On Deadline: When Steve Jobs showed he had some social skills | Off Deadline | Jay Thorwaldson | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

Off Deadline

By Jay Thorwaldson

About this blog: I was editor of the Palo Alto Weekly from June 2000 to January 2011, capping a more than 50-year career in journalism and writing since Los Gatos High School, where I was editor of the student newspaper and president of the speech...  (More)

View all posts from Jay Thorwaldson

On Deadline: When Steve Jobs showed he had some social skills

Uploaded: Oct 27, 2011
This blog is not primarily about Steve Jobs. He is mentioned in passing.
It is mainly about a longtime Palo Altan, Carolyn Caddes, a retired portrait-quality photographer and photojournalist who a quarter century ago put together a remarkable book: "Portraits of Success -- Impressions of Silicon Valley Pioneers."
The large, coffee-table-quality publication featured 57 individuals who turned the once-bucolic Santa Clara Valley into the dynamic economic engine that almost literally turned sand into gold.
Caddes, originally from West Virginia, was able through vision, determination and charm to win the cooperation of such luminaries as David Packard, William Hewlett and the 55 others -- some known mostly by Silicon Valley insiders.
She took portraits, conducted detailed interviews and wrote up smoothly flowing nutshells of the person's life and contributions -- with the help of another Palo Altan, Barbara Newton.
Jobs was one of those featured <0x2014> in the mid-1980s, not terribly long after he had been fired by Apple Computer in 1983 in favor of the ultimately disastrous decade of leadership of CEO John Sculley.
Caddes disclosed that Jobs was notoriously difficult, to the point that she even considered leaving a blank page where his photo and interview would have gone.
In June 2009 Caddes shared stories of how she put together the book at the Palo Alto Historical Association's annual meeting, breaking attendance records while bravely conquering a lifelong aversion to public speaking.
Jobs was the hardest to get, she recounted. He had a deep aversion to being interviewed by "the press" and a virtually secret private life -- at least prior to the publication this week of his revealing biography.
He also had highly protective people around him, who responded defensively, even rudely, to Caddes' inquiries, she recalled.
But she finally landed the interview and photo session at Jobs' home, only after an intense half-hour interview of her by Jobs.
The outcome speaks for itself in the now out-of-print book, available in libraries and for sale online.
Years later, in 1997, Caddes had another contact with Jobs that showed a softer, more trusting and interactive side.
She outlined the encounter in a personal note to her mother and family dated Nov. 5, 1997, and sent a copy to Jobs -- made public here for the first time.
It turns out that Jobs had earlier asked for a print of a photo Caddes took of another Silicon Valley pioneer, the late Robert "Bob" Noyce, who co-invented the integrated circuit that made modern computers possible. But, alas, when she tried to retrieve the negative from Stanford University archives it could not be found. Instead, she sadly provided Jobs gratis with a "reprint of a reprint."
Then in 1997 after a change of residence she found an original photo of Noyce she had printed and matted in 1983 to share at an Ansel Adams workshop.
"So, in a moment of high self-esteem, I called Steve," she recalled in the note to her family, which she has kept confidential since in respect for Jobs' penchant for privacy. "His assistant said he was very interested.
"Then I began to contemplate selling my final Robert Noyce photograph to THE Steve Jobs, a man who had not been easy to deal with in 1985 and '86.
"Privately, I became quite cocky about this whole scene and wondered if this man deserved the picture. (I hadn't even considered price)," she wrote.
She contacted Noyce's wife, Ann Bowers, and asked her opinion. Bowers said if Jobs didn't want it she would buy it and donate it to Grinnell College or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Unsure what to do, she let several months pass. She had not charged Intel for the 4- by 5-foot photo of Noyce hanging in the lobby of Intel's Robert Noyce Building.
"I had felt it was improper, perhaps immoral of me, to get money for any of my photographs of someone nice who had died."
But friends, and Intel officials, "convinced me that was naïve, lacking in business savvy, downright silly and belittling to both my photography and my profession," she recounted. Thinking of the new roof she and her husband, Robin, needed for their Eichler home, came up with a price of $10,000.
Jobs wanted to see the picture, and Caddes raced to get it framed and boxed for an appointment two days later. She was greeted pleasantly by Jobs' assistant, Andrea Nordeman, who was "much different from the people Steve had surrounded himself with when we were all working on THE book in the '80s."
Jobs emerged from an Apple board meeting and she greeted him with: "Hi. New beard. Good looking."
"Thanks," he replied. "And Stanford lost the negative? That's sh----!"
As she unwrapped the photo Caddes confessed to being nervous due to it being her last print of Noyce, "such a highly respected human being and a major role model in Silicon Valley."
"But this is like Christmas," Jobs said, as he confirmed that she had personally printed the image on acid-free paper.
"Finally, he said, 'Bob was a great man. I want it.' I said, 'You do?' He said, 'I'll take it. I'll be honored to buy it from you.' ('Honored?' Good grief! The NEW Steve Jobs had learned some social skills, even some flattery!)
"Without thinking, I laughed out loud, leaned over and gave him a peck on his cheek, saying, 'You're lucky!' He laughed and asked, 'Plus tax?'" He thanked her, "and I blurted out, 'You can give it to MIT when you die.'
"I think he smiled as he stepped into his office holding the framed picture and still looking at it."
There's no word yet on whether MIT will inherit the Noyce portrait, though.
NOTE: Former Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson can be e-mailed at jthorwaldson@paweekly.com and jaythor@well.com.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by HawkeyePierce, a resident of ,
on Oct 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm

