We lost one of the great business leaders and innovators of our lifetime. His sister’s eulogy captures his private life as a father, a husband and a brother. For me, Steve Jobs’ passing was the loss of a personal inspiration and an intense competitor (explained below). Everyone talks about Jobs’ amazing impact on various industries. And it’s true, Steve Jobs helped revolutionize so many industries. Here are just a handful of ideas Jobs turned into fruition that have changed the world we live in and how we function today:
- The Macintosh made computers seem easy. The little things we take for granted today like bringing the mouse mainstream.
- NeXT Computer made the laptop seem logical. I remember my college roommate saving for a year to buy a NeXT laptop. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to walk around with a computer.
- Pixar changed animation and Hollywood forever. Do you remember the hand drawn Disney cartoons? Compare them to what we have today.
- The iPod changed music forever. Here’s Jobs introducing the first iPod a decade ago. A far cry from our Sony Walkman CD days — you could only listen to one CD at a time, but that was highly evolved from our Walkman cassette days. Before my iPod, I had one MP3 player, I was able to load one CD on it, then I forgot how to do more. I’m kind of sick of Coldplay now.
- The iPhone changed phones forever. They do everything we dreamed about in Star Trek and more.
- The iPad made tablets mainstream. Here’s a clip of Jobs introducing the iPad to the world.
Each of these innovations alone would be an amazing accomplishment for one person in a lifetime. It is beyond unreal when you consider one person created all of these technological milestones in a sadly shortened life. Yet it wasn’t just Jobs’ ideas and innovations that made him an amazing man, it was much more…
Good Enough was Never Good Enough: Jobs was one of few people in the world who did not settle. He saw there was a better way, and he made it reality. Many people dream of a better world, not many do what it takes to make those dreams a reality. Most people settle along the way or let others that do not “get” the vision hijack and morph it into something less than amazing. Jobs’ will kept pushing on until the extraordinary was reality. His drive and persistence go unparalleled.
Constant Improvement: When Jobs first started Apple, he was not the rave success he is seen as today. His temper and micro-management were legendary. He evolved, learned to delegate, trust his team, and at his demise, Apple was one of the most respected companies in the world. Apple lost badly to Microsoft in the PC race, almost going bankrupt. Jobs was forced out of Apple.
Jobs’ Next venture again produced great technology and rave reviews, but no commercial success. Apple bought it back because they saw the technology and team Jobs had built. He learned that his other ideas were too expensive for the commercial markets, so he focused on an affordable consumer product, the iPod. Jobs worked with coaches his whole life to improve in communications and leadership. Jobs was as hard and demanding on himself as he was on his products.
Simplicity: Jobs understood that it takes hardwork and genius to make the complex “simple.” All of his products simplified something that was previously complex. Technology became safe to those that used to be intimidated.
I view him as a competitor for this very simple fact. Everything every company does from now on will have to live-up to the standards Jobs set. Everyone expects software to be “Apple Easy.” It should be intuitive and simple. It should just work. When we design our client software, it isn’t my industry competitors I’m going against in my mind, it’s Steve Jobs. I can only hope that by the day I die, I can make a fraction of the impact on our world that he did on his.
I leave you with Steve Jobs’ life lessons, in his own beautiful and prophetic words, about how death will face us all and knowledge should impact how we live each day.