For any of you who read this regularly you may be aware that at times I have trouble sleeping. That’s not technically true, I have trouble getting to sleep but once there I am generally a pro-sleeper. Last night was an exception. I read something that annoyed me and stomped off to bed a little before 10pm. My intention was to read but actually was asleep fairly quickly. The consequence of this has been to be awake at 3.30am and having checked Twitter and seen the news with respect to Steve Jobs I am sat here at 4.30am feeling compelled to write.
I first saw an Apple computer when I was in primary school. It was an Apple 2e and looked like a cream box with a green screen. It was to me at that age fairly useless apart from the fact it had a game on it called “Lemonade” where you could run your own Lemonade stand and myself and my friend James (whose Dad had bought the computer) spent hours flogging virtual lemonade to virtual customers. Apple is now a part of my daily life whether that be my phone, the music in my home, the music in my car or just how I generally now access information.
If you look at what Apple mostly under the leadership of Steve Jobs have achieved it’s quite incredible but for me the things that set Jobs apart are:
He changed the rules of the game – when you think back to PCs before Jobs rejoined Apple they were generally cream boxes with monitors. They were very functional and in describing your computer it usually sounded something more akin to a car spec. It was all technical – chip speed, memory size, hard drive size etc. Then came iMac. Apple were never going to win in the functional battle so they changed the rules and made personal computing about cool, about design, about ‘want’ rather than ‘need’
He made second mover an art form – if you look at most of the successful Apple products they are not about being first. They are about being appealing. There were MP3 players before iPod and there are MP3 players that are technically better than iPod. But the combination of design, intuitive functionality, brand, cool, marketing and integration with iTunes has made the iPod the world’s most popular MP3 player
He was effortlessly charismatic – you only have to look at the recent Facebook developer’s event and the launch of iPhone 4S this week to realise how effortlessly charismatic Steve Jobs was. His presentations were natural, fun and engaging but I always got the sense that it was just him being the best version of himself.
He thought HUGE – if you look at what Pixar and latterly Apple have done it’s not about increments or minor adjustments. It’s about vision and transformation. That involves huge risk and huge courage but having the clarity to innovate and the personal drive to see it through creates something amazing.
A lot will be written in the coming days about Steve Jobs and this for me is just about getting the thoughts bouncing around my head out onto “paper”. Yesterday I had lunch with a former colleague and we were talking about a well known corporate CEO and their reputation for being tough, a piece of work, political and a nightmare to work for. My former colleague remarked how frustrating it is that seemingly it’s the ‘dark side’ leaders who make it and those from the ‘light side’ don’t. I can’t help thinking that we’ve lost one of the rebels.
Linked below is Steve Jobs’ address to the graduating class at Stamford University, filmed in 2005. It’s a lovely speech and very personal in places but ends with a fantastic quote where I will end, “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.
R.I.P. Steve Jobs