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Steve Jobs and Character and Leadership 


How Tolerating Obnoxious People Can Pay Off
Topics: Tolerance, Respect, Authorities
Story for Teaching Character and Life Skills


A geeky engineer named Woz worked with an obnoxious partner named Steve. They had certain things in common – like an interest in computers and a love for practical jokes. But in other ways they were worlds apart.  Steve was into this hippie thing, going barefoot all the time and skipping way too many baths. As a result, he often stunk, but refused to believe he stunk because he was convinced that his weird diet kept him from needing deodorant.


Then there was the special way Steve made you feel when you disagreed with him. Sometimes he’d scream and cry and pitch fits rather than believe that, just once, maybe someone else might be right. If he didn’t like something you were working on, he’d often say it was stupid or useless without even listening to your side. Have you ever had to put up with people like that? Needless to say, Steve wasn’t the easiest person to work with and many people simply couldn’t tolerate him.


But Woz is glad that he tolerated Steve’s irritating quirks and hung in there with him. Together, Steve Wozniak (known as Woz) and Steve Jobs started a little computer company called Apple, which eventually gave the world billions of dollars worth of useful products including computers, iPhones, iPods, iPads, and iTunes.  


As irritatingly different as they were, Woz and Jobs needed each other. Woz happily programmed and designed in solitude, not relishing dealing with publicity and sales. Jobs became the public face of the company, helping to dream up designs but also making sure the products got out there.  Apple became one of the most successful companies in the world because two very different people tolerated each other enough to work together and change the world. (1)




1. What made Steve Jobs get on people’s nerves?

2. What would have made it hard for you to get along with Steve Jobs?

3. How do you think Woz tolerated such irritating qualities?

4. Did Woz have to agree with Job’s beliefs and actions to tolerate him?

5. Does “tolerating” mean that you never confront people about their obnoxious behavior?

6. When do you confront and when do you let it slide?   

7. What can this story teach us about the benefits of tolerance?

1) Facts from Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 34,43,81,83,84,88,90,91,93,95,101,103,112,121,etc.



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