The media got all hyped up about the Steve Jobs FBI file release this week. In 1991, Jobs was being considered for an appointment to the President’s Export Council. CNN couldn’t stop hyping it when I was passing through the airport. When I finally did hear the story, I found out that the Steve Jobs FBI file reads exactly like everyone’s FBI file would probably read.
What is revealed in these files? Very little! If the files are worth anything, they only confirm what Steve Isaacson wrote in the Jobs biography (from what I gather) and I imagine Isaacson wishes the FBI had loaned him a copy a couple years back so he wouldn’t have to go interview all the same people and find the same results.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from The Smoking Gun article:
By comparison, the interview subject spoke of his own “high ethical standards,” while noting that Jobs “will twist the truth in order to achieve whatever goal he has set for himself.” The agent wrote that the man considered Jobs “to be a deceptive person.”
The man also told the FBI that he had heard reports from mutual friends–as well as Jobs himself–that he “freely used illicit drugs” like LSD and marijuana while in college. The source also provided the agent with details about how Jobs had fathered a daughter out of wedlock with his high school girlfriend, and how he had “mistreated” them by not providing support.
Amazing gossip – an FBI agent shows up to interview this person and the guy dislikes Jobs so much that he’s willing to repeat rumors he heard from “mutual friends” only to then speak of his own “high ethical standards.” What a joke!
In the end, Jobs profile sounds like that of a highly successful CEO. In the course of business, things get competitive, some people will like the boss and some people (employees and competitors) will hate the boss. Some people liked Jobs, some people didn’t like Jobs as he was highly driven, competitive and brilliant – exactly what a successful company needs. The same thing can be said of most successful CEOs. The Jobs FBI reports are right up there with the, “can you believe Lance Armstrong is so obsessive about cycling?” stories.
If Jobs could get American exports up, then who cares whether everyone likes him. And if you wondered what an FBI background on you might look like if they interviewed all of your friends and contacts, just substitute your name for Jobs.