Mohammed Ali went head to head with Joe Frazier, Bill Gates with Steve Job, for Nikola Tesla there was Thomas Edison, and for Ernest Hemingway, there was William Faulkner. A lot of artists, world leaders, and outliers greatly benefitted from their rivalry with their counterparts. Take a look at one of the greatest business rivalries between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – the two most influential minds shaped the history of technology. When times were hard they struggled for motivation, yet they were stimulated by the achievements of the other. Competition can energize and motivate people. It makes us work harder and better, and rise to the challenge.
ONE OF THE GREATEST BUSINESS RIVALRIES
Founded in 1976 and 1975 respectively, Apple and Microsoft are the world’s two most valuable companies, according to Forbes. The rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates has been well documented through the years. In the fall of 1986, when Bill Gates showed up for a meeting at NeXT, Jobs left him waiting in the lobby for an hour, before we greeted the Microsoft co-founder. A few years later, he condemned Microsoft for making “third-rate products.” Gates claimed, “There’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it’,” in an interview in 2010.
In 2012, Apple was declared the most valuable company in the world. Steve Jobs hadn’t set out to create the most valuable company in the world; his rivalry was with Bill Gates. Jobs and Gates started out at the same age, at the same time, and in similarly humble circumstances. The result: Microsoft went on to create the world’s default OS ‘Windows’, and Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad.
The two great leader spent hours reminiscing together in the months before Jobs’ death, with Gates saying “We made great products, and competition was always a positive thing. There was no forgiveness.”
In 1997 Apple was looking at death. Microsoft stepped in to save them by investing $150 million in Apple shares. Why did Bill Gates choose to bail out Apple? We will never know! Perhaps, he needed Steve Jobs’ rivalry. It is widely known that they had great mutual respect and became friendly in the years before Jobs passed away.
BENEFITS OF A CREATIVE RIVALRY
It is important to remember that your rivalry doesn’t divert you from your own strengths. Which one is the greater inventor is debatable but both reached the height of their success by trying to be a cut above the other.
Dr. Greg Clydesdale of Massey University wrote in his 2006 analysis of the contribution of rivalry to the success of The Beatles. Moreover, Paul McCartney and John Lennon greatly benefited from their rivalry with one another.
Psychologists say negative feedback, such as taunts and goading from a rival, has the potential to both help and hinder our progress. Sometimes, healthy rivalries can turn into an obsession, especially if your rival consistently does better than you do. In the end, everything depends on how we handle the competition.
Embrace competition just like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did in their rivalry with one another. The presence of a rival is a good thing. It can make you strive to do better. Whatever you are, monitor your rivals progress with admiration, not with envy.