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Steve Jobs Originally Called the Genius Bar “Idiotic”

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In this week’s Recode Decode podcast, Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher had a very interesting conversation with Ron Johnson, founder and CEO of personal commerce tech product delivery company Enjoy. Johnson previously worked at Apple from 2000 onwards, running the Apple retail stores division.

As you might expect, Johnson had some interesting things to say about his time at Apple, and in particular about the late Apple co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs.

Johnson said that he and Jobs “clicked from Day One,” and that Jobs even gave him some homework when he went to interview for a job at Apple,

“He said to me, ‘It’s Thanksgiving weekend coming up. Why don’t you write down what you would do? How would you approach retail? Tell me about it,” said Johnson. “So I went back and I wrote this 10-page thesis of why Apple should do stores, what they should be like, blah blah blah.”

“I get the call, ‘Hey, can you come back?’ I walk in, he goes, ‘Hey, thanks for coming back.’ I said, ‘So what’d you think of my thesis?’ And he goes, ‘Well, I don’t like it very much, but that’s OK. Let’s talk!’ That’s Steve. He offered me the job that day.”

Johnson also revealed that Jobs was initially very opposed to the idea of having Genius Bars in Apple retail stores.

“I remember the day I came in and told Steve about the Genius Bar idea and he says, ‘That’s so idiotic! It’ll never work!’ He said, ‘Ron, you might have the right idea, but here’s the big gap: I’ve never met someone who knows technology who knows how to connect with people. They’re all geeks! You can call it the Geek Bar.’”

But Johnson said that he convinced Jobs to agree to the Genius Bar idea by telling him, “‘Steve, kids who are in their 20s today grew up in a very different world. They all know technology, and that’s who’s going to work in the store.’”

The next day Jobs had the phrase “Genius Bar” trademarked, and the rest is history.

Source: Steve Jobs’s first reaction to the Genius Bar: ‘That’s so idiotic! It’ll never work!’
 

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