How to Blow Someone Off Like Steve Jobs

September 20th, 2010

When most people associate Seve Jobs with self-help, they usually think of the commencement speech her gave at Sanford.  You remember the one, “stay hungry; stay foolish.”

But Steve has an even more important lesson to teach you: how to blow someone off.


Blow someone off?

Why would I need to know how to do that?

The answer is: there are times when you HAVE TO blow someone off.

Like when someone keeps asking you for a favor.  Mr. Favor constantly bothers you to do something,  Or Mr. I’m Broke who’s always asking you to do some work for free.  Anyone employed as a mechanic knows what I’m talking about.  All those times your Cousin Luke comes by and complains of “knocking” in his car and he wants you to have a look at it–for free.

You know the drill.

There are different ways to do this.  Many books out there will give you firm but polite ways to do tell someone to leave you alone.  But those books weren’t written by Steve “F’ing” Jobs.

In a recent article, there was an email exchange between a college student and Jobs.  The student was complaining that the Apple Media department wouldn’t give her a quote for her class paper.  Steve replied that it is not his company’s goal to get the student a good grade.

But the student was not deterred.  She kept emailing him about it.  Finally, Jobs replied with:

“Please leave us alone.”

I love that.  It’s straight to the point and leaves no doubt that he doesn’t want to be bothered again.

Most people are a little wishy washy when trying to blow someone off or make excuses like I’m too busy now..maybe later.  It’s the “maybe later” part that kills you every time, because Mr. Favor WILL come a-knockin’ later.

Don’t do it  You tell him: Please leave me alone.

Can you help me with this project?

Sorry, I can’t,

Oh, come on.  You have time.

Please leave me alone.

Think he’s coming back? Hell, no.

That’s all you’ve gotta do.  So, next time someone keeps bugging you, blow them off the Jobs way and tell them–Please leave me the hell alone!

You can read the whole e-mail exchange here:

The entire thread between Chelsea Kate Isaacs and Steve Jobs
(Read from the bottom up)

From: Steve Jobs
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 18:27:36 -0700
Subject: Re: Mr. Jobs – Student Journalist Concerned about Apple’sMediaRelations Dept.

Please leave us alone.

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 16, 2010, at 5:32 PM, wrote:

> You’re absolutely right, and I do meet your criteria for being a customer who deserves a response:
> 1. I AM one of your 300 million users.
> 2. I DO have a problem; I need answers that only Apple Media Relations can answer.
> Now, can they kindly respond to my request (my polite and friendly voice can be heard in the first 5 or 10 messages in their inbox). Please, I am on deadline.
> I appreciate your help.
> Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
> ——-Original Message——-
> From: Steve Jobs
> Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 17:10:12
> To:
> Subject: Re: Mr. Jobs – Student Journalist Concerned about Apple’s
> MediaRelations Dept.
> Nope. We have over 300 million users and we can’t respond to their requests unless they involve a problem of some kind. Sorry.
> Sent from my iPhone
> On Sep 16, 2010, at 4:37 PM, wrote:
>> Thank you for your reply. I never said that your goal should be to “help me get a good grade.” Rather, I politely asked why your media relations team does not respond to emails, which consequently, decreases my chances of getting a good grade. But, forget about my individual situation; what about common courtesy, in general —- if you get a message from a client or customer, as an employee, isn’t it your job to return the call? That’s what I always thought. But I guess that’s not one of your goals. Yes, you do have a creative approach, indeed.
>> Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
>> ——-Original Message——-
>> From: Steve Jobs
>> Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 16:19:13
>> To:
>> Subject: Re: Mr. Jobs – Student Journalist Concerned about Apple’s Media
>> Relations Dept.
>> Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry.
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> On Sep 16, 2010, at 3:22 PM, wrote:
>>> Dear Mr. Jobs,
>>> As a college student, I can honestly say that Apple has treated me very well; my iPod is basically the lifeline that gets me through the day, and thanks to Apple’s Final Cut Pro, I aced last semester’s video editing project. I was planning to buy a new Apple computer to add to my list of Apple favorites.
>>> Because I have had such good experiences as a college student using Apple products, I was incredibly surprised to find Apple’s Media Relations Department to be absolutely unresponsive to my questions, which (as I had repeatedly told them in voicemail after voicemail) are vital to my academic grade as a student journalist.
>>> For my journalism course, I am writing an article about the implementation of an iPad program at my school, the CW Post Campus of Long Island University.
>>> The completion of this article
>>> is crucial to my grade in the class, and it may potentially get published in our university’s newspaper. I had 3 quick questions regarding iPads, and wanted to obtain answers from the most credible source: Apple’s Media Relations Department.
>>> I have called countless times throughout the week, leaving short, but detailed, messages which included my contact information and the date of my deadline. Today, I left my 6th message, which stressed the increasingly more urgent nature of the situation. It is now the end of the business day, and I have not received a call back. My deadline is tomorrow.
>>> Mr. Jobs, I humbly ask why Apple is so wonderfully attentive to the needs of students, whether it be with the latest, greatest invention or the company’s helpful customer service line, and yet, ironically, the Media Relations Department fails to answer any of my questions which are, as I have repeatedly told them, essential to my academic performance.
>>> For colleges nationwide, Apple is at the forefront of improving the way we function in the academic environment, increasing the efficiency of conducting academic research, as well as sharing and communicating with our college communities.
>>> With such an emphasis on advancing our education system, why, then, has Apple’s Media Relations team ignored my needs as a student journalist who is just trying to get a good grade?
>>> In addition to the hypocrisy of ignoring student needs when they represent a company that does so much for our schools, the Media Relations reps are apparently, also failing to responsibly handle the inquiries of professional journalists on deadlines. Unfortunately, for a journalist in the professional world, lacking the answers they need on deadline day won’t just cost them a grade; it could cost them their job.
>>> Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
>>> Sincerely,
>>> Chelsea Kate Isaacs
>>> Senior
>>> CW Post – Long Island University
>>> Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

via Gawker


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