TIME Apple

This Is How Terrifying It Was to Pitch Steve Jobs a New Idea

Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivering a keynote address to the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 6, 2011.
Paul Sakuma—AP Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivering a keynote address to the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 6, 2011.

“Are you smart? Are you going to waste my time?”

“The first time we met he walked into the room, looked around, realized that I was new, walked up to me and asked (all in one breath), “Are you smart? Do you know what you are talking about? Are you going to waste my time?”

So begins Brett Bilbrey’s 715-word response to the question “What was it like to deliver a presentation to Steve Jobs?” on the crowd-sourced Q&A site Quora.

It’s a response that has drawn some attention—315,000 views, 4,800 upvotes—since it was posted last month because Bilbrey was not just any third-party developer pitching a new app. He was a prolific Apple inventor and a key team manager whose name appears on more than 50 patents and whose engineers developed, among other products, Apple TV and the Mac Mini. From 2008 until his retirement in February he headed the company’s top-secret Technology Advancement Group charged with developing forward-looking technology for products of which he cannot speak.

But he can talk about what it was like to deal with a notoriously difficult boss.

Steve was wicked smart,” he writes. “I was always amazed at how sharp he was and how quickly he could focus on what was important. I don’t know ANYONE that even comes close to how good he was at being able to do that.”

“Don’t just read the story,” says The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple. “Read the comments too.”

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple AAPL coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME politics

Jeb Bush’s Sense and Sensibility

Joe Klein is TIME's political columnist and author of six books, most recently Politics Lost. His weekly TIME column, "In the Arena," covers national and international affairs.

The candidate’s grown-up tone is a breath of fresh air amid so many strident conservative voices

In a week during which Rudolph Giuliani went crusader-ballistic questioning President Obama’s patriotism–indeed, questioning his upbringing–Jeb Bush gave a speech about foreign affairs, the third serious policy speech he’s given this winter. Giuliani got all the headlines, of course. That’s how you do it now: say something heinous and the world will beat a path to your door. And Bush’s speech wasn’t exactly a barn burner. His delivery was rushed and unconvincing, though he was more at ease during the question period. He was criticized for a lack of specificity. But Bush offered something far more important than specificity. He offered a sense of his political style and temperament, which in itself presents a grownup and civil alternative to the Giuliani-style pestilence that has plagued the Republic for the past 25 years.

It has been the same in each of Bush’s three big speeches. He is a political conservative with a moderate disposition. And after giving his speeches a close read, I find Bush’s disposition far more important than his position on any given issue. In fact, it’s a breath of fresh air. I disagree with his hard line toward Cuba and the Iran nuclear negotiations, and I look forward to hearing what he has to say about reforming Obamacare. His arguments so far merit consideration, even when one disagrees with them.

There is none of John McCain’s chesty bellicosity. Bush makes no false, egregious claims, on issues foreign or domestic. He resists the partisan hyperbole that has coarsened our politics. He even, at one point in his foreign policy speech, praised Obama for the position he has taken on–get a map!–the Baltic states. He proposes a return to the bipartisan foreign policy that was operational when this nation was at its strongest. And he criticizes Obama for the right things: his sloppy rhetoric, his lack of strategy. You don’t say “Assad must go” and then let him stay. You don’t announce a “pivot” toward Asia–what are you pivoting away from? You don’t put human rights above national security, as Obama has done in his arm’s-length relationship with Egypt, which is actually fighting ISIS on the ground and in the air.

Bush’s economic vision is traditionally Republican. He believes the economy is more likely to grow with lower taxes than with government stimulus. He doesn’t bash the rich, but he doesn’t offer supply-side voodoo, either. The American “promise is not broken when someone is wealthy,” he told the Detroit Economic Club. “It is broken when achieving success is far beyond our imagination.” He is worried about middle-class economic stagnation, about the inability of the working poor to rise–his PAC is called Right to Rise. His solution is providing more opportunity rather than income redistribution. We’ll see, over time, what he means by that. And he favors reforming the public sector, especially the education and regulatory systems, as a way to create new economic energy. “It’s time to challenge every aspect of how government works,” he told a national meeting of auto dealers in San Francisco.

