Asked at a tech conference to name his hero, Google exec chairman Eric Schmidt told interviewer Sal Khan (of Khan Academy) that the answer came immediately to mind.

For me, it’s easy: Steve Jobs […] When I look at what he achieved in terms of impact on society, we could all aspire to be a small percentage of Steve.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California’s Silicon Valley event , Schmidt said that while the competition between Google and Apple had not always made things easy, it worked out because they shared a mutual respect. Jobs was, he said, an exceptional person, and they are always worth spending time with “because there’s a good chance they’ll change the world.”

Schmidt served on Apple’s board from 2006 to 2009, at which point he resigned due to increasing competition between the two companies.

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