Extractive summaries of and key takeaways from the articles curated from TOP TEN BUSINESS MAGAZINES to promote informed business decision-making | Week 293 | April 21-27, 2023
Steve Jobs Once Wrote His Mentor an Email to Criticize His Company. The Response Was a Master Class in Emotional Intelligence
By Justin Bariso | Inc Magazine | April 25, 2023
Listen to the Extractive Summary of the Article
The year was 1995. Jobs was CEO of Pixar, an upstart animation company that was making huge gains in the graphics industry. Jobs and his mentor, Intel CEO Andy Grove, had been discussing how Intel might benefit from Pixar’s learnings. But when an Intel engineer sent Jobs an email to follow up, Jobs suggested that Intel should pay for this privileged information.
The engineer responded by putting the meeting on hold. He wrote, “We have not entered into any financial arrangement in exchange for good ideas for our microprocessors in the past and have no intention for the future.”
Jobs was offended. “This approach has not served you well in the past,” he wrote, “as evidenced by your poor graphics architectures and performance.” Jobs then wrote Grove directly, calling the engineer’s email “extremely arrogant” and labeling his (and Intel’s) understanding of computer graphics architecture as “dismal.”
Just one day later, Grove responded to Jobs. Grove’s email is a master class in communication, persuasion, and emotional intelligence, and it shows why Grove proved to be a mentor for Jobs for much of his life.
In his years in Silicon Valley, Grove became known for his communication style as much as his intelligence. He was fond of Jobs, who looked to Grove for advice and friendship through the years. But Grove wasn’t afraid to tell Jobs he was wrong–and that’s exactly what Grove did in this case.
“Steve, I am firmly on [our engineer’s] side on this one,” Grove wrote in his reply. “You and I have talked many times about this subject; you never suggested or hinted at this being a commercial exchange,” Grove continues. “I took your offer to help us exactly as that: help, not an offer of a commercial relationship.” “In my view,” Grove writes, “that’s what friendly companies (and friends) do for each other. In the long run, these things balance out.”
Grove’s email is a masterful example of how to disagree and express opposing viewpoints while remaining respectful. But Grove’s message does more, as can be seen with its powerful ending: “I am sorry you don’t feel that way,” Grove writes. “We will be worse off as a result, and so will the industry.”
With these two lines, Grove demonstrates his ability to tug at Jobs’s emotions. It’s as if Grove is saying, “Hey, not only have I helped you in the past, but you’re missing a chance to do something bigger than money here–to help push the industry forward.”
The message hit the mark. Five days later, Jobs responded with remorse. “Andy, I have many faults, but one of them is not ingratitude,” he wrote. “And, I do agree with you that ‘In the long run, these things balance out.’ Therefore, I have changed my position 180 degrees–we will freely help [your engineer] make his processors much better for 3-D graphics.” Jobs also concluded his email on an emotional note: “Thanks for the clearer perspective.”
When Grove received Jobs’s initial email, he could have blasted Jobs. Or Grove could have capitulated to Jobs, who was known for his relentlessness. He did neither. Instead, Grove appealed to Jobs on both an intellectual and emotional level. By reminding him of the past, he prodded him to also think of the future. In doing so, Grove not only convinced Jobs that he was wrong, he motivated him to change course.
2 key takeaways from the article
- If you’re faced with telling someone they’re wrong, remember: be respectful, focus on things they find important, and appeal not only to their intellect but also to their emotions.
- To persuade someone to make a change, you must convince not only their mind but also their heart. And that’s what we call emotional intelligence.
Topics: Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Communication