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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 07-Oct-11


Friday 07-October-11

Steve Jobs, Genius

The first computer I bought, in 1979, was an Apple II. I did a moonlight programming job for an estate agent and blew the whole ?2000 on a system complete with two floppy disks and a Pascal board. It was so much better than the competing Commodore PET and can now, rightly, be found in museums. Even then, the Apple was a thing of beauty. I even started a small software business called 'BITE', with the B and E as bites out of either side of an apple.

I'm not an Apple diehard, but I am still a fan. I'll admit to writing this on a PC, but there's an iPad at my side and an iPod elsewhere. And I'm lusting after the iPhone 4S, with its amazing Siri interface. Like millions of others, Steve Jobs touched not just my life -- he touched me. He made me feel. He taught me about aesthetics and the power of emotion in business.

As John Sculley, one-time Apple CEO, said recently, 'While everyone else sells technology, Apple sells magic.' He also noted that when Jobs recruited him from his top position in Pepsi, Jobs said 'Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or do you want to join me and change the world.' Steve Jobs did just that. He changed the world, which is proof sufficient of his genius.

Jobs apprecated the power of customer experience long before Pine and Gilmore wrote their seminal 'Experience Economy'. Like Walt Disney, he understood that experience is rooted in emotion, and how one negative emotion could pull the plug and destroy the sensation. This can be seen in the attention to detail not only in the products but also the box it comes in and the shops where you can buy them. From start to end, Apple customers are bathed in a consistently positive, magical glow.

Steve Jobs was one of those geniuses who understood both technology and business and broke the rules to create massive success. The former creative director of  Apple commented that he 'broke through the MBA barrier.' If you had an idea, he would quickly evaluate it and say 'do it'. It was this kind of immediacy that, in the early 80's Apple, got him a reputation of being a loose cannon and then got him fired (paradoxically engineered by Sculley). He was just faster than the careful MBA planner.

He saw what he wanted and was impatient to get it. He had no time for focus groups and other endless customer listening that would be incremental and present-focused. He had powerful visions of the future that customers would not understand until they experienced it, amazed, for themselves. While many started with the technology and then created products, he began with his desired experience and then worked back to the technology to create it.

Like other maverick visionaries such as Richard Branson, he had the critical skill of being able quickly size up people and surrounded himself with a team that has been the envy of the industry. Unlike some, he did not feel threatened by those who were better than him in some way. Quite the reverse, he sought great talent and inspired them to great things. He also did not suffer fools and if you did not perform, you did not last.

In a famous 2005 speech to Stanford students he urged them to find their passion and do what they love rather than just doing a job. He also passed sage comment on life and death. Perhaps we should give him the last word:

"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. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don?t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life?s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

"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."

Your comments

Genius..... yes David, but so young.

Also, recently in this neck of the woods, a Nobel laureate in medicine died hours before being awarded the prize. A month or so before, a noble political leader fought illness, injury and skepticism to make historic milestones in a federal election, only to succomb to an illness shortly after. All still realtively young.

One source said that Apple had more cash on hand than many governments. Money, intellect, education and popularity - they certainly add to life but are no substitute for it.

Living a humble life is no guarantee to living a long one but to the mourners of such great people there is a lot of virtue to the concept of(when possible) living to fight another day.

I was about to discard my old Apple II for lack of spare parts - I think now I might relent and keep my Classic Kit Style Computer AND my hobby?

-- Peter S.

RIP Steve Jobs! A great man who change the way world works! Can you imagine the world of today without iphones, ipads and other gadgets that Apple Inc and The Great Steve has given to us! Obviously Apple Inc product is not for mass and its for a class people only but still it has changed the technology world 360 degrees. And a man who changed the way world works must receive a salute from all people and if not from tech lovers for sure.

Ankur D

100% Right!!

-- Joshua M

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