How Billie Jean Calmed Steve Jobs

Sources: CNet | All Things Michael

all things Michael edit

On Monday, Andy Cunningham hosted a panel in Palo Alto, California, where the three women talked about how Steve Jobs challenged, infuriated and pushed them to achieve great things. They were joined by Hoffman and Barbara Koalkin Barza, a former product marketing manager for the Mac and later director of marketing at Pixar, the animation studio Jobs bought after being fired from Apple in 1985.

Jobs “made it possible for you to do anything you wanted,” Cunningham said. The women of the Mac team “had the freedom to do what we were good at doing.”

Hoffman, speaking during the panel Monday, said “what is true is that so often Steve was so enthusiastic and so brilliant and visionary and not necessarily reasonable.” Barza noted that “Steve had a laser focus on details,” which is a something she has taken to heart throughout her career.

Here is a story that Andy shared about how Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean soothed Steve’s surly temperament when being photographed:

Music’s charms

“Billie Jean is not my lover/She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one/But the kid is not my son/She says I am the one/But the kid is not my son.” — lyrics to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

Introducing a major product is a lot like planning a crucial battle. Both can succeed or fail on the campaign’s logistics. For the January 24, 1984, introduction of the Mac, those logistics included the then-unheard-of idea of “multiple exclusives,” in which Apple served up different slices of information to leading US publications.

About two weeks before the Mac’s launch, Cunningham and Jobs flew to the tony Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side. They had reserved a suite for several days’ of one-on-one interviews and photo shoots.

There was just one wrinkle: Jobs “absolutely hated” having his picture taken and would turn “surly and kinda nasty” with the photographer, recalled Cunningham.

The soothing sounds of music came to the rescue.

-BILLIE-JEAN-michael-jackson-22674394-500-281

“I discovered he loved Michael Jackson and the song ‘Billie Jean,'” she said. “And I discovered that when I played it on a cassette player, he became really docile and friendly and smiled for the cameraman. As soon as the song was over, he would go back to his snarling self.”

The cassette player got plenty of exercise. (His musical choice is ironic given that he was in a paternity battle with the mother of his eldest daughter, Lisa, before the Mac was unveiled.)

“While we were doing the shoot, I was constantly rewinding, rewinding, rewinding,” Cunningham said. “It calmed the waters.”

 

Read more here

 

One thought on “How Billie Jean Calmed Steve Jobs

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s