Would you rather be Steve Jobs or Bill Gates?

“When I put the accompanying quotes side by side…”

You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give them that. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. – Steve Jobs

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates

“…my first thought was that Bill Gates’s greatest source of learning is Steve Jobs, and my second thought was that Bill Gates might have more frustrated, disheartened, or enraged customers than any executive in the history of the planet,” Dale Dauten writes for The Boston Globe.

“Indeed, searching out ‘the most unhappy’ Gates customers would be risky business, as I’ve seen people using Microsoft products who seem as though they would gladly take Bill Gates out to a field and take baseball bats to him, like the scene with the printer in the movie ‘Office Space,'” Dauten writes.

Dauten writes, “Here’s a question: Who would you rather be, Bill or Steve? Richest man in the world, or the guy who created the Apple computer, Pixar Studios, and iPod/iTunes? Here’s a more general question: Would you rather be the farmer or the explorer?”

Full article here.

Related article:
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal: ‘to take back the computer business from Microsoft’ – June 16, 2005


  1. Both of them are seriously flawed people. They are hard on those around them, egocentric, and getting older without ever growing up.

    Forced to make such a choice … Jobs, at least, is neither boring nor ethically bankrupt.

  2. C’mon Joell. The question is not whether you’d rather have $4b or $60b. With either of those amounts, you’ll never run out of money. I think that’s what the author is trying to get at: When you have enough money that you’ll never run out, which would be more important to you – more money, or being involved in something that is really cool?

  3. Pixar as we know it was not purchased– it was created largely after Steve Jobs bought it. He also wagered the majority of his personal fortune over many years before ever seeing a $ in profit. WHat Lucas started was the seed, but Pixar as a studio was the vision of Lassiter, Catmull & Jobs.

  4. Dauten writes: “Here’s a more general question: Would you rather be the farmer or the explorer?”

    I would change “the farmer” to “the strip miner”. Mining away people’s time and money resources without regard or any sense of consequences.

  5. philanthropy-

    How do you know what Jobs does on the side? He’s not parading around looking for a merit badge every other week. . . All the great robber baron/ bastards of history have donated huge sums while standing on the head of the common man- Carnegie, Rockafella, et al. They were looking to buy some sort of legacy, a better image for themselves. So folks remember how they founded some college, of bulit a library, but not how they crushed competition by any means available.

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