Steve Jobs: timing and humor

On August 25 Steve Jobs announced his retirement. It is surprising he didn’t retire earlier as his health has obviously been in decline. But you have to hand it to him: he timed the announcement very well.

In August 2011 Apple became America’s most valuable company, surpassing Exxon Mobile’s market capitalization. What a great moment to bow out and say: I’ve made my mark, Apple will survive without me. Perfect timing.

The moment he made his announcement the internet spawned an immediate joke: “Steve Jobs announces Retirement, now everybody wants Retirement.”

All sorts of magazines came out with their favorite Steve Jobs moments. Many of the moments focus on another Jobs trait: humor. Apple audiences are always appreciative of Steve’s tongue-in-cheeck comments and wonderfully choreographed presentations.

Having watched many Steve Jobs presentations over the years I’d like to add my three favorite moments:

1) In 1997, with Apple on its knees, Steve Jobs asked Bill Gates to invest USD 150 million in his company. Gates did, and when the face of the benefactor was shown live via satellite link during Mac World Expo the whole crowd started to jeer. Both Jobs and Gates had a laugh about it.

2) At the 2008 Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) he starts off with this quote by Mark Twain: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” It was his cheeky response to a premature obituary accidentally released by Bloomberg.

3) At the 2002 WWDC Jobs announces the death of Mac OS 9, its outdated operating system, by giving a eulogy on stage in front of a coffin. The coffin carried a copy of Mac OS 9. Jobs describes Mac OS 9 as a good old friend whose time had come. His delivery is great.

In all three cases the timing was great – even significant – and the humor perfect.

Enjoy the video.

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About Case

Managing Director at Black Isle Group Asia, helping executives stand out when they speak.
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