My Neighbor, Steve Jobs

This article first appeared in Palo Alto Patch.
He's More Than Just An IconMy neighbor, Steve Jobs, has been in the news lately. The talk of the town is the recent announcement he will be stepping aside to let other seeds grow at Apple. The business press, the general press, the blogosphere, and just about everybody else has waxed poetic about the “greatest CEO of all time” saying that this “boy wonder” has shaped the very nature of our lives with his genius. 

It’s all true, but here in Palo Alto, Steve Jobs isn’t just an icon, he’s also the guy who lives down the street.

I first met Steve (does anyone call him Mr. Jobs anymore?) years ago at a backyard pool party. I was so flummoxed by the off chance I was breathing in his DNA, I could barely say a word. I am sure I made a winning first impression as I stumbled over my own name when we were introduced.

I watched as he swam in the pool with his son. He seemed like a regular guy, a good dad having fun with his kids.

The next time I met him was when our children attended school together. He sat in on back-to-school night listening to the teacher drone on about the value of education (wait, isn’t he one of those high-tech gods who didn’t even graduate from college?) while the rest of us sat around pretending having Steve Jobs in the room was totally normal.

Not long after, I saw Steve as I was running in our neighborhood. He was deep in conversation with a younger version of himself — his very own mini-me in jeans, black tee-shirt, and wire-rimmed glasses. I must have looked like an idiot as I tripped over a crack in the pavement trying to give them wide berth.

It was at Halloween not long after when I realized he actually knew my name (yes, my name!). He and his wife put on a darn scary haunted house (to be specific, a haunted garden). He was sitting on the walkway, dressed like Frankenstein. As I walked by with my son, Steve smiled and said, “Hi Lisen.” My son thought I was the coolest mom in town when he realized The Steve Jobs knew me.

Thanks for the coolness points, Steve.

From then on, when I saw him holding his executive meetings in our neighborhood, I didn’t hesitate to smile and say hi. Steve always returned the favor, proving he may be a genius, but he is also a good neighbor.

In time, things changed. The walks were less frequent, the gait slower, the smile not so ready. Earlier this year when I saw Steve and his wife walking down our street holding hands, I knew something was different. Now, so does the rest of the world.

While Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal and CNET continue to drone on about the impact of the Steve Jobs era,  I won’t be pondering the MacBook Air I write on or the iPhone I talk on. I will think of the day I saw him at his son’s high school graduation. There Steve stood, tears streaming down his cheeks, his smile wide and proud, as his son received his diploma and walked on into his own bright future leaving behind a good man and a good father who can be sure of the rightness of this, perhaps his most important legacy of all.

Update: To all, thank you for your kind words and comments. You have expressed your affection and good wishes for the man and the icon, Steve Jobs, so beautifully. Our collective prayers are with him. Comments are now closed so I can focus on my own writing. With gratitude, Lisen Stromberg

150 responses to “My Neighbor, Steve Jobs

  1. What nice things to say. He is real after all!

  2. This is a great post. Thanks Lisen!

  3. studiohijaulumut

    so inspiring 🙂

  4. awww – you made me cry… he is the only case I am jealous of my husband’s attention to a man. We are Mac fanatics at our house since the beginning of times. And my husband worships Steve’s (I feel I know the guy at this point) ideas, persona, legacy. As for me, I always loved the idea that he catered to the left side of the brain thinkers – the different. Thanks for your post – beautiful!

  5. What a wonderful post. It’s easy to forget that Steve Jobs is more than just the face of Apple, but a person whose life is valuable beyond what he’s brought to the world of technology. I also love the fact that this is a part of your life. It sounds so surreal.

  6. wow! great post! it’s not everyday that we hear or read about his “human” side. thanks!

  7. Thank You for sharing this story, it is very touching. I am sad to see Steve Jobs go, and I hope that everything will end up just fine for him. He is in my prayers

  8. Excellent story-telling. It’s always nice to hear about the human side of CEO’s.

  9. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
    What really surprises me is those who read your article
    and then trashed it. This country is being taken over by
    whiners both in Washington and even in Palo Alto.
    People who are heartless, selfish, jealous and mean.
    I hope one day they will learn compassion and kindness.

  10. Nice story, i like your post. Congratulations on FP!

  11. Sweet & Sexy Reviews

    Just another reminder that people with fame and fortune are humans, too. Sometimes people forget that they make mistakes or do things wrong. Other times people forget that the have lives, families and issues of their own to deal with.

    This helps bring things into perspective.

  12. amazing blog about an amazing man – thank you!

