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Steve Jobs's Shoe

The unvarying outfit—jeans, black mock turtleneck, New Balance sneakers—let Steve Jobs save precious minutes each morning, leaving more time to think about Apple (AAPL). The shoes were one piece of the puzzle that made Jobs Silicon Valley’s Everyman, the only tech corporate chieftain who seemed to really understand his customers when they were off being their true selves, rather than wearing wing tips. The shoes were functional, too: When he really needed to turn his “reality distortion field” to its highest intensity, he would invite someone for a two- or three-hour walk. After being booted from Apple in 1985, Jobs recruited favored employees to his startup NeXT; at his Woodside mansion, they took long strolls around the leafy enclave. When he moved to more family-friendly Palo Alto, he could be seen by observant neighbors persuading former Apple Chief Executive Officer Gil Amelio to buy beleaguered NeXT (1996), wooing record industry executives to license their music to run on the iPod, or simply walking down the street to the nearby Apple Store for the launch of the iPhone (2007).

Burrows is a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, based in San Francisco.

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