The long piece on Steve Jobs on last night’s 60 Minutes was very interesting, in no small part because the message from 60 Minutes and Jobs’s authorized biographer Walter Isaacson was that Jobs was, a least in areas outside his family, a pretty stunning jerk. I don’t recall a single instance where Isaacson made the case that Jobs could be a nice guy. Instead, every anecdote was about how Jobs “could be” nasty, unfeeling, or arrogant. The thing about the phrase “could be” is that it implies a deviation from the behavioral norm. As in, so-and-so “could be gruff sometimes.” But the basic impression one gets from the show last night wasn’t that Steve Jobs “could be” a jerk some of the time, but that he was a jerk most of the time.
That’s an interesting insight in his success, but it doesn’t make me wish I knew the man.