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    • He did. We learned from the creative process Pixar uses: iteration in front of people who can shape it by adding constructive feedback. We held high level slide and demo reviews in the town hall facility with people from each group that would be affected by the presentation. These would happen usually a week or two before the event and rehearsals onsite.

    • Steve was incredibly demanding when I was at NeXT and a lot of people didn’t last. How did you make it 20 years?

    • I know that I quit 3 times, one kind of officially via email to HR. God only knows how many times I was actually yelled at and fired but it never went anywhere. Essentially I never really wanted to leave so I didn’t.

    • That’s insane. I read an interview of Andy Cunningham who said, “I loved working for Steve Jobs even though he fired me 5 times.” What do you mean it never went anywhere?

    • One afternoon he told me, “God dammit, Wayne. I want you to fucking go home right now and tell me why I shouldn’t fire you tomorrow.” So I went home that night and I probably worked on 15 or 16 versions of an email trying to explain everything. But then I just decided to say “Steve, you know how I feel, but you’re the boss. You let me know tomorrow whether I’m fired or not.” I never heard another word about it.

      The mythology of him mostly comes from individuals that didn't survive around him. The people who got close knew the rules, knew how to work with him, knew his core desires and what he was trying to achieve. They never really had problems with it.  

      Someone told me early on that if you do something great, you just have to acknowledge it yourself because you’re not going to get it from him except on a rare occasion. A lot of people who weren’t used to that would come in to present their product plan or whatever, and they would be seeking to make themselves look good and get praise from Steve. If he got a whiff of that, he would rip you down a peg. 

      He was usually right because the person usually didn’t do a great job. Those are the ones who flamed out and then had the horrible things to say because they couldn’t admit to themselves that they couldn’t cut the mustard.

      He was a complex individual but he always desired the best out of everybody. He was ultimately very caring. He had his own relationship with my daughter from the age of 4 years old and let her come to rehearsals and events. He even asked her opinion a few times when the team couldn’t decide between particular graphics to use.

    • When we launched the Lifesaver iMacs (the color ones), Steph Adams [Owner of Adams & Asscociates—the outside production company for Apple] and I were trying to bring them out from behind the screen and raise them up out of their pedestals. A week before the event and we were still struggling to synchronize them and make the motion smooth. This was before computer-controlled movement machinery was readily available.

      After mentioning this to Steve, he literally says, “I know the guys from Cirque du Soleil, why don’t you call them?” With one week left, we couldn’t do that so we stuck with our way. It was a hand-crank thing. When you looked at it close, it was really bad. But when you were in the audience, you couldn’t tell unless you knew what to look for. However, Steve was on the stage watching these things not perfectly aligned with a little bit of stuttering. He wasn’t happy and we could see it in the video feed we were watching.

      The show went off, no one ever noticed or mentioned it in the press, but yet he noticed. He pulled me and Steph aside. There were people all around so he didn’t scream or yell at us. It was one of those “I’m really disappointed. At any other time I’d probably fire you.” For ten minutes he went on and on. We looked at each other and just melted into the floor.

      But we came back the next show having done our research. We now had the beginnings of our computer-controlled systems. We could bring things from the back of the stage, under the stage, or out of a cabinet—and twirl them as they emerged. Cirque du Soleil couldn’t do it better than we did it.

      As I look back, if we had not been berated so much, we wouldn’t have seen that these were amazing products and they could have been launched so much better.

    • That’s the thing most executives don’t get. We never wrote a script. The preview monitor was just the next slide coming up. The Keynote development, the slide sequencing, the simplifying and honing were all part of his method for being as empathetic, emotive, charismatic and precise as he was on stage. It came from time spent working on the story with his slides, then rehearsing and rehearsing and rehearsing. Not from a script.

      It was just part of him. There is a dichotomy in the world about the mythology surrounding him. A big part of his legacy comes from what people saw of him on stage. He was at his absolute best then. He was putting 110% of himself into it because he didn’t want to let the rest of the company down. He was introducing his creations to the world, they were like his children. Steve had an immediate trust factor with the audience because he was so bare and open at those moments in time.

      After each show he would come to the back of the stage and ask Steph and I to grade him. And we would say it was a B, or B- or solid A. He really wanted to know how he did so if not great, he/we could do better next time. If you watch different keynotes, you can see that he had different emotional ramps depending on whether it was a product he was totally into or not.

