Steve Jobs: The Greatest Story Ever Told

by Ryan Babikian

“Just tell them if they fuck with us, they’ll never get another fucking dime from this company, ever.” Those are the immortal words of the late Steve Jobs, who, through his accomplishments, vision, and leadership style, provides invaluable lessons for every ambitious entrepreneur of Generation-Y.

This post is unlike most Elite Daily articles. We have collected several of the greatest stories found in Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, coupled with a breakdown of Jobs as pioneer. From his return to Apple after being tossed out of the boardroom in a traitorous mutiny, to some of the most memorable lessons ever given by the man, here is Steve Jobs brought to you by Elite Daily:

To many, the greatest Steve Jobs story ever told would make most people shit their pants at the first thought of entering the painstaking and high-risk world of entrepreneurship.But to the Elite few, this only serves as motivation and mentorship for that trailblazing and moneymaking ventures that are being built at this very moment.

Soon after Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO in 1997, he decided that a shipping company wasn’t delivering spare parts fast enough. The shipper said it couldn’t do better, and it didn’t have to: Apple had signed a contract granting it the business at the current pace. As Walter Isaacson describes in his best-selling biography, Steve Jobs, the recently recrowned chief executive had a simple response: break the contract.

When an Apple manager warned him that this decision would probably mean a lawsuit, Jobs responded:

Just tell them if they fuck with us, they’ll never get another fucking dime from this company, ever.

The shipper did sue. The manager quit Apple. (Jobs “would have fired me anyway,” he later told Isaacson.) The legal imbroglio took a year and presumably a significant amount of money to resolve. But meanwhile, Apple hired a new shipper that met the expectations of the company’s uncompromising CEO.

What is the lesson here?  Violate any norm of social or business interaction that stands between you and what you want. Jobs routinely told subordinates that they were assholes, that they never did anything right. According to Isaacson, even one of Apple's top executives got dumped on. Once, after checking into a five-star London hotel handpicked for him by Ive, Jobs called it “a piece of shit” and stormed out.

The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don’t apply to him.

Job's story is a holy scripture for entrepreneurs — a simultaneous gospel and antigospel. To some, he is an idol. But to others, Jobs serves as a cautionary tale – a man who changed the world at the price of alienating almost everyone around him. This brings about the real dilemma: we want to succeed and “put a dent in the universe,"  but we also want to hold onto the things entrepreneurship makes us sacrifice. Is it worth it to be Jobs?

On one side of this debate are what you might call the acolytes. They’re entrepreneurs who have taken the life of Steve Jobs as license to become more aggressive as visionaries, competitors and, above all, as bosses. They’re giving themselves over to the thrill of being a general – perhaps, at times, even a dictator.

Work was already the center of their lives, but Jobs’ story has made them resolve to double down on that choice. The gospel of Steve Jobs has spread far from Silicon Valley, inspiring people in every field of business.

Steve Davis, CEO of TwoFour, a software company that caters to financial institutions, is among this group, especially in regards to the intensity and uncertainty of entrepreneurship. Davis loved every minute of it. He didn’t operate with a corporate safety net. To Davis, the thrill came from the possibility that he might be wrong. “Guys who start companies are different from other people,” he said.

We’re willing to fail. Look at Jobs. He got knocked down, and he kept going. He’s totally unconventional, driving on his particular path, and either you join him or get out of the way.

Join or get out of the way — it’s a phrase that sums up what Jobs’ life has taught his admirers today. Andrew Hargadon, author of How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate, provides his takeaways from Jobs:

Jobs is showing us the value in the old-school, autocratic way. We’ve gone so far toward the other extreme, toward a bovine sociology in which happy cows are supposed to produce more milk. That is, it took a hippie-geek like Jobs to give other bosses permission to be aggressive and domineering again.

This isn’t aggression for its own sake but for the good of a company. Tristan O’Tierney, who advised Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey, says that he now sees the value in bluntly telling people that their work is crap. “You don’t make better products by saying everything is great,” he explains. “You make them better by forcing people to do work they didn’t know they had in them.”

So how will you apply the invaluable lessons from  Steve Jobs' life and legacy to your pursuit of success?