Former Apple Employee Explains Why Lying to Steve Jobs Wasn’t an Option

Steve Jobs Holding Iphone 2007 Credit: ABC News
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Working at Apple under Steve Jobs was “sometimes unpleasant and always scary,” but former Apple employee Guy Kawasaki said it was worth every second.

Kawasaki severed two “tours of duty” at Apple — one was between 1983 and 1987 and the other between 1995 to 1997. He has also been an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, the author of 14 books, and a tech CEO himself.

But despite his many adventures in the tech industry, Kawasaki said that his time at the Cupertino tech giant was one of the most influential in his life.

“In many ways, I am who I am and where I am because of Steve Jobs and Apple,” Kawasaki said.

Recently, Kawasaki recounted one particular anecdote involving Steve Jobs to CNBC. One day in 1984, Kawasaki said that Jobs showed up at his cubicle with a man he didn’t know.

Jobs didn’t introduce the man, as Kawasaki notes that the Apple cofounder “wasn’t long on social niceties.” Instead, Jobs just asked him a simple question: “What do you think of a company called Knoware?”

Kawasaki said he had two choices: he could have given a safe and neutral answer to the question, or he could simply tell the truth — even if it was harsh.

“Most people who have taken a long pause before giving an answer,” he told CNBC. But he opted for the truth, telling Jobs that Knoware’s products were “mediocre, boring, and simplistic,” and that the firm didn’t take advantage of the Mac’s advanced hardware.

After he was done giving his answer, Jobs introduced the man he had brought. “I want you to meet the CEO of Knoware, Archie McGill,” Jobs said.

As Kawasaki shook McGill’s hand, Jobs reportedly told the Knoware CEO: “See? That’s what I told you.”

Kawasaki said that if had decided to play it safe, Jobs may have decided that he was “clueless” at best. At worst, he may have fired him that day — “if not on the spot.”

In the end, Kawasaki said employees working in the Macintosh Division had to prove themselves every day, or Jobs would get rid of them. The legendary Apple cofounder “demanded excellence” and kept his employees at the top of their game.

And yes, while Kawasaki said that it could have been unpleasant and scary, it drove many Apple employees to do the finest work of their careers.

“I wouldn’t trade working for him for any job I’ve ever had,” Kawasaki said. “And I don’t know anyone in the Macintosh Division who would.”

The former Apple employee also gave CNBC a few valuable lessons related to his stint at Cupertino and the anecdote he shared.

  1. Tell the truth.
  2. The wiser the person, the more they yearn for the truth.
  3. Honesty is not only better, it’s also easier than lying.
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