What Would Steve Jobs Do? Make it "Insanely Great"
Thank you, Steve Jobs. Here's to the crazy ones… Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Think Different.
I had come home from a wake of a long time friend of mine. His death was sudden and unexpected. I was in disbelief that we lost him so quickly. It wasn't long after I checked Google+ to see what was going on while I was away and to distract my attention from the loss of a friend. To my surprise, there it was... people posting story after story about Steve Jobs. Just returning from my good friend's wake and knowing Steve Jobs' health had been declining for some years now, I feared the worst.
Even though each posting and related article read like a eulogy, the fact of the situation was all the postings were in reaction to Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO of Apple. What a relief, I don't think I could had taken two deaths at the same time.
While many were treating his resignation almost as a death, having just experienced the death of a close friend, it gave me some perspective on it. Steve Jobs did not die, he more or less made the fact that he was not performing as a CEO, official. He had been on an indefinite medical leave since January if I recall correctly. Still trying to come to terms with my friend's death, I simply stated that Steve Jobs did an outstanding job as CEO which no one could deny and I had wished him well and good health (or rather better health). That said, I knew in the back of my mind it may not be too long before these eulogy-type articles were actual eulogies. Little did I ever think it would be about six weeks later though.
I last saw Steve Jobs take the stage at Apple's WWDC in June with the iOS 5 announcement. I did not attend in person. Steve did seem a bit weak there and perhaps even thinner than before… No, actually the last time I saw him was shortly after WWDC this year, he appeared before a Cupertino, California town board presenting a proposal for Apple's additional new headquarters building, one that resembles a huge spaceship. Again, I was not there in person, but I had watched the video from this hearing.
So when did I exactly meet Steve Jobs? I didn't. Yes, I fall into that massive category of people that somehow feel connected to him on a certain level without ever having met him. If you think this is peculiar, think back to when we lost John Lennon (if you're old enough) and how so many people were affected by his passing. I feels like I lost an old friend, though not on the same level of loosing a friend which you were actually friends with of course. Remember, I had just went through loosing a real friend a few weeks ago. Even though there is connection felt, let me be clear that I am not confusing that with people who actually knew him personally, his family, friends, and co-workers. My heart and condolences goes out to those directly affected.
Steve Jobs had been on my radar at varying degrees for the last 20 years or so. In fact, it was 20 some odd years ago that there may had been an opportunity to interview him. This was long before he came back to Apple. I was a SysOp (System Operator) for a BBS (Bulletin Board System) I ran… In fact, the BBS wasn't being run an Apple computer at the time, it was on an old Atari 8-bit system. A SysOp of another BBS that mine had networked with at the time was working on obtaining an interview with Steve Jobs. Unfortunately, it never panned out. The unique thing was if this would had taken place, we would had interviewed him about his time he spent at Atari, not Apple. Strange it is seems now, we were Atari computer geeks at the time. I was still a few years off before I switched the BBS to a Mac.
Being a tech geek and I finally having made it to the Mac (20 years ago now, essentially leaving Atari and Amiga computers behind), Jobs had always been out there peripherally for me. I never had a NeXT computer (Steve Jobs' other computer company he started after leaving Apple). I love Pixar and Toy Story, it wasn't until he returned to Apple in 1997 that Steve Jobs really directly influenced the systems I were using on a daily basis. I had been using the Mac and other Apple products (i.e. Newton) for years before Jobs returned to Apple, none of them would had existed if it weren't for Jobs earlier work and co-founding Apple. When Jobs returned to Apple, there was this energy, enthusiasm, and hope that he infused the company and its many loyal users with at the time. I could even forgive him for killing off production of my beloved Newton (I do agree that Apple had been going the wrong direction with the Newton at the time before Steve returned... making it bigger and creating a Newton eMate while I wanted something smaller, not bigger. Little did I know then that years later, Steve would give me something smaller with the Apple iPhone).
Beyond all this, what is this "relationship" I and many others like myself had Steve Jobs. Beyond the fact that if it wasn't for Apple, I don't know if Art Trap Productions would be doing what it is today. I believe there is much one can learn from Steve Jobs.
Though I must admit that as much as I respected what he was able to accomplish, there is a repeatedly reported aspect about him pushing his people too hard to meet his idea of perfection (or "insanely great"). It has been said he had a knack of cutting people down if they didn't meet his goals. I am not sure how true this was in his later years, but you can see this behavior depicted in the film 'The Pirates of Silicon Valley' as well as spoken about by people who worked with him during those years in various documentaries about Apple and/or Steve Jobs.
While I do agree that the end goal should be "insanely great" products, I don't believe berating people would be the way to achieve those goals. Again, I don't know if this was the case after he returned to Apple or not. Often the tech community would joke about if something went wrong during a Steve Jobs keynote that the person responsible would probably be out of a job the next day, but it was just talk. The reality of the situation may had been much different. To my understanding the Apple employee who lost his iPhone 4 test unit (or had it taken from him) at a bar in 2010 prior to its release, is still working for Apple if I am not mistaken.
After Steve Jobs died I wasn't sure what I could write here that could encompass how I felt or what I would write about him. Yes, I know there are countless written articles and more articles coming about what made Steve Jobs great and so forth. I didn't want to retread what others have already written.
While I don't know if any of the preceding makes any sense or perhaps it just me babbling on about Steve Jobs without any real direction. Maybe it is just therapeutic for me now after his death.
I have drawn much inspiration from Steve Jobs. I never tried to mimic him, but sometimes simply asking yourself, "What would Steve Jobs do?" can give you strength to accomplish tasks that may seem daunting otherwise. Now even though I find myself mourning his passing, I am still determined to make this into something positive.
Steve Jobs summed it up best himself if his 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address. If you are among the 2 or 3 people left today who has not seen or heard the speech, below you can find the video of it.
In that speech, he makes some points that touch upon values I had also always believe in myself. If I may, I will highlight a few passages from that speech which hit home for me.
"I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."
"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
Definitely words to live by, as Steve Jobs did himself. I will remind myself of it regularly going forward. What better way to honor Steve Jobs and to honor my own life. Thank you, Steve.
Full text of his speech can be found here. Below is the video.
You may have seen the Apple Think Different ad campaign which included this ad, "Here's to the crazy ones…" which had actor Richard Dreyfuss narrating it. Here is the unaired version of the same ad with Steve Jobs doing the narration. I always loved the 'Think Different' ad campaign. It struck a chord with me. I believe you can learn something about how Jobs thought as well through this campaign.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Think Different.
Photo credit: Steve Jobs holding the white iPhone is by Matt Yohe. All other color photos by Louis Trapani, all shot on an Apple iPhone.