This would be a good argument to have in 2016. It is a fundamental challenge to what the Democrats have allowed themselves to become: the party of government workers rather than a defender of the working-, middle-class majority. Bush has already drawn fire for his record as an education reformer, with his support for charter schools and educational standards. But his argument goes beyond that to a more fundamental critique of government. He has praised the work of Philip K. Howard, whose book, The Rule of Nobody, is a road map for de-lawyering and rethinking the regulatory system.

Again, the way Bush talks about governmental sclerosis is the important thing. It’s no surprise he’s in favor of the Keystone pipeline and hydraulic fracking–he’s invested in fracking–but listen to this: “Washington shouldn’t try to regulate hydraulic fracking out of business,” he told the auto dealers. “It should be done reasonably and thoughtfully to protect the natural environment.” There is no call to blow up the Environmental Protection Agency or ignore science. But there is awareness of a radical truth: that there is no creative destruction in government. The civil service laws written in the 19th century, the regulations written before the information age, are ancient, slow-motion processes that have corroded the government’s ability to operate effectively.

Bush’s fate will tell us a lot about the Republican Party. He does not seem to be an angry man, and the need to screech has been the great Republican vulnerability in recent presidential campaigns. His candidacy takes crazy off the table–no nutso talk about vaccinations or evolution or the President’s patriotism. Even if you disagree with him, his civility demands respect.

TO READ JOE’S BLOG POSTS, GO TO time.com/swampland

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Parenting

What Parents Can Learn from the 7-Year-Old who Survived a Plane Crash

Fund for Sailor Gutzler A Facebook fundraising page for Sailor Gutzler

Kids Are Capable of More than Adults Realize

No one can believe the bravery and pluck of 7-year-old Sailor Gutzler, the little girl who survived the crash of the small Piper PA-34 plane that killed her parents, sister and cousin, and then scrambled her way through the deep, dark woods to a stranger’s house for help on Dec. 2.

With a broken wrist. And no moon to guide her. And dressed for sunny Florida, but wandering through the chill of a Kentucky winter’s eve.

Her injuries were minor and she was released from the hospital to relatives the next day, but her story is still making headlines.

An expert on one of the talk shows said that in times of extreme stress, adrenalin kicks in, enabling us to go way beyond our normal capacities. As if Sailor was somehow beyond herself in that moment. Superhuman.

Because no one can imagine a 7-year-old being just, plain competent.

Sure, what she did was fantastic. But maybe ALL our kids are capable of being smart and resourceful, if only we give them a chance.

The thing is: we don’t. Underestimating kids has become our national pastime. We think they need us to wait with them at the bus stop, to organize their social life, to solve all their problems. An article in Parenting told parents never to let two friends play together unsupervised, even if they’re old enough to stay home alone: “You want to make sure that no one’s feelings get too hurt if there’s a squabble.”

That’s right. We’re told our kids can’t even handle a squabble without parental intervention.

With this kind of advice being shoved down our throats, I don’t blame parents for overprotecting. I do blame the fearmongering media for insisting that almost everything—a plastic bottle! a bad grade! a bike ride!—could somehow cripple our kids.

When, ironically, the ones really being crippled are the parents. Crippled with fear. Obviously, kids are more competent than we allow them to be: Until modern times, the parents were 13 year olds! They kept the species going! And to this day, says David Lancy, author of The Anthropology of Childhood, between 40 and 60% of the world’s toddlers are cared for by their older siblings, who may be just a year or two older than they are. We forget this when we worry that our kids need mom to pick up her 8 year old from the playdate a few blocks away.

There’s only one way I’ve found to fight that fear, and that’s with reality. In fact—promo alert— I’m about to host a reality show, World’s Worst Mom, starting Thursday night, Jan. 22, on Discovery Life.

Here’s what fear looks like: One mom I visit follows her 10-year-old daughter not just into the public bathroom, but into the stall, to keep her safe. Another wants to put videocameras throughout the house so she can make sure her six kids, aged 0-13, don’t sneak outside to play, even in the yard.

