Published in the Jan-Feb 2012 issue of MyLIFE magazine
What can you say or write about Steve Jobs that hasn’t already been said? Since his death on Oct. 5, the world’s most powerful and influential people have come forward with remembrances, thoughts and anecdotes regarding the life of Steve Jobs. To simply restate what others have said would be a gross injustice, a waste of ink, and the idea of my humble musings being cemented in the annals of history has slowed my normally fevered fingers across the keyboard of my MacBook Pro.
My friends and family know I have been an Apple junkie my whole life. No one ever asks IF I’ve purchased the latest iGadget, they simply ask to see it. So, when I somberly walked into work the day after his death, I was often asked how I was feeling. It was quite odd, mourning the loss of someone I’d admired for so long. When I learned of Michael Jackson’s death, I was saddened, and I even cried during the funeral, but this was much different, this was much deeper. I tried to explain to others just how I was feeling, and through the emotion this explanation came: “It’s like losing an uncle you’ve never met, who gives you amazing Christmas and birthday gifts.” Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Steve Jobs, it was like the loss of a family member whom you had grown up hearing stories about and who, like most uncles, enabled you to dream big and take chances.
One of the biggest reasons I felt impacted by the loss of Steve Jobs was his vision of what’s to come. The ability to see a block of marble and create David is an incredible talent in its own right, but the ability to see the physical manifestation of ideas and their interactions is something entirely different. It’s uncanny when you look back at how often Jobs was told “that will never work” or “what a dumb idea,” and yet he ended up being right. People said in 1976 that personal computers would never catch on. Others said when Toy Story came out in 1995 that no one would watch computer-animated movies. Still others doubted the omission of a floppy drive on the first iMac in 1998, the opening of retail stores (just after 9/11) and the introduction of iPods in 2001, the iPhone with no Flash in 2007 and the iPad in 2010.
Who knows what else could be added to that list in the future. Does Jobs have, as he always said, “just one more thing” left waiting in the wings? Many people think it’s a television set, with a voice-activated user interface. And while that would be amazing, it would be too simple—it wouldn’t be Apple. Where’s the revolution? If there’s one thing Steve Jobs taught us, it was that if you’re not going to radically re-think, re-design and re-engineer something, don’t waste your time.
Steve Jobs and his team at Apple changed the way the world views and interacts with technology. From the first Apples to the iPad, there is a progression, a breaking down of barriers to how we view technology and its place in our lives. The first Apple computers simply helped us accomplish tasks but were elegant enough to be visible fixtures in our homes, not tucked away in an office corner or bedroom. Jobs thought that making computers perform functions that inspired creativity, art and music created a bond between man and machine that nothing else could do. Perhaps we have it backwards— maybe Jobs’ greatest idea was that he wanted those who used his products to change the world, instead of changing the world with his products.
At some point we all want to score the game-winning shot, hit the walk-off homer, rescue the damsel in distress, discover something never before seen, rock the stage to a sold-out arena or walk the red carpet. Perhaps the loss of Steve Jobs is difficult for us because we remember, at some point, we wanted to change the world. So often we get caught up in the myth that all good ideas are being formulated in billion dollar research labs and think tanks. But, take a moment to think about where your tech company of choice began—in a basement, a garage or maybe a dorm room—and remember, before we knew their names, they were afraid. Before they made millions, they made burgers. Before we listened to them, they listened to us. So, here’s to the crazy ones….
Thank you, Steve.