Bill Gates may have relied on his own demanding work ethic to turn Microsoft into the software powerhouse that it became, but in regard to Apple, Gates said that Steve Jobs found success in part by “casting spells.”
In an interview Sunday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” Gates was asked by the host about leadership rules and principles. If there was a list of 10 things you must do to run a company successfully, Zakaria said Jobs would have violated the vast majority in the way he ran Apple.
“Steve … [is] a good example of ‘don’t do this at home,'” Gates said in the interview, which starts at the 31:00 mark here.
The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, who admitted to his own tough traits at the helm of the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant, said it would be really easy to imitate the bad parts of Jobs. And while he was an “ass****” at times,” Gates said Jobs, who died in 2011, “brought some incredibly positive things, along with that toughness.”
But Jobs was also unlike any person Gates had ever met in terms of picking talent, “hyper-motivating” that talent and having a sense for what was good and not good design.
“I always said that I was like a minor wizard,” Gates said. “[Jobs] would be casting spells and people would be mesmerized, and because I’m a minor wizard the spells don’t work on me. I could not cast those spells, but I’d see them and I would say, ‘Hey, wait! Don’t, don’t! You’re going to work even more than I would ask you to. This is crazy.'”
Gates referenced the introduction and failure of the NeXT computer in 1988, calling it “such nonsense … and yet [Jobs] mesmerized those people. … I was like, ‘Wait a minute, that spell should not work at all. It doesn’t have any reality to it.'”
Apple “was on a path to die,” Gates said, and yet it went on to become the most valuable company in the world with amazing products.
“Steve is a very singular case. There aren’t going to be many stories like that,” Gates said.