These aren’t bad moms, just terrified. They have no idea how competent their kids really are, because they’ve never let them go.

So my job is simple. I take the kids away from them. The 10 year old? I sent her to the park across the street park with her 12-year-old brother—something they’d never been allowed to do.

The kids of the mom who didn’t want them to go outside? I sent the three tweens down their suburban block, beyond where mom could see. Then I kept her in the house, while they set up a lemonade stand.

When all these kids came home—happy, sweaty, thrilled to have finally had even the most modest of adventures—I thought maybe the moms would be mad. Instead, they were out of their minds…with joy.

They were so proud of their kids, one of them actually grabbed me in her arms and twirled me around.

Now, obviously, it takes a lot more to get yourself out of a plane wreck than to run a lemonade stand. But at base what we’re talking about is this: Our kids are way more competent than we think. We cheat them—and us—when we don’t let them prove it.

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Think Tanks: What Are They Good For?

Hands on light bulb
Joos Mind—Getty Images

In a democracy desperate for new ideas and nonpartisanship, they might plan our future

In The Comedian, Jerry Seinfeld’s movie about his craft, Seinfeld reveals he always wanted to do a skit about think tanks. The comedian, always keen to deconstruct meaning, defines think tanks as: “It’s a tank… to think in…” And then he plots a skit where a think tank employee sitting in a bare room in a Rodin-like thoughtful pose is asked by colleagues if he is ready to go to lunch, only to respond that wait, wait, he isn’t done with his “work.” And then he suddenly is.

Seinfeld must have appreciated that Washington think tanks now find themselves in the spotlight, as the New York Times and other news outlets are taking a close look at the links between them and their funders, particularly foreign ones, raising the specter that they are just another form of influence-peddling organizations in disguise. I don’t think this is the case. I hope not, for my sake (I work at a think tank) and for the sake of our democracy. Most of the think tanks singled out have such diverse and competing funding bases that it’s hard to imagine them being overly swayed by any single donor. Still I confess that I’m glad that these reports have put the very important issue of institutional transparency back on our radars.

But the media attention also raised the larger Seinfeldian question of what exactly is a think tank and what is its role in our political system? It’s a question to which I have given a lot of thought, trying to come up with a better definition than Seinfeld’s crisp description. A few years ago, I was directing a growing program at a think tank—albeit one that is also a living presidential memorial and operates a bit differently than others—and I wanted to figure out how we could be more effective in our daily work. I called up colleagues at other organizations, including many I’d never met before, a few journalists, and a handful of policymakers to get a sense of when and how think tanks can impact policy issues. The results were enlightening, and I eventually wrote them down in a short book on think tank strategy.

In their most basic form, think tanks are part of the information flow in a democratic society, conducting research and analysis, and disseminating their findings and recommendations through publications and live gatherings that allow busy policymakers, advocates, journalists, and average citizens to hear diverse perspectives on important public issues. At their best they do even more, framing old issues in new ways and occasionally even coming up with actionable ideas to address some of the challenges and opportunities facing society. Harried policymakers—from cabinet secretaries to members of Congress and their staffs to civil servants implementing legislation—rarely have time to step back from the demands of the moment to conduct research and take a longer view on their portfolios. The best think tanks help break this inertia by injecting some long-term thinking and reassessments into Washington’s bloodstream.

The best think tanks also serve as hubs to bring together diverse groups that may not always speak with each other—politicians, civil servants, advocates, academics, journalists, and average citizens engaged with a particular subject. And some serve as conduits between universities, where a great deal of sophisticated but inaccessible research is done, and the larger public debate. Indeed, think tanks have proliferated in part because traditional academics often withdraw into abstract intramural scholarly debates divorced from day-to-day decision-making. The findings of scholarly research, too, are increasingly disseminated through niche publications that are hard for outsiders to use. Think tanks thus mind the gap between academia and Washington, providing a platform for researchers eager to see their work applied outside the ivory tower (which is looking more and more like an impregnable silo these days).

