Steve Jobs, the late CEO at Apple, was a visionary and a super salesman and he developed Apple into a company that had more freaking’ money than the US government. He could be an asshole or a nice guy. He wasn’t noted for his people skills, and he would sometimes tell an Apple employee that his project was “shit”. He was more interested in results than massaging someone’s ego. That’s why we have the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone, and so many other really cool tech things that we wouldn’t have ever thought we needed until Apple came out with them.
What Steve meant by “shit” was that he thought the engineer/designer could do it better, more like what he had in mind when he envisioned a ground-breaking product like, say, the iPhone. And the guy, thinking that it was technologically impossible, would usually come up with something that was better, surpassing his perceived limitations, just what Steve wanted.
How could Steve get away with treating Apple employees like this? Why didn’t they tell him to fuck off and go somewhere else? Hell, with Apple on their resume they could probably get another gig anywhere.
They stayed because they were good people, “A people” as Steve liked to think of them, and “A people” know they’re good and that Steve’s observation wasn’t a reflection on their talent or ability, just an incentive, however crass, that could motivate them to come up with something truly awesome. “A people” don’t need to be stroked, was what he was thinking, I guess.
Some musicians are inordinately sensitive about the least little criticism of their playing. I’ve seen them pack up their shit and stalk out in the middle of a gig because somebody said they were too loud or too busy or whatever. These guys aren’t “A people”. What they are is guys who are just insecure about their playing.
Really good musicians, “A musicians”, don’t get all offended and pouty when a band leader or a producer or an artist wants them to play something different than what they had in mind. They know how good they are, and that they can play something else that’s gonna be great.
Frank Sinatra didn’t slaver all over his musicians, going on about how great they were. He had the best guys in the business backing him up, and he might introduce them on stage, which was just the professional thing to do, but they didn’t need to be stroked, because they were pro’s. They knew it and he knew it.
Everyone likes a compliment, but if you’re an “A musician” you shouldn’t need your ego stroked all the time, you should just do your job.