In 2000, when Apple hired Ron Johnson to create and run its first retail stores, Johnson got a crash course in working with Steve Jobs.
The two men “clicked from Day One,” Johnson recalled on the latest Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, and when he was interviewing for the position, Jobs gave him some homework.
“He said to me, ‘It’s Thanksgiving weekend coming up. Why don’t you write down what you would do? How would you approach retail? Tell me about it,’” Johnson said. “So I went back and I wrote this 10-page thesis of why Apple should do stores, what they should be like, blah blah blah.”
“I get the call, ‘Hey, can you come back?’” he added. “I walk in, he [Jobs] goes, ‘Hey, thanks for coming back.’ I said, ‘So what’d you think of my thesis?’ And he goes, ‘Well, I didn’t like it very much, but that’s okay. Let’s talk!’ That’s Steve. He offered me the job that day.”
Arguably the centerpiece of what became the Apple Store is the Genius Bar, one of Johnson’s ideas. Customers can take private lessons in how to use their new Apple products, or take existing products in for tech support and repairs.
Jobs hated the idea.
“I remember the day I came in and told Steve about the Genius Bar idea and he says, ‘That’s so idiotic! It’ll never work!’” Johnson said. “He said, ‘Ron, you might have the right idea, but here’s the big gap: I’ve never met someone who knows technology who knows how to connect with people. They’re all geeks! You can call it the Geek Bar.’”
“And I said, ‘Steve, kids who are in their 20s today grew up in a very different world. They all know technology, and that’s who’s going to work in the store.’”
The next day, Steve called Apple’s general counsel to trademark the phrase “Genius Bar.”
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.