In January 2000 at Macworld in San Francisco, Mark Zimmer and I were in the process of wrapping up a press tour for Metacreations Painter 6.1. At trade show events such as this, there are often small press rooms reserved for companies in which to conduct interviews. Mark, myself, and our PR person were in our press room preparing for the day's interviews with the Mac press. As I remember it, the PR person was organizing press materials and Mark and I were busy setting up a Mac on which to demo Painter.
Suddenly, a head popped into the doorway. It was Steve. No entourage or posse. Just Steve. Initially, I was the only one of us who saw him. In the most casual voice I could muster, I said, "Hi, Steve!".
"Hi guys! I just wanted to pop in and say, 'Break a leg!'", he said. We thanked him, wished him a good show and Steve was gone as quickly as he appeared.
Our PR person was absolutely floored. "That...that was Steve Jobs!...OMG!"
Mark and I managed to play it cool and say something like, "Oh...yeah...Steve."
That would be the end of my story except for one small factoid I possessed at the time: Mark previously confided in me that Steve had been in contact with him regarding working for Apple. Steve Jobs has long been known for his finesse at cherry-picking world-class talent. Mark was—and is—one of the brightest engineering pixel-slingers out there.
I've no doubt that Steve's brief appearance at our press booth door was designed to provide a small nudge to Mark in the direction of Apple, but it also provided a snapshot into Steve's inner-workings. The man is always thinking in terms of how to better Apple. Something as small as a quick "Good luck" certainly made our day and see the man devoid of ego...just another Mac-head wishing us well.
By the way, Steve's elixir worked its magic. Three years later, Mark became a Software Development Engineer at Apple, where he works today.