10 October 2021
Many people have told their Steve Jobs stories this year on the 10th anniversary of his passing. Mine is just a small story.
In about 1981, when I was a junior at The Ohio State University, I was trying to figure out what was next for me – job, graduate school, what kind of graduate school (business, EE). I was fortunate to have a good family friend, Jim Dutton, who was CEO of a startup, Caere Corporation, out in Los Gatos. He offered to host me on a tour of Silicon Valley to help me make up my mind. Just the opportunity to fly to California and to visit Silicon Valley seemed like an amazing adventure to me.
I flew out and stayed with Jim, Joan, and his family. I didn’t understand exactly how connected Jim was. Over the next 3 days I was able to visit a lot of companies, and I got the chance to talk personally with Gene Amdahl at Amdahl Corp, Bob Noyce at Intel, and Steve Jobs at Apple. They were all a little intimidating, but Steve especially so, he was intense and excited about his work. He was in his full beard days. He pressed me hard on why I was considering various paths.
I only realized later in life what a great gift this trip had been. I thanked Jim a lot at the time but probably didn’t thank him enough. And I never really appreciated the time that these people gave me until later. They took time out of their busy days to meet some nobody kid from Ohio, that was incredibly nice. I probably could have fought my way into a job at one of their companies at that time if I had been savvy enough, I might have missed a great adventure and a great financial windfall, but my career turned out ok.
Steve and these other leaders taught me that we always have the time to reach out and help people entering their careers, we always have the time to be helpful and gracious to young people. I try to live up to that.