Steve Jobs and me: Fortune journalist reminisces

“Most of us who wrote in depth about the brilliant career of Steve Jobs sooner or later came to realize that we were complicit in the making of a modern myth,” Brent Schlender writes for Fortune. “You simply couldn’t avoid it. And while it is true that Jobs was as charismatic as Clooney and as manipulative as Machiavelli, the legend we helped him construct served many purposes beyond pumping up his own ego. He was an irresistible force who knew that in order to bring to market the amazing technological wonders that bubbled in his imagination, he also had to become the Svengali of the digital revolution that was to be the hallmark of his generation.”

“Nevertheless, Steve was merely mortal. And his storied life was one of dissonances and contradictions. He proudly flouted authority, yet he embodied extreme self-discipline,” Schlender writes. “He wouldn’t suffer fools, but that wouldn’t keep him from turning on the charm to woo a ‘bozo’ who had something he needed. He was the ultimate nano-manager, who also could limn the grand strokes of a big picture that others rarely could fully perceive without his help.”

Schlender writes, “While he never settled for anything but the extraordinary and dearly loved his Gulfstream jet, he led a curiously modest domestic life, especially after he had married and embraced fatherhood. He was intensely private, yet he hid in plain sight. He took his physical health far more seriously than most of us, yet his body utterly failed him. And the final irony is that when he died, by many measures he was at long last reaching his full stride. Yes, he had manipulated other people all along the way, sometimes callously. Likewise, we journalists exploited his fame and charisma whenever we could. But now that he’s gone, it’s plain to see that in the process of transforming all of our lives, Steve used himself up.”

Full article with many of Schlender’s personal photos of Jobs, how Schlender’s kids and Reed Jobs watched an early cut of Pixar’s Toy Story at Jobs’ house, and much more – highly recommended – here.


  1. A wonderful article about a wonderful man. He even had an excellent eye even when it came to design for his private jet which I consider the best in the world. How terribly sad I feel for his family and the unbearble heartbreak they must feel. On the flip side, his wife had a devoted husband, their children a devoted father. Yes, he left far too soon but what he left behind is priceless.

  2. Absolutely, positively, and without fail, read Brent
    Schlender’s full story. It is the best written personal account of Jobs and their friendship over several decades. It is very thought provoking and deeply personal. A MUST READ!

  3. Jobs was fanatic of products, not his own role in creation of products, he organized brainstorms to crack the problems both with his own and his employees effort. And he always used “we” in public even when he was the one person concretely doing something.

    I mean, of course, Jobs had ego — as anyone else, being real human — but I am not sure that he had problem with to the degree that it has sense to use this word explicitly as this article does.

  4. The use of word “Machiavellian” towards ways how Jobs have treated the media is also excessive, since Jobs’ tactics were always quite transparent.

    These tactics do not look anything like evil schemes (of Machiavelli), but rather make you smile since the used tricks are almost naive. I mean, no one could seriously go blind and suddenly not see how Jobs switches his charm on or off — it was always so obvious.

    1. Machiavellian doesn’t mean being evil, it means being a realist and completely pragmatic when it comes to using power, instead of operating with ideals that may be attractive but not effective. Machiavelli pointed out that kings must to “bad” things if they are to be able to achieve good things. Otherwise they will simply lose their grip on power and achieve nothing.

      Steve was Machiavellian in the best way – in his sometimes ruthless pursuit of power for the purpose of achieving something worthwhile.

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