Steve Jobs: A Regular Guy

His mother, Clara finally passed away in 1986 after a long and painful battle with cancer. When an adoptive parent dies, adoptees often endure the same loss that they felt when they were abandoned as an infant. They may try to deal with the trauma by getting to know the family they lost before they were adopted. Steve was thrilled that his newfound bio sister, Mona, was an author. He saw himself in Mona in a way that was impossible with Patti, the sister who grew up with him.[1] Steve promoted Mona’s writing to his influential acquaintances and colleagues. She rewarded him by writing a scathing expose about Steve called A Regular Guy. To capitalise on her long-lost famous brother, the book exposed stories about Steve’s' sex life. Worst of all, it revealed details about Lisa - his first daughter. Mona changed the names and sold the book as fiction, but the world knew better. Did he feel betrayed? "Of course not," he says dismissively to a shocked New York Times journalist, "It's a novel. About twenty-five per-cent of it is totally me, right down to the mannerisms, and I'm certainly not telling you which twenty-five per-cent…We're family. She's one of my best friends in the world. I call her and talk to her every couple of days”.[2] Steve doesn’t talk about his birthfather. Abdulfattah "John" Jandali, born in Syria, is described by Fortune Magazine as,

A charming, promising academic, Jandali later abandoned his wife and four-year-old daughter, moving from job to job as a political science professor before leaving academe. Now 76, he works as food and beverage director at the Boomtown Hotel & Casino near Reno. Mona Simpson's novel, "The Lost Father," is based on her quest to find him.[3]

Steve says that he invites his birthmother, Joanne, to some of his family gatherings.  He seems grateful for her decision to give him up. "There was never any acrimony between us," he says. Here is another unusual reaction for an adoptee. Often they harbour a deep resentment that hides behind our rational adult personas. The New York Times journalist writes, “The effect of all this on Jobs seems to be a certain sense of calming fatalism — less urgency to control his immediate environment and a greater trust that life’s outcomes are, to a certain degree, wired in the genes.” The New York Times is the perfect conduit for Steve to spread the good word about his shiny new image. The paper is acutely aware that they are Steve’s favourite.  This may explain why so much of this blog was lifted from the popular daily. The New York Times enjoys a privilege coveted by in the mainstream circles of the press favourite – a title that can be snatched away if the wrong story came out. The article makes him sound like a recovering alcoholic reciting the serenity prayer. Steve confesses, ''I trust people more." Apparently, these new calmer waters flowed into Steve’s work-life as well. Steve explained to Fortune Magazine that he’s discovered the centre of the universe, and it’s not him:

When I have to take people out of their jobs, it's harder for me now. Much harder. I do it because that's my job. But when I look at people when this happens, I also think of them as being 5 years old. And I think that person could be me coming home to tell my wife and kids that I just got laid off, or that could be one of my kids in twenty years. I never took it so personally before. [4]

So, Steve still fired people; he just felt bad about it. His employee, Pamela Kerwin, backed up Steve's new press released image. She recalls how Steve used to deal with staff: ''After the first three words out of your mouth, he'd interrupt you and say, 'Okay, here's how I see things.' It isn't like that anymore. He listens a lot more, and he's more relaxed, more mature”.[5]  
Perhaps looking into the eyes of his child has humbled the tyrant. Little by little, he was getting to know Lisa, the daughter he never mentions in any interviews. Steve invited her into his life when she was a teenager. Lisa spent her adolescence living with him. He encouraged her to study writing like her aunt Mona. After graduating from Harvard, Lisa began a humble career as a writer. Her essays are nothing short of poetry. She seems untouched by the cynicism you would expect considering her father refused to recognise her for so long.  Her unpretentious savouring of life’s every morsel is breathtaking. Perhaps it’s a reflection of Steve finally deciding to be a part of her life. His redemption lives between the lines of Lisa's beautiful prose.

[1] Deutschman, A. (2000) The Second Coming of Steve Jobs. New York: Broadway.

[2] Lohr, S. (1997, January 12). Creating Jobs. New York Times.

[3] Elkind, P. (2008 March 5) The Trouble With Steve Jobs. Fortune Magazine.

[4] Schlender, B. (1998, November 9) The Three Faces Of Steve. Fortune Magazine.
[5] Lohr, S. (1997, January 12). Creating Jobs. New York Times.


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