How sad that Jobs treating someone well is news.

Posted by Garen, a resident of ,
on Oct 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Leo Duroscher said, "Nice guys finsih last" . Steve Jobs was not a nice guy, but he finished first. Just leave it at that. There is no need to make him a teddy bear. He was what he was...and he could probably care less about being loved by the sensitive crowds.

Posted by HawkeyePierce, a resident of ,
on Oct 27, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Finished is right - since he is now deceased.

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Oct 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I was always taught if you can't say something nice about someone, then don't say anything at all.

This is a nice story, thanks.

Posted by HawkeyePierce, a resident of ,
on Oct 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Well, Resident, you wouldn't have lasted under Steve, that's for sure.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of ,
on Oct 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Bill Gates spent $ 1.75 Billion of his own money and took a hands on leadership to develop a vaccine for malaria.

He has succeeded in developing a vaccine for malaria that works and will save millions of child and adult lives and increase productivity in Africa, Asia and S America.

Jobs bought a photograph--very nice

Jobs ran a cult that produced very expensive pretty toys that have built in obsolescence -- 18 to 24 months max.

These expensive pretty Apple toys were built by sweat shop cruel labor in China.

Jobs made a lot of money for himself--well done

He was a legend in his own mind

Posted by HawkeyePierce, a resident of ,
on Oct 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Sharon would be wise to research her tech giant favorites to see where they do their manufacturing and what the conditions are for the workers. Jobs wasn't the only one who had products made in China.

This editorial is merely a fluff piece. It's a lot more fun to read about Steve's snarky, nasty behavior, but there were plenty of times that he was nice to people. It's just sad that it makes the news when the niceness was banal, not important.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of ,
on Oct 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm

When Nikes horrendous China manufacturing conditions were made public they imposed new standards.

When Jobs was told about the suicides and crippling conditions in his Apple China factories--

He said " Love cannot buy you money"

His moto and epitaph

Posted by Anon., a resident of ,
on Oct 28, 2011 at 1:13 am

Why is it that so very often successful people are real SOBs?
Maybe because they are so focused on one thing they have no
time to really understand the world, and yet they have the money
and the power to transform it - and mostly in ways that make no
sense and just cause problems.

Steve Jobs was brilliant, lucky, aggressive. I am pretty happy that
I never worked with or for him the more I read about him. There
is so much science now that says stress and belittling people can
really affect their health and happiness, and 60 Minutes interview
about Jobs shows that he was not much different in terms of style
than any one of thousands of terrible bosses - but he got very rich
and famous, and lots of people who worked with him did as well,
so there is some magic about that that allows us in public mode to
just forget or forgive.

Beauty is not truth. Beautiful engineering is just that, something
wonderful to behold and use ... it is inspiring and fun, and Steve
Jobs added his share of that to the world - he showed us how it
is done - with style. So did Werner Von Braun. So did Alfred

Giving these people more power than they deserve is a clear
logical error in human society. The one major decision that Jobs
made that I am very sad about, for his sake, was not to get
operated on in time years ago. I am sorry for him and for his family
that he made that decision, but it is a very telling incident about
such people that we idolize and idealize, they are just images
in our own minds, our own fantasies, and can be very very
wrong. We see it so often, over and over, and yet we human
beings just keep making the same mistakes. In their delusion,
the same delusions we all have, they can take themselves and
many other down if we are all not careful.