    • I don’t think so in business. I would get calls asking “Can you help us do a keynote like Steve?” (which we affectionately called Stevenotes). But they always had the expectation that I would write a script and build the slides in their entirety. They had no understanding of what it really took to master this medium. 

    • Something hit me during the memorial at Stanford when I was among the 400 or so close friends and colleagues he had worked with. Each of them had ten or maybe a hundred stories to tell about Steve. If that’s not a testament to someone’s character, then what is? That’s how you know someone left a mark, made a difference, changed things. I got goosebumps when I thought about that.

      I thought that I should write many of my stories, events and moments that I shared with Steve in some form that others might enjoy. I’ve told many of these stories to friends in person and they usually say, “you should write a book!”. So I’m working on one.

      There’s a lot of information out there from journalists or impressions from his presentations. But stories from people who worked closely with him for decades fill in the painting, as you mentioned earlier Chris, of who he really was. 

    • Public offering presentations are usually filled with slides of financial metrics and not much else. Steve wanted to tell Pixar’s unique story and not just conform to the norm. So I created two sets of roadshow cases, including the best 36” Sony Trinitron TVs we could buy in 1995. We brought a Hi-8 video deck for Toy Story movie clips and ThinkPads running Concurrence on OpenStep for the presentation. I had these cases shipping all over the country. Sometimes we loaded them on the plane that we took from presentation to presentation. 

      Steve explained how they developed stories. Pixar would work tirelessly on the storyboards before any 3D graphics were ever created, essentially making the movie before making the movie. At scheduled times they would take those storyboards down to Disney for feedback. Disney was funding Toy Story, after all, and was also the gold standard in animation. So, the top brass at Disney would screen these story reels and give notes to Pixar. At that point, you would think that the Pixar team would bring the Disney notes back to their teeny company and implement the suggestions. But that was never ever the case.

      What the notes told them was where the problems were in the narrative. John and his team had the confidence in their artistic vision. So they trusted that confidence in themselves to enact the fixes not just implement the Disney feedback.

      This is was how Steve also used those working for him to help him craft the best products Apple launches. 

    • I had the feeling in my time with Steve that he was possessed with perfection. Little details no one else noticed made him crazy

    • He was possessed with perfection to a point. Some of the most gratifying moments for me were when I’d notice (once viewing on the 36 foot screens) a single pixel I could l still fix on an image. When he’d say, “Wayne, you’re the only one who’ll ever notice.” Then I knew I was done with that image.

      Here’s another example as it related to a product: 

      During iPad launch preparation, we were struggling to get the iPad “beauty shots” to look like Steve imagined they should look. We’d had multiple photo shoots and teams working literally to get one or two insanely great images of the iPad. He wanted a beauty shot with a clean edge and the Apple logo visible the right side up. The problem was this was not possible without seeing the long side iPad 30-pin connector. You may ask, there’s only one on the short side. At that point there were two, one on each side. That way you could dock it in landscape or portrait orientation.

      I had thought he was satisfied with the beauty shots delivered since we’d moved on in the slide deck. But one night close to the keynote date, he decided he wasn’t happy with those beauty shots of the iPad. I was tired and knew that there was no way to make them any better.

      So, that evening before shutting down for the night, I photoshopped out the port on the long side on a few of the shots and sent them off to him. I figured he’d see them in the morning and we’d have a good laugh about it. Instead he almost immediately called me as said, “These are exactly what I was looking for… oh you didn’t?” To which I replied, “I did” and the phone went click. 

      There was no way to get a beauty shot that Steve would accept with that port on the side, so the iPad shipped without it. It also simplified the presentation, which he liked.

    • Yeah, whenever he called me Mitch. The guy who did the job before I came back at NeXT was Mitch Green. Thus after my return, Steve kept calling me Mitch every damn time he needed something. Even in front of other people. So I started calling him Betty when he did it. He would just look at me weird at first, but finally he got it and said (in jest… maybe) “if you ever decide you want to change your name, just change it to Mitch. It’ll be easier for me.”

      After that I thought, I swear to God, if he calls me Mitch five more times I am going to quit. I counted and he only did it four more times.

    • Imagine if he did it a fifth time and you followed through. No more eyewitness to a life so extraordinary.