Steve Jobs: Peacocks, Pixar and how he hired Tim Cook

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away nearly eight months ago, but the dents he left in the tech universe are very clear.

Attendees at the annual tech confab All Things Digital took time Wednesday to talk about Jobs’s legacy and share personal stories about the technology icon.

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One gem: Larry Ellison, the chief executive of Oracle, met Jobs because of a peacock.

Ellison was Jobs’s neighbor in Woodside, Calif., and Jobs’s pet bird came into Ellison’s yard one day and woke him up. Ellison went to complain to his neighbor, the San Jose Mercury News reported, and found out that Jobs wasn’t crazy about his pet, either. The bird had been a gift to Apple’s chief executive from his girlfriend.

Jobs told Ellison that the neighborly confrontation was just the excuse he needed to get rid of the bird.

“He said, ‘I’m going to tell her that you complained so much about the bird [and] we had to get rid of it,’” Ellison said, according to the report.

Ellison and Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, also discussed what it was like to work with Jobs.

Catmull said that Jobs was very hands-off at Pixar, contrary to his reputation as a micromanager. Jobs never took part in a story meeting at the studio, Catmull said, because he trusted others to “know things he didn’t,” the report said.

Even so, Catmull said that Jobs was a “master storyteller” that made him a persuasive figure — though he often wanted people to push back on his ideas. Jobs wanted the best idea to win, Catmull said, and was willing to listen and change his point of view.

“He really would flip,” Catmull said. “He wanted somebody to argue back. He didn’t respect somebody if they didn’t have a point of view and push it hard.”

Those trying to emulate Jobs’s success, the men said, should look to his driving obsession with perfection and his ability to look at problems holistically. But duplicating Jobs just isn’t possible, Ellison said.

“To model yourself after Steve Jobs is like, ‘I’d like to paint like Picasso, what should I do? Should I use more red?’”

Apple chief executive Tim Cook, of course, told his own stories about Jobs in his Tuesday discussion at the show. One was about how Jobs hired him away from Compaq.

According to Bloomberg, Cook said that he had ignored several recruiters from Apple before agreeing to meet with Jobs. After the meeting, he told Compaq he wanted to resign immediately.

“Five minutes into the conversation, I wanted to join Apple,” Cook said. “He painted a story, a strategy, that he was taking Apple deep into consumer at a time when I knew that other people were doing the exact opposite. And I’ve never thought following the herd was a good strategy.”

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