And much of the best work of think tanks involves building coalitions around new ideas. For instance, the Center for Global Development (one of the think tanks featured in the New York Times for accepting funding from the Norwegian government) was successful at creating a partnership among several institutions a few years ago to encourage research and production of vaccines for deadly diseases that mostly affect children in the developing world. Since drug companies had few market incentives to pursue these vaccines, the CGD worked with Harvard University, stakeholders from the governments of donor nations, and the World Bank to develop a blueprint for an Advanced Market Commitment, in which governments guaranteed that they would buy the vaccines if produced. Today this work has led to the production of millions of doses of vaccines to save the lives of children around the world.

Somewhat more modestly, I was involved in a very practical study a few years ago at the Wilson Center on how to leverage risk management tools to make the U.S.-Mexico border both more secure and more competitive. In the end, we involved two Mexican think tanks and the Los Angeles-based Pacific Council in producing two studies, which engaged key national, state, and local policymakers, business leaders, and civil society representatives on both sides of the border to come up with a blueprint for intelligent border management. Today, many of the ideas have become common practice, make the border more secure and improving the economy at the same time.

There are hundreds of other examples of think tank ideas that have effectively found their way into policy, largely because they have built coalitions of thinkers and doers, often drawing on the resources and knowledge in academia while engaging key stakeholders. The Brookings Institution, for example, has had a major impact in stimulating practical innovations to make U.S. cities better managed and more resilient; the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has helped extend the Earned Income Tax Credit to almost half of all U.S. states because of its work with state governments and local organizations; and the Heritage Foundation played a decisive role in laying the conceptual and organizational bases for the Department of Homeland Security after the 9/11 attacks. Similarly, the Rand Corporation, a venerable think tank that was first established as an outfit within the Air Force and later spun off, conducted the background study that convinced the Department of Defense to abandon its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and include gays and lesbians as full members of the U.S. armed forces.

And think tanks are probably even more effective in helping frame issues so that policymakers and the public think about them differently—or examine them for the first time. The work of both the Carnegie Endowment and the Kennan Institute on Russia-U.S. relations has been critical to help us better understand the Putin enigma; research on global attitudes at the Pew Center and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs helps us understand what people in the United States and around the world think about each other; the Baker Institute in Houston has produced some of the most insightful work on energy futures.

Some critics have decried the rise of partisan and ideological agendas in think tanks, but the concern seems overwrought. Decision-making in our country is based on a contest of competing interests and opinions in the marketplace of ideas. It is healthy for political parties and interest groups to have their own affiliated research groups that can flesh out proposed policy prescriptions, whatever their political orientation, with more care and consideration than frontline politicians could ever do. The more well thought-out, competing voices in the debates over our nation’s future course, the better. And, as with any marketplace, it is the responsibility of consumers—in this case, journalists and policymakers—to be informed shoppers, to know the leanings of the organizations that they use as sources of information, and to demand transparency regarding their sources of funding and purpose. And think tanks would be wise to err on the side of disclosure to help this marketplace function well.

At the same time, in today’s hyper-partisan environment, Washington is also in need of a set of think tanks not driven by strong partisan or ideological agendas that can convene diverse points of view in a neutral, trusted setting. There has never been a greater need for organizations that can inject a measure of reason and rationality into otherwise polarized debates, bridging and brokering partisan divides, marshaling facts and dispassionate analysis. Indeed, in Washington, as Seinfeld would put it, there has never been a greater need for “a tank… to think in.”

Andrew Selee wrote this for What It Means to Be American, a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square. He is executive vice president of the Woodrow Wilson Center and the author of What Should Think Tanks Do? A Strategic Guide to Policy Impact (Stanford, 2013). The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not reflect an institutional position.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 29

1. We must confront the vast gulf between white and black America if we want to secure racial justice after Ferguson.

By the Editors of the Nation

2. As ISIS recruits more western acolytes, it’s clear military might alone can’t defeat it. We must overcome radical Islam on the battleground of ideas.

By Maajid Nawaz in the Catholic Herald

3. Kids spend hours playing the game Minecraft. Now they can learn to code while doing it.

By Klint Finley in Wired

4. One powerful way to raise the quality of America’s workforce: Make community colleges free.

By the Editors of Scientific American

5. Restrictions on where sex offenders can live after prison is pure politics. They do nothing to prevent future offenses.

