Thursday, February 2, 2012

You rang, Mr. Jobs?

I'm shuttling between two books right.

On my buddy Rob Schwartz's recommendation, I'm reading Tough Jews, a rough and tumble account of the Jewish gangsters who roamed the streets of Brooklyn at the turn of the century and had the world by the short hairs.  While their deeds and actions were abhorrent, it is a refreshing contrast to their weak hearted brethren who stayed behind in Europe and willfully walked straight into the gas chambers.

It's also weird to read the exploits of one Benny Siegel, who according to my grandfather was a distant relative. I have no reason to believe that since no one in my family was ever rich or ever feared. Plus, my grandfather was an inveterate liar.

The other book, Steve Jobs, was given to me by my wife. This book is tougher to get through because I have the urge to fast forward to the good parts about my alma mater Chiat/Day and many of the characters I know on a first name basis. This book also serves to remind me of a fateful decision I made in 1998. A decision that literally could have changed the course of my career and my life.

There was a lot of political turmoil at the agency. Leaders were coming and going. Silo chiefs were battling it out for turf. And the agency was growing by leaps and bounds. I had just come off a huge success with the ABC client and the honeymoon with the client was starting to wear thin.

It was at this point that my boss, Lee Clow, approached me and asked if I had any interest in switching over to the Apple account. They were looking for a seasoned writer who would work closely with Steve Jobs and steward the brand into the next century.

Lee framed it as the opportunity of a lifetime and would not accept an answer until I slept on it. Over a weekend. The funny thing is he knew of my past troubled history writing for Apple when the account was at BBDO in the early 90's. He promised things would be different. And maybe they would have, but I'll never know because that following Monday I declined the offer.


Well, after so many years in the business I was finally finding my own voice as a writer. I wasn't ready to silence that and become the voice of Steve Jobs, as lucrative as that might have been.

More importantly, after talking with Rob Siltanen and Ken Segall, two of the finest writers who've ever worked with Jobs, I became intimately familiar with Steve's fits of fury. Nor did I have any interest in wearing a beeper or being on call to the job 24/7/365. Though in retrospect this would have made me privy to many cool Apple secrets, which with a little financial savvy, could have been turned into a small fortune.

But in the end, I could not see myself as Steve's personal copy manservant. Mostly because I have authority issues and have a hard time doing as I'm told.

Maybe my grandfather was right, maybe I am related to Bugsy Siegel.

1 comment:

george tannenbaum said...

When you're reading "Tough Jews," remember me to Tick Tock Tannenbaum.