Life is a Mystery

30 November 2012

Nobody over 30 ever had a good idea

Monica Ertel spent 16 years at Apple. I met her when she ran the Apple Library Users Group in the 1990’s. I love this anecdote from a 1996 interview:

Steve Jobs–he was president then, and he had an open door policy and anybody could go and talk to him. Down the line I hired some people and this woman was about 32 years old I guess, and she went to talk to him. And you could just go in his office. And he made some remark about how nobody over 30 ever had a good idea. And he was like all of 24 years old. And she was just inflamed by this! So she came back to me and said we have to do some research. We have to put together a list of people over the age of 80 who had great ideas, so we found in the Book of Lists people over 80 who had revolutionary ideas and we sent it to him and we never heard from him again. But, I’ll never forget that because he was 31 when he started Next. And I never forgot it and I thought–I wonder if he remembers his arrogant youth when he said that no one over 30 ever had a good idea. You know, Next hasn’t been all that successful, so maybe he was right! Maybe it’s come around.

Monica left Apple in 1998 when Steve returned. Apple’s corporate library was one of the things that fell under his ax as he slimmed Apple into a fighting trim. Some might say he had a few good ideas left in him after 30!

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Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org