“What does Steve Jobs tell us about leadership in the 21st century?”
That’s all Time Magazine‘s Rick Stengel had to ask Bill Clinton at a conference in Chicago on Oct. 11, 2011 — six days after Jobs’ death — to get the 42nd U.S. President started.
Clinton doesn’t really answer the question, except to say that he wasn’t sure Jobs’ leadership style wouldn’t have worked in the political arena “because you have to be somewhat more inclusive and you don’t have the same amount of authority without checks.” (Or as the late Jef Raskin said of Apple’s (AAPL) co-founder: “He would have made an excellent King of France.”)
Clinton goes on to talk about having breakfast with Jobs four days before the iPhone went on sale (“God, he was like a kid with a new toy”) and about Jobs’ long battle with the cancer that finally killed him.
“This cancer I have is very clever,” Clinton remembers Jobs telling him not long before he died. “I have beaten it back repeatedly. But I have fired all my ammunition, and it keeps coming up with new ways to attack me. I’m not sure I got any more weapons left, but I’ve had a good time trying to beat it.”
The most important lesson he learned from Jobs, Clinton says, is this: