The new biography of Steve Jobs is being rushed into print following the Apple founder's death and there are some interesting tidbits that have been released prior to publication that put a little different spin on Jobs and his beliefs.
Jobs, who was known for his prickly, stubborn personality, almost missed meeting President Obama in the fall of 2010 because he insisted that the president personally ask him for a meeting. Though his wife told him that Obama "was really psyched to meet with you," Jobs insisted on the personal invitation, and the standoff lasted for five days. When he finally relented and they met at the Westin San Francisco Airport, Jobs was characteristically blunt. He seemed to have transformed from a liberal into a conservative.
"You're headed for a one-term presidency," he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where "regulations and unnecessary costs" make it difficult for them.
Jobs also criticized America's education system, saying it was "crippled by union work rules," noted Isaacson. "Until the teachers' unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform." Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year.
Aiding Obama's Reelection Campaign
Jobs suggested that Obama meet six or seven other CEOs who could express the needs of innovative businesses -- but when White House aides added more names to the list, Jobs insisted that it was growing too big and that "he had no intention of coming." In preparation for the dinner, Jobs exhibited his notorious attention to detail, telling venture capitalist John Doerr that the menu of shrimp, cod and lentil salad was "far too fancy" and objecting to a chocolate truffle dessert. But he was overruled by the White House, which cited the president's fondness for cream pie.
Though Jobs was not that impressed by Obama, later telling Isaacson that his focus on the reasons that things can't get done "infuriates" him, they kept in touch and talked by phone a few more times. Jobs even offered to help create Obama's political ads for the 2012 campaign. "He had made the same offer in 2008, but he'd become annoyed when Obama's strategist David Axelrod wasn't totally deferential," writes Isaacson. Jobs later told the author that he wanted to do for Obama what the legendary "morning in America" ads did for Ronald Reagan.
Jobs was no fool, and despite the fact that he was a liberal, he recognized what needed to be done to improve the business climate in America. He also pegged Obama correctly as someone who promoted anti-business policies and regulations.
It comes as no surprise that Obama refused to listen to a successful businessman, preferring instead the advice given by ivory tower academics who never met a payroll in their lives.