(Matthew Yohe / Wikipedia Creative Commons)


Opinion: The duality of Steve Jobs – A successful man who mistreated his people

Steve Jobs' character is reflected in his business success and his interactions with his people: he’s great because his companies were great, but he’s also horrible because he treated his people horribly.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/edwinbai/" target="_self">Edwin Bai</a>

Edwin Bai

September 20, 2022
Many people have different views on Steve Jobs. Some say he’s a rude and indecent tyrant living in his own reality separate from the reality of everyone else. Others say that he was the greatest man of our time, a genius rivaling Einstein or Moses bringing to Earth a tablet without commandments.

Jobs was like any other man with talents and a determined mindset capable of doing anything if he tried hard enough, but he was also a ruthless man who berated his workers and then cried like a child if he didn’t get what he wanted. So what kind of person was he really? 

Throughout his life, Jobs was the centerpiece of many great technological innovations, earning him a spot in the 2012 One Club Hall of Fame. To most people, he appears as a savvy, inventive genius, yet what he is off the stage is much different than the impression most people get of him.

Walter Isaacson’s biography “Steve Jobs gives an insight to what he was like personally, illustrating both positive and negative aspects of the man. On the positive side, Jobs did have a phenomenal work ethic and drive to continue forward despite setbacks. When he was ousted from Apple the first time, he didn’t give up, nor did he rage and become a drunken alcoholic brooding over his friend’s betrayal.

Instead, he did two things; he created NeXT, a successful hardware company, and turned Pixar from a struggling animation company into a multi-billion film maker. 

It is evident that Jobs has some gift for ingenuity and creativity, having turned Apple and Pixar into the world famous companies they are known today, but Jobs maximized his talent with his strong work ethic, working every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to Business Insider. As a result, his determination to create the best products possible led to his remarkable successes. Through his incredible work ethic and talent, it is evident that Jobs has some extraordinary characteristics.

However, Isaacson’s biography also exposes Jobs’ negative qualities as well, most notably his tendency to put down new ideas suggested by his colleagues and his lack of obedience towards his superiors. Sometimes, it seemed as if Jobs lived in his own imaginary world where his will is the law of the universe, making him arrogant and egotistical, unwilling to listen to those he deemed below himself. 

This made his relationship with those around him uneasy, which made compromising with other people at his level impossible. Jobs also often jeopardized his products if he didn’t like the tiniest of details about it. Business Insider clearly illustrated the darker side of Jobs as a prone to tantrum, widely hated, credit hogging dictator at Apple during the early 1980s. 

His egotistical personality made it hard for his employees to talk or reason with him, and sometimes this hindered him. Jobs could not have known what was the best choice for everything, and his employees might have had some insight or useful perspective, and his refusal to listen to them might have hampered Apple’s growth to become an even bigger company. 

With this in mind, the character of Steve Jobs can be summed up with his successes with his companies and his interactions with his people: he’s great because his companies were great, but he’s also horrible because he treated his people horribly. As such, there is a duality in Jobs’s character that makes him neither particularly great nor evil.



The photo in this story is by Matthew Yohe at Wikipedia Creative Commons.