Steve Jobs & Your Human Resources Career – Could You Survive His “Elevator Ride” From Hell?

By Alan Collins –

Steve Jobs was an icon. His impact on our society, how we live and how we communicate with each other was enormous. And, may never be equalled.

What I admire most is that he set high expectations both for himself…and also for his employees.
Nothing illustrates this more than a story told by Ed Niehaus.

Ed was hired by Steve Jobs as a senior executive at Apple.He remembers “the elevator ride” that has become a legendary tale in the Silicon Valley.Now, I don’t know whether this story is fact or fiction. But people still talk about it to this day. Here is the source and the story anyway in Ed’s own words:“An employee got on the elevator with me and Steve Jobs.

Steve was then in his first week as the CEO at Apple.

I could see her go, ‘oops, wrong elevator.’And Steve said, ‘Hi, who are you?’ and introduces himself to her – ‘I’m Steve Jobs’.Then turning on the charm he said, ‘What do you do?’She then explained.

After 15 seconds, the door of the elevator opens, and he says…’‘What you do is NOT essential to our business.We are not going to need you.You’re fired.’

And we walk away.”End of story. End of the elevator ride. End of her career at Apple.Though this is not a warm, touchy-feely story…it clearly illustrates Steve’s brutally high standards in action.

And, in the aftermath of Steve’s passing, it leaves us as HR professionals with some important key questions we should ask ourselves if we want to make a difference and attain success in our organizations.And those KEY QUESTIONS are these…

1. As an HR professional, could you survive the “Steve Jobs’ elevator ride” if your CEO was in the elevator?
2. From your CEO’s perspective, is what you do in HR essential to the business?
3. If so, what would you say on that elevator ride?

If you can’t answer these questions well, you’re not adding enough value or making the kind of difference you should.And, you’ve got work to do.

Just being honest.R.I.P. Steve. You will be missed.


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