By Jesse Singal in New York Magazine’s Science of Us

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Internet

The Internet As a Human Right

An audacious idea whose time has come

Kosta Grammatis likes to think big.

In 2011, around the time of the Arab Spring, Grammatis grew frustrated at the ways governments can pull the plug on people’s Internet access as a form of social and political control. He wanted to figure out how to circumvent political and physical obstacles and bring digital media to anywhere it was otherwise unavailable. He and some colleagues set out to buy a satellite from a bankrupt company and use it to beam connectivity to places like Tunisia. That plan turned out to be harder to realize than to it was to imagine.

But Grammatis, a web evangelist, is a true believer in the good things that can happen in a more interconnected world. He recalibrated his thinking to rely less on expensive orbital technology and more on working with established communications and financial institutions.

But the idea remains big. His new startup, Oluvus — i.e., “all of us” — remains focused on wiring the entire planet and bringing free Internet to the five billion people who do not have access.

In the video above, Grammatis tells the story of how he got where he is now and why this time, the odds of success look good.


TIME The Drucker Difference

Getting Past the Great Ideological Divide in Business Today

In 1946, as unionized workers in America’s steel mills, coalfields, rail yards, auto plants and electrical equipment factories crippled the economy by launching a wave of strikes, Peter Drucker urged the two sides in the great struggle to find some way to get past their deep differences.

“What we need is not an ideology,” he wrote, “but a science—a new science of industrial peace.”

The same might well be said of the defining divide in today’s business world: those who hold that “maximizing shareholder value” is a corporation’s primary mission versus those who believe that companies have an obligation to provide benefit to a multitude of stakeholders.

That this is a clash being waged by individuals who cling to their own dogma and tend to talk right past one another is underscored by a study being released today from the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

“Often,” says Miguel Padró, an Aspen program manager, “there’s more ideology than pure logic at play here.”

To better understand this dynamic—as well as its myriad nuances, which suggest where common ground may lie—Aspen commissioned the Keller Fay Group, a marketing research firm, to conduct 28 one-hour interviews with corporate executives, investors and scholars about the purpose of the corporation. The study doesn’t identify who said what, but it does list the participants, which included folks from PepsiCo, Kroger, Eli Lilly, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, BlackRock, Generation Investment Management, Northwestern University, MIT and Harvard.

Many of the views expressed were stark. “Societies that don’t have shareholder value as a goal never succeed,” said one of the interviewees, who added that “the old Soviet Union . . . was the ultimate stakeholder society.” From the other end of the spectrum came this: “Corporations serve society rather than the other way around. . . . To the extent there’s a single mission, it would be a social one. But really, when you unpack that a little bit, you’re talking about a lot of different missions that affect the wellbeing of a range of stakeholders.”

Interestingly, Drucker had problems with each of these positions, at least in their most extreme forms. It was in the 1950s, he noted, that General Electric CEO Ralph Cordiner and some of his peers began to preach “that senior executives were responsible for managing the enterprise ‘in the best-balanced interest of shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, and plant community cities.’ That is, what we now call stakeholders.”

The trouble was that “Cordiner’s generation and its executive successors did not define what performance and results produce the best balance, nor did they develop any kind of accountability,” Drucker explained. At the same time, he wrote, “boards of directors . . . became increasingly impotent and increasingly rubber stamps for a company’s top management.” And any organization is bound to deteriorate “into mediocrity and malperformance if it is not clearly accountable for results and not clearly accountable to someone.”

By the mid-1970s, this failure had spurred the rise of a new philosophy: putting shareholders first. “It sounds much less noble than Cordiner’s assertion of the ‘best-balanced interest,’ but it also sounds much more realistic,” Drucker observed in a 1991 essay for Harvard Business Review. Yet this, too, had a fatal flaw: “For most people,” Drucker pointed out, “‘maximizing shareholder value’ means a higher share price within six months or a year—certainly not much longer.”