The more we could remove this ability of people to abuse,
bully, be rude to, the better all of us would be - all of us.
Being a genius, being rich, being the head of corporation,
being older, being better looking, does not entitle anyone
to dehumanize another person, and yes we all do it, assuming
we can, at some point.

If we could stop or lower that characteristic in people I think
we would find that we could produce a lot of Steve Jobs'es,
maybe even enough to push technology forward sufficiently
to solve our problems and sustain the human race in the
face of our many mistakes.

Posted by J Austin, a resident of ,
on Oct 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I imagine life among the titans of Silicon Valley is something liek this:

MS WHITMAN The most beautiful thing in the world is a match well made, and a happy merger to you both.

MS FIORINA Oh, thank you Meg. Your campaigning grows more accomplished every day.

MS WHITMAN You are very kind, but it would be all the better if I had practiced my curtsies more, as you urged me.

MR ELLISON I should never take sides against you, Ms Whitman, but your friend is right. It is indeed a job well done.

MS WHITMAN The job well done, Mr Ellison was yours in performing the ceremony.

MR HURD Must the church be so drafty, Mr Ellison? It is very difficult to surrender the soul when one is worried about one's throat.

MR ELLISON Perhaps some tea and cake would revive you, Mr Hurd.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of ,
on Oct 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Thank you, Anon., Crescent Park - wonderful, thoughtful post.

Mr./Ms. Austin - thanks for the evil chuckle :-)

The new bio of Jobs has nearly 200 holds on 40 copies at Palo Alto library. I guess people have read about it not being a very good read, so they don't want to pay $17 for the paper or electronic version, even in an area where people have $$ to burn.

Posted by pat, a resident of ,
on Oct 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Sharon: Can you provide an AUTHORITATIVE source for that Steve Jobs quote? Googling only shows it appearing in other blog comments.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of ,
on Oct 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown

If you mean Steve Jobs many times statement that his believe that

Love Cannot Buy You Money

He said it many times--Kottke his old friend from Reed recorded it as did many others from Apple--

It is in the book-and in many of his talks going back many years which are on video

He was very proud of it--he thought it was both true and funny--he even told it to Bono-

That is what he believed and it worked for him.

Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of ,
on Oct 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Well ..., by the summer of ?97, Steve had not only regained leadership at Apple after 12 years in exile, but had also launched the ?Think Different? campaign.

Interesting, personal story, Jay. Do you know if PAHA taped the June 2009 presentation? If so, I hope the Media Center airs it.

Your article reminds me of something I have been thinking about since 10/5/11. It should be fairly obvious, but as yet has not made it into public discourse: Palo Alto should find a way to commemorate the man, who was arguably its most famous and influential resident.

Cupertino will have the space ship; Los Altos, the house and garage; and Stanford, probably an academic building dedicated to business leadership, personal empowerment through technology, industrial design, or any other of a myriad of Jobsian signatures.

But what about Palo Alto, that small town that prides itself on being special, yet a place where its most special person lived during the most successful years of his life, unobtrusively weaving around town almost like any other busy resident.

Let the conversation begin.

I?ll open with an idea that I think is realistic from a current city-budget perspective.

To help capture the man among us who enjoyed the ambiance, pace, but also opportunity for privacy-in-public within our community, how about a series of Greg Brown murals of Steve blending into the streetscape just as he did.

Your turn.

Posted by Jay Thorwaldson, a resident of ,
on Oct 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Jay Thorwaldson is a registered user.

Interesting idea, Fred. I wonder if Apple would like to provide a grant for Greg. -jay

Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of ,
on Oct 31, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Well, they've got all the money in the world, but I'd rather see us a community develop and finance a concept that we come to together on, that is OK with the Jobs family, and that is paid for by a mix of city and private contributions.

Posted by Anon LA, a resident of ,
on Nov 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Thanks also Anon for taking the time to write your post.

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Worried about the cost of climate change? Here is some hope.
By Sherry Listgarten | 25 comments | 3,692 views

The Time and Cost Savings of Avoiding a Long Commute
By Steve Levy | 2 comments | 616 views


Sign-up now for 5K Run/Walk, 10k Run, Half Marathon

The 39th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 29. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually. Proceeds from the race go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.