Jun 11

Steve Jobs’ alter ego

Just one day after superhero Steve Jobs appeared onstage at WWDC 2011, his humbler alter ego appeared before the Cupertino City Council.

Watch this 21-minute video and you’ll see what I mean.

This is a quieter Steve than the one you’re used to, with his distortion field dialed way down. That’s because this is one of those rare occasions when Steve actually needs the approval of someone else. He needs the Council to bless the plans for Apple’s new home.

Of course, there’s no doubt he’ll get what he wants. Cupertino can’t possibly say no. They would never, ever give up the prestige, jobs and tax revenue that comes with keeping Apple within the city limits.

It’s just that until the official vote is actually taken, Steve must follow protocol.

Not that he’s a pushover. As you’ll see in the video, he beautifully shuts down any suggestion that Apple will perform tricks to get the needed approval — like blanket the kingdom of Cupertino with free wi-fi. And he slams the door on any possibility that Cupertino will ever see its own Apple Store.

In fact, there’s a bit of The Godfather in him here. He may be quieter, but you get the feeling you’ll be safer if you don’t refuse his offer. He pulls his jacket open just enough to show he’s carrying the “I can always move to Mountain View” grenade.

But this is the diplomatic side of a man not known for his diplomatic side.

It’s easy for Steve to assume this role, because he owns the room from the moment he appears. The Council members act like they’re in the presence of royalty. At one point, the Mayor actually pulls out his iPad to show Steve he’s a believer.

But that’s all the fun stuff. Far more important — the new Apple HQ plan is breathtaking.

Not surprisingly, it perfectly reflects Apple’s values. No doubt Steve will invest far more in this site than most companies would ever dream of spending. And no doubt Apple will reap benefits far and above what most would accomplish by putting up a new structure.

To Steve, designing and building his new company home is no different than designing and building an Apple product.

It’s not worth doing unless it redefines the standard. He’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

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  • Tom B

    No doubt MSFT will have a new building designed, too, only there’s will come out looking like a biplane.

  • Steve’s mix between the heartwarmingly anecdotal (the story about calling Bill Hewitt) and the boldly visionary is his secret sauce. Here’s a guy who’s changed the world 4 or 5 (or 50) times over, yet works 5 minutes from where he grew up. There’s always a human connection with Steve.

    I first saw him speak when I was a senior at Stanford in 1982, and I’ve been a fervent admirer ever since. I can honestly say its the first time I’ve ever recommended a video of a city council meeting to colleagues.

    I’ve been learning from him for 30 years. I hope to learn for 30 more….

  • ken segall

    I agree with you 100%. This is why I marvel how Steve’s detractors portray him as some calculating evil character bent on world domination. He cares about the things he cares about because of his humanity.

  • Bill

    And his detractors are people with no humanity, no ability, no courage and no convictions… and that’s why they try to tear steve and apple down.

    When I look at this video, I look at a guy, going before a group criminals, hoping that they won’t use violence to stop him from making their community a better place. And the first word out of a criminals mouth after he shows them how he’s going to give them essentially everything similar criminals have demanded from others (more trees, underground parking, more income from taxes, less use of the electricity grid) is the sneering demand “what else will you do for me?” Of course these criminals, like all villainous scum, pretend like their victims aren’t victims and their criminality is just…

    but you can see the greed in that criminals eyes.

    They should be on their knees offering him anything he wants… not greedily wishing for more.

    Just shows, when you give into criminals, they don’t respect you.

    Steve Jobs has done more for cupertino than all of those professional criminals combined…let alone for the rest of the world. Unlike them, the world is a better place for his having lived in it.

    They aren’t worthy to lick the soles of his shoes!

  • Loved how he handled all those questions, at his level. Steve looks like he’s lost a ton of weight though. Hope he gets better!

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