Though he softened up a bit later in life, Steve Jobs in his heyday was a notoriously demanding and mercurial man who wouldn’t accept anything less than perfection. In his quest to change the world, Jobs’ expectations were unwavering.
Not surprisingly, many have been quick to note the strong parallels between Jobs and Elon Musk, a modern-day visionary hell-bent on popularizing electric vehicles with Tesla and making commercial space travel a reality with SpaceX.
Interestingly enough, it turns out that these two tech titans actually met at one point in time. In a new interview with GQ, Tesla’s outspoken CEO said that his first and only encounter with Jobs didn’t leave him with a favorable impression.
I point out that there seems to be a kind of popular stereotypical narrative where figures like Jobs—and, more recently, Musk—are seen on one hand as visionary geniuses, but on the other as deeply flawed in their personalities.
“Sure,” he says. “I don’t know—I mean, the one time I met Steve Jobs, he was kind of a jerk. And everyone I know who met him…” He stops himself here, mid-sentence, and says he’d like to withdraw this answer. “Sorry. Hang on. The last thing I need is, like, more…”
Apparently the ‘withdraw’ request was denied.
While certainly a tantalizing excerpt, we probably don’t want to read too much into it without any additional context. After all, it’s completely plausible that Musk, high on himself, met Jobs and was insulted that Jobs didn’t pay him the deference he thought he deserved. Anything, really, is possible when two characters like Jobs and Musk cross paths.
At another point in the interview, Musk is asked how he might like to be remembered given how Jobs’ legacy seemingly remains open for debate, a fact driven home by the recent and rather negative portrayal of the Apple co-founder in the critically lambasted film JOBS.
In answering the question, Musk said that what a person does, the actions they take, should be more important than what people think about them.
“I think what matters is the actions,” Musk explained, “not what people think of me in the future. I’ll be long dead. But the actions that I take, will they have been useful?”
It’s an interesting topic, to be sure. Indeed, many of the tech’s greatest minds are not without controversy. In fact, many have argued that certain tech CEOs are only able to succeed on account of their intransigent personalities which compel them to keep pressing forward long after most people would have given up.
Make sure to hit the source link below for Musk’s full GQ interview. Whether you love him or can’t stand him, there’s one thing most everyone can agree on: he’s never boring.