chance to come back to Apple, I realized that
I would be useless without the company, and that’s why I decided to stay and rebuild it.”
Killing the Clones
One of the great debates about Apple was whether it should have licensed its
operating system more aggressively to other computer makers, the way Microsoft
licensed Windows. Wozniak had favored that approach from the beginning.
“We had the most beautiful operating system,” he said, “but to get it you had
to buy our hardware at twice the price. That was a mistake. What we should
have done was calculate an appropriate price to license the operating system.”
Alan Kay, the star of Xerox PARC who came to Apple as a fellow in 1984, also
fought hard for licensing the Mac OS software. “Software people are always
multiplatform, because you want to run on everything,” he recalled. “And
that was a huge battle, probably the largest battle I lost at Apple.”
After my writing day was over, I would go for walks inthe rolling hills of the tea estates.
Unfortunately, the novel sputtered, coughed and died. Ithappened in Matheran,
not far from Bombay, a small hillstation with some monkeys but no tea estates.
It’s a miserypeculiar to would-be writers. Your theme is good, as areyour sentences.
Your characters are so ruddy with life theypractically need birth certificates. The plot
you’ve mappedout for them is grand, simple and gripping. You’ve doneyour research,
gathering the facts – historical, social,climatic, culinary – that will give your story its
The dialogue zips
“They speak a funny Englishin India. They like words like bamboozle.” I remembered
hiswords as my plane started its descent towards Delhi, so theword bamboozle was
my one preparation for the rich, noisy,functioning madness of India. I used the
word on occasion,and truth be told, it served me well. To a clerk at a trainstation I said,
“I didn’t think the fare would be soexpensive. You’re, not trying to bamboozle me, are
you?” Hesmiled and chanted, “No sir! There is no bamboozlementhere. I have quoted
you the correct fare.”This second time to India I knew better what to expectand I knew
what I wanted: I would settle in a hill stationand write my novel. I had visions of myself
sitting at atable on a large veranda, my notes spread out in front ofme next to a
steaming cup of tea. Green hills heavy withmists would lie at my feet and the shrill
cries of monkeyswould fill my ears. The weather would be just right,requiring a light
sweater mornings and evenings, andsomething short-sleeved midday. Thus set up,
pen in hand,for the sake of greater truth, I would turn Portugal into afiction. That’s
what fiction is about, isn’t it, the selectivetransforming of reality? The twisting of it
to bring out itsessence? What need did I have to go to Portugal?
The lady who ran the place would tell me stories aboutthe struggle to boot the
British out. We would agree onwhat I was to have for lunch and supper the next day.
Despite the grueling schedule, the more that Jobs immersed himself in Apple, the more
he realized that he would not be able to walk away. When Michael Dell was asked at a
computer trade show in October 1997 what he would do if he were Steve Jobs and
taking over Apple, he replied, “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the
shareholders.” Jobs fired off an email to Dell. “CEOs are supposed to have class,”
it said. “I can see that isn’t an opinion you hold.” Jobs liked to stoke up rivalries as
a way to rally his team—he had done so with IBM and Microsoft—and he did so
with Dell. When he called together his managers to institute a build-to-order
system for manufacturing and distribution, Jobs used as a backdrop a blown-up
picture of Michael Dell with a target on his face.
“We’re coming after
he said to cheers
from his troops.
It was rough, really rough, the worst time in my life. I had a young family. I had Pixar.
I would go to work at 7 a.m. and I’d get back at 9 at night, and the kids would be in bed.
And I couldn’t speak, I literally couldn’t, I was so exhausted. I couldn’t speak to Laurene.
All I could do was watch a half hour of TV and vegetate. It got close to killing me. I was
driving up to Pixar and down to Apple in a black Porsche convertible, and I started to get
kidney stones. I would rush to the hospital and the hospital would give me a shot of
Demerol in the butt and eventually I would pass it.This book was born as I was hungry.
Let me explain. Inthe spring of 1996, my second book, a novel, came out inCanada.
It didn’t fare well. Reviewers were puzzled, ordamned it with faint praise. Then readers ignored it.
Despite my best efforts at playing the clown or the trapezeartist, the media circus made no
difference. The book didnot move. Books lined the shelves of bookstores like kidsstanding
in a row to play baseball or soccer, and mine wasthe gangly, unathletic kid that
no one wanted on theirteam. It vanished quickly and quietly.
The fiasco did not affect me too much. I had alreadymoved on to
another story, a novel set in Portugal in 1939.
Only I was feeling restless. And I had a little money.
So I flew to Bombay. This is not so illogical if yourealize three things: that a stint in
India will beat therestlessness out of any living creature; that a little moneycan go
a long way there; and that a novel set in Portugalin
1939 may have very little to do with Portugal in 1939.
I had been to India before, in the north, for five months.
On that first trip I had come to the subcontinent completelyunprepared.
Actually, I had a preparation of one word.
When I told a friend
who knew the
of mytravel plans,
he said casually,
That week he gathered his top managers and staff in the Apple auditorium
for a rally, followed by a picnic featuring beer and vegan food, to celebrate
his new role and the company’s new ads. He was wearing shorts, walking
around the campus barefoot, and had a stubble of beard. “I’ve been back
about ten weeks, working really hard,” he said, looking tired but deeply
determined. “What we’re trying to do is not highfalutin. We’re trying to get
back to the basics of great products, great marketing, and great distribution.
Apple has drifted away from doing the basics really well.”
For a few more weeks Jobs and the board kept looking for a permanent CEO.