  13. After literal decades of nothing but books talking about Steve being an inhuman monster…. this is so nice to read :’-)

  14. great perspective on a great man

  15. I became a Steve Jobs believer when I first read his Stanford University commencement address (2005?). I still keep a copy of that speech. This man is the John Lennon of infotech.

  16. Thanks for sharing. Easy read. Simple. Beautiful. 🙂

  17. Pues si algún día lo ves dile que me parece un tipo genial. Que pronto se va a recuperar de todo.

    Un abrazo grande para Steve

  18. cool story!!

  19. I want to thank the author of putting this post up. This allows others to see what life was really in its simplicity for, well, Mr. Jobs. Not from a commercial standpoint with problems, but as the guy next door.

  20. Best post of the MONTH!

  21. Increible histories. Frankenstein? Looks like a fun dad. 😉 Thanks for sharing, priceless memories …

  22. Nothing can tell more of a good man than loving tears rolling down his cheeks. God bless Steve. Thank you Lisen

  23. These anecdotes prove what I’ve always expected: everyone that Steve was ever rude to probably deserved it.

  24. Thanks for the post, it really brings to earth that we are all just mortals, Steve made everyone feel like they were somebody, and made everybody a somebody with his ideas and products.

  25. Don’t listen to the people who think this is boring. Me, as 13 years old, has a dad that checks up on the news daily and when I found out Steve Jobs was stepping down I was angry–because he worked so hard to create and now he’s handing it to someone who might not take care of it–and sad, but you have to do what you have to do to be alive. I hope he stays alive and I hope his son knows how lucky he is.

  26. I’ve always known that Steve is just a normal man parent and human, despite what his antagonists frequently claim and you proved it!
    Let’s hope he and his family gets through the hardships.

  27. Thanks for writing this and the insight into a regular man with an incredible legacy.

  28. thank you for sharing! at least, by your article, we have seen him having a normal life!! nice blog!!! c:

  29. This post makes me cry. Steve Jobs is such an icon. And from his speeches and his passion, I feel as if I know him. But, I don’t. I can only wish I had the opportunity to meet him. Thank you for giving this man a real face behind the machine!

  30. awww 😦 I almost passed this by….thought it was just another blog about Steve Jobs….but I am really glad I didn’t. thank you for a lovely post. I felt so sad reading it. We don’t often get to see the real people behind the big names and this painted a picture of the man rather than the image. lovely.
    thanks for sharing these little snippets.

  31. Wow. Thanks for this post. very heartwarming and informative…thanks again!

  32. This is such an inspiring read. I was introduced to this man about 5 years ago only through video and thought that this man was such a good story teller, i wish that he would read me any page of any book and it would be amazing. He is such an inspiration and this read is just as much so. Thank you for sharing

  33. What a fabulous tribute to such a great man. You made me realize I had never thought of him as a real person. He was just the guy in the black shirt and jeans pitching the never ending stream of tangible coolness that Apple produces. Thanks so much.

    And, he is a genius!

  34. A beautiful read about Steve Jobs and the beauty of fatherhood. (Just ignore the few oddball negative comments out there! They’re just jealous,ha!ha!)

  35. thank you Lisen for a beautiful piece.It’s the first time I’ve ever read anything that’s been written about a neighbor. Thank you for taking notice of a very overlooked subject.

  36. Congratulations on your Freshly Pressed status! I couldn’t help but note the photo you used was the same I used on my own post today — also about “Steve”, the Greatest of our Time.

    I really enjoyed reading of your personal perspective on the icon, but better yet, the neighbor … the man Steve Jobs.

    Thanks for sharing!


  37. Nice post. It’s amazing the man can still have some semblance of a “normal” suburban culdesac life being such an icon. There’s something special about Palo Alto. I was born in Mountain View and it’s always nice to get back to the area.

  38. Great post. Love the small glimpse into the personal life of such an influential man. Thanks.

  39. This is defenitely a heartwarming piece of writing…Thank you! It is good to learn about such positive world influential people who still have proven to be simple, everyday, loving people. May God bless Steve Job and his family.

  40. Great Article! Very well written

  41. This is defenitely a heartwarming piece of writing…Thank you!

  42. Thanks so much for this post. I enjoyed reading about Steve “the man”. All too often we’re obsessed with trivial stuff and not what’s really important. A person’s humanity is always much more interesting and hopeful. Somehow reading this post about the human being was much more satisfying to read than all the other recent articles about the icon.

  43. I’m not a fan, I’m not into Apple.

    But get well soon, man.

  44. Great story!

  45. I once rubbed my own elbows with someone famous. I was at Baskin Robbins and Screech from Saved By The Bell was in front of me and ordered a double scoop of Jamoca Almond Fudge in a sugar cone. When he got his ice cream he turned around and I was in his path, much like New York City was in the path of Hurricane Irene. Screech said, “excuse me man” and walked on.

