Vic Gundotra on Steve Jobs’ attention to detail

Thu, Aug 25, 2011

Featured, News

Vic Gundotra is a Senior VP at Google where he works on social business initiatives and mobile applications. In a post on Google+, Gundotra relays a charming story about one of his many interactions with Jobs.

The backdrop:

Gundotra in early January was at a religious service when he got a call from an unknown number. He ignored the call, but when he checked the resulting message it was from Steve Jobs. The message said, “Vic, can you call me at home? I have something urgent to discuss.”

So Gundotra called Jobs back and this is what went down.

“Hey Steve – this is Vic”, I said. “I’m sorry I didn’t answer your call earlier. I was in religious services, and the caller ID said unknown, so I didn’t pick up”.

Steve laughed. He said, “Vic, unless the Caller ID said ‘GOD’, you should never pick up during services”.

I laughed nervously. After all, while it was customary for Steve to call during the week upset about something, it was unusual for him to call me on Sunday and ask me to call his home. I wondered what was so important?

“So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I’ve already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow” said Steve.

“I’ve been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I’m not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn’t have the right yellow gradient. It’s just wrong and I’m going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?”

Of course this was okay with me. A few minutes later on that Sunday I received an email from Steve with the subject “Icon Ambulance”. The email directed me to work with Greg Christie to fix the icon.

As a quick point of interest, Gregory Christie is the Director of Human Interface at Apple with a number of GUI patents to his credit, among others.

Gundotra closes with the lessons imported from that unexpected phone call on an otherwise uneventful Sunday in 2008.

But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I’ll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.

To one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever met, my prayers and hopes are with you Steve.



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