Former Apple CEO John Sculley reveals the skill that made Steve Jobs a brilliant leader

“As he’s the co-founder of Apple and the visionary behind some of the world’s leading personal computing innovations, few would question the late Steve Jobs’ expertise,” Karen Gilchrist reports for CNBC. “But it was a rather more common interpersonal skill that turned him into a “brilliant” business leader, according to former Apple CEO John Sculley.”

“That skill? The ability to listen,” Gilchrist reports. “Sculley, who served as Apple’s CEO for a decade from 1983 to 1993, told CNBC Make It that ability did not come naturally to Jobs. Rather, it took 12 years and a contentious departure from Apple to hone it.”

“When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 following the purchase of NeXT, he was a “different person,” said Sculley, who previously led Pepsi,” Gilchrist reports. “‘Steve was brilliant in terms of seeing where the world would be 20 years in the future. He was so charismatic that he convinced himself, as much as he convinced other people, that he was always right,’ Sculley said of Jobs 1.0. ‘But young Steve Jobs was not as good at listening as the Steve Jobs that came back years later,’ he continued, noting that it opened him up to new ways of thinking.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ah, the tedious, unprepared sugared water sales bozo is always good for a sigh.

Related articles:
Ex-Apple CEO Sculley: Tim Cook got Wall Street to fall in love with what Steve Jobs built – August 3, 2018
Former Apple CEO John Sculley: What I learned from Steve Jobs – May 29, 2018
John Sculley: Apple TV will be the company’s most revolutionary product (as if he knows anything) – September 1, 2015
John Sculley: Forcing Steve Jobs out of Apple was a mistake – April 18, 2014
Failed Apple CEO John Sculley: If I were Samsung, I would tap Ron Johnson – April 10, 2013
If John Sculley says Apple must do this then Apple probably shouldn’t – January 17, 2013
Former Apple CEO Sculley gives his take on Steve Jobs – January 13, 2012
John Sculley: I wish I told Steve Jobs ‘This is your company, let’s figure out how you can come back and be CEO’ – Septemeber 13, 2011
Steve Jobs steps down the first time: The 1985 press coverage – August 26, 2011
John Sculley: Apple’s big mistake was hiring me as CEO – October 14, 2010
Sculley: Uh, maybe I shouldn’t have fired Steve Jobs – June 7, 2010


  1. MDN, normally very prescient, has some blind spots. Sculley is probably right about Jobs being very different when he came back. He went through a major life changing experience and he was a very smart man. It is foolish to think the firing from Apple, which was not just done by Sculley, was an event that made him introspective and most likely improved him in some way.

    1. Keen insight, kent! The flippant MDN responses can be funny. But it is unwise to disregard everything that arises from a particular source. The trick is to pick out the nuggets of value.

      There is no doubt in my mind that Steve evolved from the mid-1980s through his Next and Pixar days and his return as iCEO of Apple.

      1. the situation reminds me a bit of Tiger Woods, but without the same moral failings. Woods was without doubt the best golfer in recent times, or maybe all time. He fell hard and fast, mostly due to personal failings but also physical problems that were severe. He was “in the desert” a long time. Most figured he would never come back. But he did and now he is near the top again with much great golf to play. There is no doubt his fall from grace strengthened him and made him face internal shortcomings that he would never have addressed but for the fall. He came back a better person. I think Jobs did as well.

        I truly believe Steve Jobs is the finest example of American entrepreneurial achievement ever. We have had many – Henry Ford, Edison, Howard Hughes. Steve Jobs is right at the top with all of these. I admire him so much.

  2. More likely Jobs 2.0 learned how to NOT listen to idiots like Sculley.

    Considering what happened to Jobs and Sculley after 1993, it is highly unlikely that Sculley ever got close enough physically to Jobs to even determine how Jobs changed after such things as raising capital, running NEXT/Pixar and getting married. Sculley was blatantly blow smoke from his behind in that interview. I would have called him out by simply saying “how would you know?”

  3. Steve came up with the Apple II and Macintosh prior to his forced departure. He was doubtless a different person 12 years later – we all are. But that does not mean that he had to have endured that exile in order to have lead Apple to the heights it achieved post-1997.

    1. I suppose that depends on your perspective, but I would say Sculley. Why? Because the Sculley hire led to the firing of Jobs, whereas the Browett hire was fixed by firing him. Cook was relatively unaffected.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.