He Noticed, and That Mattered

“Hey, could you design a widget for us?”

The request came through I’ll-never-know-precisely-what company channels at BusinessWeek, where I was just settling into my first job in The Big City, a fresh staffer looking to make a mark. Apple was working on these “widget” things for their next OS release. They were going to show them off at their annual developer conference. Could we please build one, in a hurry? Oh, and Steve Jobs would probably be approving this personally, since it might be going into his keynote. So, you know, get busy. And make it great.

Skip ahead a bit…

Have you ever been backslapped? I mean like really pop-your-eyeballs-open, jolt-your-neck backslapped? That’s what happened to me as I stood next to my boss’s boss as she watched the video from Steve’s keynote. Jobs briefly demoed our widget and quickly moved on to one from a competitor. But as he started describing it he quickly added, “It doesn’t look as nice as BusinessWeek’s…” BACKSLAP!

And just like that, I started getting more meeting invites.

I know it might sound trivial—tangential contact at best. But in Steve’s uniquely irascible way, he helped give my career a little nudge by noticing the details in my work. And for that I’ll always be grateful.