Various names surfaced—George M. C. Fisher of Kodak, Sam Palmisano at
IBM, Ed Zander at Sun Microsystems—but most of the candidates were
understandably reluctant to consider becoming CEO if Jobs was going to remain
an active board member. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Zander declined
to be considered because he “didn’t want Steve looking over his shoulder,
second-guessing him on every decision.” At one point Jobs and Ellison pulled
a prank on a clueless computer consultant who was campaigning for the job; they
sent him an email saying that he had been selected, which caused both amusement
and embarrassment when stories appeared in the papers
that they were just toying with him.
By December it had become clear that Jobs’s iCEO status had evolved from
interim to indefinite. As Jobs continued to run the company, the board quietly
deactivated its search. “I went back to Apple and tried to hire a CEO, with the help
of a recruiting agency, for almost four months,” he recalled. “But they didn’t
produce the right people. That’s why I finally stayed. Apple
was in no shape to attract anybody good.”
The problem Jobs faced was that running two companies was brutal.
Looking back on it,
he traced his
back to those days:
Very few other companies or corporate leaders—perhaps none—could have
gotten away with the brilliant audacity of associating their brand with Gandhi,
Einstein, Picasso, and the Dalai Lama. Jobs was able to encourage people to
define themselves as anticorporate, creative, innovative rebels simply by the
computer they used. “Steve created the only lifestyle brand in the tech industry,”
Larry Ellison said. “There are cars people are proud to have—Porsche, Ferrari,
Prius—because what I drive says something about me. People feel
the same way about an Apple product.”
Starting with the “Think Different” campaign, and continuing through the rest
of his years at Apple, Jobs held a freewheeling three-hour meeting every
Wednesday afternoon with his top agency, marketing, and communications
people to kick around messaging strategy. “There’s not a CEO on the planet
who deals with marketing the way Steve does,” said Clow. “Every Wednesday he
approves each new commercial, print ad, and billboard.” At the end of the
meeting, he would often take Clow and his two agency colleagues, Duncan
Milner and James Vincent, to Apple’s closely guarded design studio to see
what products were in the works. “He gets very passionate and emotional
when he shows us what’s in development,” said Vincent. By sharing with his
marketing gurus his passion for the products as they were being created,
he was able to ensure that almost every ad they produced was infused with his emotion.
As he was finishing work on the “Think Different” ad, Jobs did some different
thinking of his own. He decided that he would officially take over running the
company, at least on a temporary basis. He had been the de facto leader since
Amelio’s ouster ten weeks earlier, but only as an advisor. Fred Anderson had the
titular role of interim CEO. On September 16, 1997, Jobs announced that he would
take over that title, which inevitably got abbreviated as iCEO. His commitment was
tentative: He took no salary and signed no contract. But he was not tentative
in his actions.
He was in charge,
and he did not
rule by consensus.
The narration by Richard Dreyfuss worked well, but Lee Clow had another idea.
What if Jobs did the voice-over himself? “You really believe this,” Clow told him.
“You should do it.” So Jobs sat in a studio, did a few takes, and soon produced a
voice track that everyone liked. The idea was that, if they used it, they would not
tell people who was speaking the words, just as they didn’t caption the iconic pictures.
Eventually people would figure out it was Jobs. “This will be really powerful to
have it in your voice,” Clow argued. “It will be a way to reclaim the brand.”
Jobs couldn’t decide whether to use the version with his voice or to stick with
Dreyfuss. Finally, the night came when they had to ship the ad; it was due to air,
appropriately enough, on the television premiere of Toy Story. As was often the
case, Jobs did not like to be forced to make a decision. He told Clow to ship both
versions; this would give him until the morning to decide. When morning came,
Jobs called and told them to use the Dreyfuss version. “If we use my voice, when
people find out they will say it’s about me,” he told Clow. “It’s not. It’s about Apple.”
Ever since he left the apple commune, Jobs had defined himself, and by extension
Apple, as a child of the counterculture. In ads such as “Think Different” and “1984,”
he positioned the Apple brand so that it reaffirmed his own rebel streak, even after
he became a billionaire, and it allowed other baby boomers and their kids to do the
same. “From when I first met him as a young guy, he’s had the greatest intuition
of the impact
he wants his
brand to have on
people,” said Clow.
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the
only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They
push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy
ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough
In order to evoke the spirit of Dead Poets Society, Clow and Jobs wanted to
get Robin Williams to read the narration. His agent said that Williams didn’t
do ads, so Jobs tried to call him directly. He got through to Williams’s wife,
who would not let him talk to the actor because she knew how persuasive
he could be. They also considered Maya Angelou and Tom Hanks. At a
fund-raising dinner featuring Bill Clinton that fall, Jobs pulled the president
aside and asked him to telephone Hanks to talk him into it, but the
president pocket-vetoed the request. They ended up with Richard
Dreyfuss, who was a dedicated Apple fan.
to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
Jobs, who could identify with each of those sentiments, wrote some of the
lines himself, including “They push the human race forward.” By the time of
the Boston Macworld in early August, they had produced a rough version.
They agreed it was not ready, but Jobs used the concepts, and the “think
different” phrase, in his keynote speech there. “There’s a germ of a brilliant
idea there,” he said at the time. “Apple is about people who think outside
the box, who want to use computers to help them change the world.”
They debated the grammatical issue: If “different” was supposed to modify
the verb “think,” it should be an adverb, as in “think differently.” But Jobs
insisted that he wanted “different” to be used as a noun, as in “think victory”
or “think beauty.” Also, it echoed colloquial use, as in “think big.” Jobs later
explained, “We discussed whether it was correct before we ran it. It’s grammatical,
if you think about what we’re trying to say. It’s not think the same, it’s
think different. Think a little different, think a lot different,
wouldn’t hit the
meaning for me.”