Buffett or Jobs?

It took me more than 6-months each to read The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life few years ago, followed by Steve Jobs biography last year. Though, I reached the end of Steve Jobs’s bio, 50% of the book is still unread.

Then last week, I read two great articles, one in Wired magazine critiquing Steve Jobs’s ‘social-etiquettes-are-for-the-weak‘ style, titled, The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale? followed by Fortune magazine’s feature on See’s candies (the iPad version has audio/video of Buffett) which alluded to Warren Buffett’s ‘always-looking-for-a-situation-to-crack-a-joke‘ management style.

Here are two great leaders whose works are impregnated into the minds of the entrepreneurs and are tested during trying times, and then with opposing styles.

I personally get conflicted of which approach is better. Some of the thoughts I keep pondering:

  • Do you hire a missionary or mercenary?
  • Empathy with people or metric-driven connectedness?
  • Products over dead bodies?
  • Micro-management vs. trusting your team?
  • Honest with your opinion or diplomatic?
  • Arrogance vs humility when dealing with employees vs customers?

Over the years, I have learnt that no single approach wins, and more than that it’s a matter of personal style, your own temperament, etc. However, we always look for case-studies in testing times. We learn from others and their mistakes. The challenge is which one to adopt and how do I know a specific behaviour is suited for a personal style.

Time will tell, but the torrent of conflict continues and the quest for wisdom is hungrier than never before.

Off-topic: I seriously feel that Walter Isaacson should do a bio on Buffett.


  • Good questions, which will remain good questions always. Are they not all situation dependent though. There’s really no right answer all the time right? You weigh the pros, cons and hopefully make enough mistakes to learn.

  • Santosh AR

    Since you questioned empathy vs. metric driven connectedness, it suggests you are inclined towards empathy and finding it hard to figure out where to apply metrics here. In my experience, choice is driven by personality. I know people who are “metrics driven connectedness” but don’t ask this question at all. Its in their dna to do only that. Very valid questions. leaves me pondering more.

    • Can you do both? Challenge sometimes is figuring out situationally which one works better.

  • As with all other things in life, refer to Yogi Berra – “I came to a fork in the road, so I took it”

    I am not sure if you have noticed this but it has become super difficult to be yourself lately. What with experts of all stripes recommending what to do and how to do, it has become difficult to detach yourself from the noise and go with that imperfect but honest ‘you’ 🙂 

    • That’s profound. Totally agree. The noise has been greater than before amplified and over-marketed.