Jobs knew the perfect answer

Steve JobsNow that we live in an age of trolls, every leader needs to handle insults. It’s something Apple’s Steve Jobs demonstrated 20 years ago.

“Mr. Jobs, you’re a bright and influential man,” his troll began. “It’s sad and clear that on several counts you’ve discussed, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I would like, for example, for you to express in clear terms how, say, Java in any of its incarnations addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDoc. And when you’re finished with that, perhaps you can tell us what you personally have been doing for the last seven years.”

How Jobs replied is a marvel.

He pauses. He sits in silence and thinks for an eternity (about 11 seconds), sipping water. “You know, you can please some of the people some of the time … ” Another pause, for about eight seconds.

He agrees. “One of the hardest things when you’re trying to effect change is that people like this gentleman are right!” By finding common ground, he shows the question is reasonable.

He presents the big picture. Jobs talks about how the software fits into a larger vision, saying “one of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”

He admits his mistake. “I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room.”

He praises his people. “There are a whole lot of people working super, super hard right now at Apple,” Jobs exclaims.

He ends optimistically. Mistakes will be made, found and fixed, he says. Then he finishes, “but I think it is so much better than where things were … and I think we’re going to get there.” He was right about that, too.

— Adapted from “Exactly 20 years ago, Steve Jobs showed us how to respond to insult,” JKR Staff, Janta Ka Reporter.