    Ok, it’s not exactly like your connection to Steve Jobs, but I just wanted to brag.

    Great post and congrats on being Freshly iPressed, I mean Freshly Pressed.


  46. Wow very interesting, I very much enjoyed reading this! I have always admired Steve Jobs thank-you for posting.

  47. Nice new perspective! Thanks for the post.

  48. Awesome! Well done, Lisen.

  49. Very thoughtful and touching post.
    Steve Job is a legend!

  50. Janet Anderson

    *well said

  51. Good story, thank you for sharing.

  52. C’est justement ça, être un vrai génie!

  53. What a great story! It’s good to know that fame and fortune doesn’t go to everyone’s head!

  54. Pingback: A Man of Uncompromising Vision, Steve Jobs Is Still… Kind of a Sweet Guy [Steve Jobs] | Blog05

  55. Great read. Thank you.

  56. Thanks for sharing this lovely side of Steve. Now we know he is not only a genius in business, but a loving husband and father. I wish you both the best.

  57. I thought He’s from the other galaxy, but i know realized He’s a human just like me:) great story, thank You Lisen. Greetings from Poland (galaxy Europe;)

  58. Great post, a breath of fresh air aside from all of the other Jobs posts regarding how well Apple will do in a “post-Jobs” era. Beautifully written.

  59. Bravo.

  60. LIsen, as soon as I started reading this, I knew it was written by a woman:-) Your intuition and empathy are what lights up your writing. This is a beautiful piece, and reflects the way many women feel watching Jobs’ life. The day he stepped down, my grown daughter, who never met him before in her life but is a designer and brand strategist who watches closely how he designs everything, wrote him an email thanking him for being in her life.

  61. area 2 clothing

    I guess you can say he drew inspiration from his family, otherwise Pixar wouldn’t be what it is now, and Apple might not have been as family oriented as it poses it to be. This was a great read. Thanks for sharing.

  62. a very nice read. 🙂

  63. Very good post, fun read and very interesting, I really enjoyed it. How interesting would it be to have some like that as your neighbor? Thanks for sharing.

  64. brillant and heartfelt read.
    Turely lovely post.

  65. Thanks Lisen for this closer look at this very amazing and privite family man.

    As I wrote, regarding your post, no title, be it “the world’s greatest CEO” or what have you, could ever be as wonderful as being described as being a “great husband, or a great dad”.

  66. Lovely post, Listen. He is sure a man with a code. 🙂

  67. Thank you. A great read. Everybody knows about Steve Jobs whoc changed computer worlds with his Mac and NextStep, personal gadgets/music worlds with iPod and iTunes, mobile worlds with iPhone, animation world with Pixar …but it’s so informative to read about him as about just a normal person who is your neighbour

  68. What kind of garbage is this?, cheesy as hell.

  69. Great story about a great man. It’s cool to see another side of Steve. Thanks for sharing.

  70. Well done Lisen; thanks for sharing.

  71. Steve Jobs the icon is one thing. Steve Jobs the executive is something else. Steve Jobs the neighbor isn’t a perspective I’ve seen before. And that makes it easier to think of Steve Jobs as a human being.

  72. Thank you Lisen for an incredible touching article. I plan of following your blogs more often. I hope you didn’t mind the comments I made to some of the idiots who commented. You’re the best and I’m glad I took the time to read. Steve Jobs is an incredible leader and visionary and he followed up on his motto….”Changing the world…one person at a time.”

  73. I really enjoyed this read. Thanks!

  74. Pingback: A Man of Uncompromising Vision, Steve Jobs Is Still… Kind of a Sweet Guy [Steve Jobs] «

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  77. Juan Antonio Muñoz

    Steve should know his legacy won’t have time or frontiers of any kind. It’s a good time to live his life and to probe the world and himself his very last most important legacy as CEO: that Apple turn itself greater than what it is today because of what he did.

  78. Thanks Lisen. I only met Steve Jobs when he came to speak to our class in business school. I think the title the professor gave was “visionary”. I’m sure I sat in the front row enamored by the intensity of his speaking and this amazing charisma he possessed. I’m sure he would put that much energy into his parenting and his family as well. I hope he gets to spend as much quality time together with them now.

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  80. this whole thing can be summarized as “I live sort of close to Steve Jobs this one time he said hi he is normal you guise!!!! k bai!!!” #zzZZZzzzZz

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  82. Interesting, very good read, nice1.

  83. Really nice post. I’m a young geek from Spain, and here we are very sad about the “division” of Steve. I only want that his health improves.

