Working for Steve Jobs wasn’t easy or pleasant—but it made me smarter

“Working for Steve Jobs wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pleasant.”
“Working for Steve Jobs wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pleasant.”
Image: Reuters/Robert Galbraith
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This question originally appeared on Quora: What is your most memorable experience working with Steve Jobs? Answer by Guy Kawasaki, former engineer at Apple.

One day Steve Jobs showed up in my cubicle with a man that I didn’t know. He didn’t bother to introduce him; instead, he asked, “What do you think of a company called Knoware?”

I told him that the company’s products were mediocre, boring, and simplistic—nothing that was strategic for Macintosh. The company didn’t matter to us. After my diatribe, he said to me, “I want you to meet the CEO of Knoware, Archie McGill.”

Thanks, Steve.

Here’s the kicker: I passed the Steve Jobs IQ test. If I had said nice things about crappy software, Steve would have concluded that I was clueless and that was a career-limiting or ending move.

Working for Steve Jobs wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pleasant. He demanded excellence and kept you at the top of your game—or you were gone. I wouldn’t trade my experience working for him for any job I’ve ever had.

This experience taught me that you should tell the truth and worry less about the consequences for three reasons:

  1. Telling the truth is a test of your character and intelligence. You need strength to tell the truth and intelligence to recognize what is true.
  2. People yearn for the truth, so telling people that their product is good just to be positive doesn’t help them improve it.
  3. There’s only one truth, so it’s easier to be consistent if you’re honest. If you are dishonest, you have to keep track of what you said.