So great to reconnect all these years later! When I write these stories I wonder how good my recollection really is and it's great to talk with people who were really there to hear their perspectives. I always remembered how kind you and Andy were to us when it felt like we were desperately trying to keep the doors open.
I spent some time working with Steve's other disastrous failure — Pixar — and I'm dying to write about what changed in Steve as he went from near-certain bankruptcy of both companies to joining the pantheon of Ford and Edison. When I was at NeXT, I watched the other 8 original members that Steve had brought from Apple quit as they lost faith in him. My good friend and former boss, Joanna Hoffman, said she quit because NeXT was all about getting revenge on Scully.
Somewhere along the line, Steve was able to let the terrible way many of them quit go, like my boss at the time Mike Slade. Mike wrote a resignation letter to Steve listing three things Steve had to change to succeed. Two years later, Steve called Mike back, acknowledged he was right, and asked him to help him with Apple. Mike had the idea to build an audio player they named the iPod.
Steve ended up being a lifelong friend of Joanna's and made up with most of the people he once felt betrayed him. I think that was a big key to his turnaround.
What I imagine and have read, is that it was Ed Catmull who told Steve to just focus on great products and let the personal vendettas go. Maybe Andy helped too.
Some years later an extraordinary thing happened: a black man was elected president in America. A journalist asked him why his campaign didn't have the drama of McCain's and Hillary's even though they had more executive experience. His reply was it was his philosophy of focusing on the mission instead of personal grievance or personal ambition, because focusing on the mission was the best way to satisfy the other two.
I wonder if Ed told Steve something like that. 👆