The man on the right is John Sculley, former Apple CEO (we can all be grateful that the man on the left dumped the bow tie for the turtleneck). Sculley took over at Apple in 1983, after Apple's co-founder and senior 'grown-up' Mike Markkula retired. The board didn't trust Jobs to actually run the company, and so, with Jobs's co-operation, they lured Sculley from Pepsi-Cola, where he had been a highly successful marketing executive. The two soon became locked in a power struggle, which Sculley won, forcing Jobs out. Sculley stayed for a decade, and while the company grew during that time it lost direction, failed to innovate successfully, and became, essentially, mediocre.
Last year, Sculley gave a remarkable interview about his time at Apple and his impressions of Jobs. With any animosity long-dissolved, Sculley is perceptive, candid, self-critical, and fascinating on the topic of Jobs's working methods. Better than anyone else I've read, he articulates what it is about Jobs that makes him different, that made him great. If you're interested you should really read the whole thing, but here's a taster:
I remember going into Steve’s house and he had almost no furniture in it. He just had a picture of Einstein, whom he admired greatly, and he had a Tiffany lamp and a chair and a bed [there's a photo here]. He just didn’t believe in having lots of things around but he was incredibly careful in what he selected. The same thing was true with Apple. Here’s someone who starts with the user experience, who believes that industrial design shouldn’t be compared to what other people were doing with technology products but it should be compared to people were doing with jewellery...
...Sony should have had the iPod but they didn’t — it was Apple. The iPod is a perfect example of Steve’s methodology of starting with the user and looking at the entire end-to-end system. It was always an end-to-end system with Steve. He was not a designer but a great systems thinker. That is something you don’t see with other companies. They tend to focus on their piece and outsource everything else. If you look at the state of the iPod, the supply chain going all the way over to iPod city in China – it is as sophisticated as the design of the product itself. The same standards of perfection are just as challenging for the supply chain as they are for the user design. It is an entirely different way of looking at things...
...What Steve’s brilliance is, is his ability to see something and then understand it and then figure out how to put into the context of his design methodology — everything is design. An anecdotal story, a friend of mine was at meetings at Apple and Microsoft on the same day and this was in the last year, so this was recently. He went into the Apple meeting (he’s a vendor for Apple) and when he went into the meeting at Apple as soon as the designers walked in the room, everyone stopped talking because the designers are the most respected people in the organization. Everyone knows the designers speak for Steve because they have direct reporting to him. It is only at Apple where design reports directly to the CEO.
...Apple is not really a technology company. Apple is really a design company...that’s what makes it different. Look at the stores, at the stairs in the stores. They are made of some special glass that had to be fabricated. And that’s so typical of the way he thinks. Everyone around him knows he beats to a different drummer. He sets standards that are entirely different than any other CEO would set. He’s a minimalist and he is constantly reducing things to their simplest level. It’s not simplistic. It’s simplified. Steve is a systems designer. He simplifies complexity.
Most of the world is split into engineers and artists. Artists create or appreciate beautiful things. Engineers make things work. Jobs combined both sensibilities - he saw the whole of the moon.
He even writes well. Very few CEOs are able to give speeches as good as this (and if you think it was ghostwritten you haven't been paying attention). In short form, you can see the Apple aesthetic in his resignation letter, which is elegant, economical, direct and - in his request to remain an Apple employee - touching. Apple will miss him. We all will.