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  85. I can’t help wondering how the famously private Steve feels about your writing about his evident frailty walking around what he might want to consider the privacy of the street where he lives.
    Did you ask his permission to publish this?

  86. have some respect

  87. Pingback: A Man of Uncompromising Vision, Steve Jobs Is Still… Kind of a Sweet Guy [Steve Jobs] | Ooxo

  88. Very nice. I’m glad to know he’s not just an awesome CEO.

  89. This is total rubbish.

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  91. What a lovely post Lisen. Thanks for this.

  92. Thank you for reminding us that all of us are human beings with normal lives, no matter how much fame the rest of the world wants to put upon them. It’s clear that you were a good neighbor, too.

    Thank you so much for giving us perspective.

  93. Great read. Thank you for humanizing one of the most popular people of our time.

  94. Thank you for sharing this.

  95. I realized that you’re kind of talking about him like’s dead…

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  97. Just want to say thank you, i could image also on behalf of “Steve”, if i may say so to speak.
    I hope and wish he and his family have a lot of time together in an open space without intrusions nobody is waiting for.

  98. Thanks for putting a human face on a public figure.

  99. Lisen (may I? We’re internet neighbors), this is such a beautiful post. Thanks, I’ll watch this whole story differently now.

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  102. Very nice read! Thanks for sharing this. It’s easy to forget the private life that a public figure tries to live as well.

  103. Thank you for sharing, Lisen. Great post. In the end, we are all ordinary people going about our lives. Some of us are more visible than others but so what? Does it matter?

  104. It’s lovely to have this kind of angle on the life of a genius in our time. Thank you for this.

  105. Very nice, it seems as though you are a good neighbor also.

  106. It just proves that legends are still people.

  107. Pingback: En mand af Kompromisløs Vision, Steve Jobs er stadig … Kind af en sød fyr [Steve Jobs] | PCTV

  108. Thank you for your reflections on Steve Jobs, the person, father, husband and neighbor. It was a wonderful read.

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  110. You’re so right. The the “greatest CEO of History” is a person with feelings and a private life, too.

  111. Santiago Lezica

    Touching post. Perhaps because I have a family story of my own, but this really got to me. Thank you for sharing.

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  113. Nicely done.

  114. Very cool to hear about Steve in this light. It’s way better than hearing about all of these health rumours and speculations. Thanks!

  115. Beautifully put.

  116. Great reflection. Thanks so much for your kind words and quality memories of such a great man. I’m sure when he reads this, he will be honored to have had you as a neighbor.

  117. Great reflection. Thanks for your kind words about such an incredible man.

  118. Nice read…..a very different perspective….appreciate the use of words and emotions here!

  119. Erik Nieuwenhuis

    Nice, but you shouldn’t write this in a blog. I think it’s kind of private. Living in Steve Jobs’ neighbourhood should be enough.

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  122. Maybe he smiled less as he calculated you to be a privacy invader.

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  124. J.D. Remington

    The last paragraph got me. Great read!

  125. What a wonderful post, Lisen. Thanks.

  126. A touching reminder of our day to day life and how we interact with people. Thank you for your post.

  127. This is a great post, showing the kind of respect the man should get at this moment!

  128. This was an amazing take on Steve Jobs. Thank you for this, I really appreciate it. Can’t say it any better than you have.

  129. Nice anecdote, so often we forget he was not only the “greatest CEO of all time,” but also a family man. I sincerely hope his health improves so he can watch his son graduate from college and that you can continue to wave “hello” to him.

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  131. Lisen-
    Great post. Too often we stand in awe without remembering the humanity of those who have become icons.
    – Dan

  132. Pingback: “A good man and a good father” ((tag: Steve Jobs, Lisen Stromburg) « legomac

  133. Close to Perfection! This must be the very first article on Steve (Ya, I too prefer addressing him that way!) which I have come across that is not Fanboy-ish type! Liked it and Loved it!!

  134. Having dropped my 8th grade daughter at school today, I can wholeheartedly endorse your closing sentence. Great stuff.

  135. I also wrote a small piece on Sunday night about “Mr.” Jobs and his influence on my thinking and I would offer, on the thinking of other business types like myself. I never stopped to consider the husband and the father and Steve Jobs the neighbor! Thanks “Ms.” Lisen for this special perspective. It was a great read! Jeff

  136. Best article i’ve read since last week. Genius are normal guys. Thanks Lisen.

  137. I was devastated when I saw the latest pictures of him. I’d like to send him and his family my best wishes, a lot of strength and quality time together.

  138. Very sweet, thoughtful post.

  139. Thank you for the lovely story.

  140. Pingback: My Neighbor, Steve Jobs (via Lisen’s “Blog” – An Angle of PrismWork) | Mind Journal