Doug Menuez is a professional photographer who’s done editorial assignments for publications including Time, Newsweek and Life magazine.
From the 1980s to 1990s, Menuez documented the early years of some of the biggest tech titans in Silicon Valley. Among them was Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
When Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985, he gave Menuez the opportunity to document what was happening inside his new company NeXT.
For the next three years, Menuez followed Jobs around and watched him build a company from the ground up.
“My memory is the first time meeting him was going out to the NeXT. I was very nervous. I was gonna meet him to get final approval to do my project, and I got there early. Then Steve came down the stairs just in a rush of energy and looked at me, and they said, “This is Doug. He’s gonna do this thing,” and he looked at me and smiled, shook my hand and said, “Great!” then walks away. That was it. I just started working and shooting. When I didn’t shoot much I walked around and met everybody.”
“[Steve] was so passionate about the goal and trying to invent something impossible that everyone had to be on this mission to Mars, and if you weren’t on the mission you didn’t need to be here.”
(Steve’s “to-do” list during a company brainstorming session for NeXT.)
“A lot of those super smart people will tell you it can’t be done, because in their experience, from all they’ve learned, it’s not possible. So if you’re in a room with Steve and someone is telling him, ‘Well, this is gonna cost too much and this can’t be done,’ he would just beat them with the club until they did what he wanted and rised above their own talent, and people would finally figure it out.”
(Steve Jobs laughing at a joke told by an employee on the bus going back to their office)
Drawing from his experience, Menuez compares the entrepreneurs of today and yesterday:
“The people in the past I found to be the most successful had a value system that was very driven by the idea to improve human life. They wanted to contribute something meaningful. It was exciting and joyful to invent something unique, new and really cool. It was just a sheer joy of invention, but they really did have this altruistic bend that the technology would help improve lives. Now, I think you have more emphasis on making money, and that’s because the investment cycle is so much shorter. People wanna get their money faster so there’s a real emphasis on that.”
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from Steve Jobs’ journey is seeing how much it took him to build something incredible.
“Steve [Jobs] failed for 10 years; he struggled and failed and he was humiliated by the press after he left Apple. A lot of people today don’t realize it. They know how successful he is today, but they don’t realize how hard he worked to make the comeback.”