Voices Monday, June 16, 2014 - 05:30
Amarja Nargunde  Apple founder Steve Jobs and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have many things in common, from their family backgrounds to qualities as adults. Both Jobs and Modi spent their childhood in a family which was not economically well off. Jobs was an adopted child and his father kept switching sources of his livelihood like fixing cars and reselling them to working as a real estate broker. Jobs’ mother did book-keeping work during the family’s financial crunch times.  At one point of time when Jobs’ fourth grade teacher asked students what was it that they didn’t understand about the universe, Jobs asked “I don’t understand why all of a sudden my dad is so broke?” In Modi’s case also his mother did some domestic work in the neighborhood to raise her kids. Modi worked at his father’s tea shop. Both leaders rose up from a very modest background. In the early young life both tried to seek spiritual enlightenment. Jobs was a hippie and travelled to Himalayan region of India to meet a saint called Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj Ji). He didn’t meet the saint and returned to America after spending 9 months travelling in India. Later Jobs became follower of Zen Buddhism and also wanted to turn monk only to be told by his master that he could continue working in the field of business and there was no need of turning monk for spiritual awakening.  In Modi’s case, he left his house for travelling across India. Modi spent 2 years in Himalaya. Modi too wanted to turn sanyasi and stayed in Belur Mutt of Ramkrishna Mission. Modi too was told by a saint that it wasn’t necessary to turn sanyasi and he could serve country in different way too. Both Jobs and Modi have been criticized for abandoning women in their lives. In Jobs case things went a little far, as Jobs denied paternity of a girl child from his girl friend. He settled the dispute out of court accepting the paternity to avoid any controversy just before Apple went public.  Modi’s case, he got engaged at the age of 13 and got married by the time he was 18. Soon after marriage he left his house. Although he never denied overtly that he was married, he kept his marital status column blank while filing nominations for the assembly elections. It was after the Supreme Court ruling that candidates cannot leave columns blank in the nomination papers, that for the first time Modi wrote name of his wife while filing nomination for the Loksabha election and accepted publically that he was married. Their association with Japan is another point that comes to mind. Jobs travelled to Japan in early stages of his carrier for business purposes. His bond only grew as he became follower of Zen Buddhism. Kyoto was Jobs’ one of favorite places where he took even his kids for visits. Jobs drew lot of inspiration from Japanese companies, especially Sony. The Indian prime minister too, has visited Japan when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. Only 3 accounts that Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo follows on Twitter, one is of Modi. Modi’s dream project of bullet train is especially the one which has said to be inspired from Japan. No wonder some of the first major foreign visits Modi has planned Japan tops the list. Both have their signature dressing style, with Jobs with his black turtle neck and blue jeans and Modi with his own styled Kurta. Jobs’ toughest time in life was those ten years when he was away from Apple. He started his second company NeXT and bought an animation studio Pixar. Modi’s toughest times were his twelve years which he spent as Gujarat Chief Minister. 2002 Gujarat riots made Modi point of bitter criticism from his opponents and national as well as international media. He had to undergo the intense investigation by SIT set up by Supreme Court of India. Simultaneously he continued his development work in a state which was ruined by earthquake and communal riots. Here is the look at some of the similarities and lessons one can draw from their working life. Have passion for work: Both leaders can be found working relentlessly in their respective fields. Modi too campaigned tirelessly during elections. Have your own style: Jobs admired others but he never tried to imitate or copy anybody’s style. Modi too can be seen admiring many of leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee from his own party. But he maintains his own way of working. Be a great talent finder: Jobs never hired people based on their educational background. During interviews he only asked candidates what they could offer to the organization and evaluated whether candidate could fit in Apple culture. Jobs was able to create a team of his trusted and amazingly talented lieutenants like Tim Cook, Johny Ive. In Modi’s case, many had doubts when Modi made Amit Shah campaign manager for the state of Uttar Pradesh. Do not listen to “Experts”: When it comes to their critics both Jobs and Modi has stumped those so called ‘experts’. iPod was criticized heavily for being overpriced. Modi is one of those rare Indian politicians who almost became politically untouchable in politics due to intense and relentless media criticism and perception that got created. Rally troops against common enemy: Jobs always rallied his employees and Apple followers against one competitor. In early Apple days it was IBM. Later it was Microsoft, Dell and Google’s Android. In Modi’s case he almost made a showdown appear as ‘him versus the rest’. He made full frontal attack on Gandhi family and called rest of the parties just allies in disguise of the Congress party. Marketing Matters: Jobs was called as perhaps the only CEO on the globe who paid such meticulous attention to marketing. In Modi’s case even his opponents agree that Modi is very good at marketing.  Amarja Nargunde is Associate Professor, Management Studies at a college in Maharashtra. The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.

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