As I’ve written, this has led to all kinds of misguided corporate decisions that, while enabling executive pay to bloat, have done serious damage to both company and society in the long run.

Which brings us to where we are today: one camp pushing a model that didn’t work terribly well decades ago, and the other pushing a model that has degenerated into what McKinsey & Co.’s Dominic Barton disdainfully describes as “quarterly capitalism.”

This would be utterly depressing, except that the Aspen study also contains some glimmers of promise. Notably, more than half of the respondents either strongly or somewhat strongly agreed that the primary purpose of the corporation is to serve customers’ interests—an idea that has been advanced by the University of Toronto’s Roger Martin as ultimately the best means to please shareholders themselves.

“To create shareholder value,” Martin has written, “you should instead aim to maximize customer satisfaction. In other words—and nobody should be surprised by this—Peter Drucker had it right when he said that the primary purpose of a business is to acquire and keep customers.”

Beyond that, according to Aspen, greater accountability for corporate management was “a central concern” among those interviewed, while “long-term value creation appears to be a unifying goal.” Indeed, as Keller Fay put it, “this may be the most surprising—and gratifying—outcome of the study: Some of the most vehement criticisms of short-term decision making emanated from the enthusiastic shareholder-value advocates.”

Can we really shift to a customer-oriented, long-term-focused business culture undergirded by adequate accountability? Not easily. But launching an in-depth dialogue on the topic, as Aspen has done, is an important step toward the way that Drucker wanted companies to behave: “Unlike Cordiner, they do not ‘balance’ anything,” he wrote. “They maximize.” But they do not attempt to maximize shareholder value. Instead, “they maximize the wealth-producing capacity of the enterprise.”

“It is this objective,” Drucker concluded, “that integrates short-term and long-term results and that ties the operational dimensions of business performance—market standing, innovation, productivity and people and their development—with financial needs and financial results.”

All of which seems a lot more like science than ideology to me.

A final word: “Everything human beings do,” Drucker wrote, “obsoletes sooner or later.” It is with this in mind, and with bittersweet feelings, that this marks my last “Drucker Difference” column. After more than six and a half years of tying Peter Drucker’s timeless insights to current events—first at BusinessWeek, then at Forbes and now at Time—the moment has come to turn my attention to other priorities and other writing. But don’t be fooled: This shouldn’t be read as a sign that Drucker’s wisdom is no longer relevant. Quite the contrary. So, please, take part in the continuing conversation @DruckerInst. I look forward to seeing you there.

TIME social good

Watch: How Haute Couture Can Use the Marketplace for Social Good

Combining a social agenda with good business produces beautiful results

What happens when a social activist and a fashion-industry executive put their heads together in order to create social good? Maiyet, a New York-based luxury fashion brand working with local artisans in the developing world, aims to find out.

Co-founder Paul van Zyl, who came of age during the fight against apartheid in South Africa, believes the firm’s mission is to make sure that “people at the bottom of the pyramid can lead dignified lives.”

His business partner, Kristy Caylor, a career fashion executive, is troubled by the fact that consumers can buy a “one dollar t-shirt that was made half way across the globe and assume that people’s human rights have been respected and that people are being paid properly.”

Rather than rail against injustice, however, the pair set out to change the conversation among the people at the top of the industry by finding people with world-class skills in local markets without access to design direction or infrastructure and work with them to build a brand that give expression to their “raw talent” while at the same time succeeds commercially.

Judging from the response they got at Paris Fashion Week last month, they are off to a good start.


Watch: How Scientists Plan To Bring Extinct Species Back To Life

Resurrecting long-dead species of animals, or 'de-extinction', will not be a fantasy for much longer. But how is it possible?

Conservationists and scientists have a saying, “extinction is forever.” But soon biologists will be able to clone long-gone animals, in the hopes of redefining that axiom to “DE-extinction is forever.”

TIME talked with Stewart Brand, president of Revive & Restore, about the technology that may soon allow scientists to bring back extinct species using the DNA found in museum fossils.

In the video above, researchers discuss the process of bringing extinct species like the passenger pigeons back to life.

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