My Thoughts On Steve Jobs

by Christopher Paul on October 8, 2011

Right now, I’m listening to (on a continuous loop) the audio track from this video of Steve Jobs narrating the iconic Apple commercial where they introduced the ‘Think Different‘ advertising slogan. It surfaced (or resurfaced depending on your point of view) soon after the world learned he passed away Wednesday at the age of 56 of, what we assume is, pancreatic cancer.

Had I not been so busy at work this week, I would have joined the chorus of people tweeting and blogging about how sad they felt for his family, friends, Apple employees, and devoted fans of him and the products he helped create. And now that I have some time, it’s my turn to say a few words of appreciation and reflect on a man who many will (and rightly so) call the most influential industrialist of our time.

He’s been compared to Edison, Einstein, Ford, Disney, and others. Each of those men permanently changed the world and Steve certainly ranks among them. His extraordinary vision alone should propel him to the same rank of the others. But the way he inspired people with his demands of attention to detail and his constant search of perfection, I feel, puts him in a realm of his own and above all others.

He was not without his flaws. But he seemed to understand them and learn from the mistakes made from them for the better. I, myself, thought Apple was dead when he came back in the late ’90s. I thought he was too grandiose to turn things around. And I was wrong.

When the iPod came out, I knew it was going to be a hit. It was the first time I grasped his vision. And I searched and searched for software that let me, a Windows guy, use the iPod on my PC. Not only did I risk several hundred dollars on a device I might ruin or not be able to use, I bought the FireWire adapter just at the chance to use it.

But it wasn’t until I met my wife did I understand how wrong I was about Jobs’ ability to turn his company around. She’s a graphic designer and, of course, used a Mac to perform her art. At that point, OS X was becoming the default OS for Macs and OS 9 was a secondary option. I loved how OS X looked. And while it took some getting used to, I appreciated the way things were organized and available to the user. The first Mac of my own was an Intel based Mac Mini. I knew it was a cheap way for me to dabble in something newish. At the time, I was a guy who knew the Windows Registry almost inside and out. Once I got it setup, I never looked back.

Since then, I’ve handed off my Mini to my 90 year old grandmother who loves it. Between my wife and I, we’ve owned G3 towers, several iPods of all types (including the very first one), the first Intel iMacs and Minis, iPhone 3Gs and 4s, a MacBook Pro, iPad 2s, both AirPort wireless devices, and countless accessories. They just work. They work the way I want and the way that makes sense. I can never go back to using a PC and using one for my professional life gives me so much aggravation. And I can’t imagine my life without my iPhone; its the Swiss Army Knife of smartphones and it’s my standard issue phone – thankfully, I get to use one for work, too.

But the biggest influence Steve Jobs has made on me aren’t the products he helped create, it’s his vision and drive to push things forward. His ability to not look back and to forge ahead – seemingly alone – because deep in his very being, he knew he was right. He’s a man who followed his dreams and didn’t settle. And he exemplifies the kind of person I wish I was and who I hope to become as I age.

The world lost a man who forever changed our universe – he did more than ding it, for sure. It’s sad he died so young. It’s sad he died before his mind couldn’t dream anymore. And, of course, it’s selfishly sad we may not get the kind of invention that changes lives so greatly from him anymore. Who knows when we’ll be blessed with another person like him.

I don’t feel the need to thank Steve Jobs for what he’s done; he didn’t build the things I use for me – he did it for himself and Apple. I think my appreciation shows in my continued support of his company and the products that have made my life better. But I did want to acknowledge, in my own way, how much I’ve come to respect him and how sad I am for myself and the world for losing him.

If there’s any way to end my little eulogy, it’s to highlight the text from the ‘Think Different’ commercial and to combine two phrases he’s used in his interviews, speeches, and demos.

“Don’t settle.” and “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

And ‘Think Different’:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

I’m so fortunate to have been able to see how this misfit and rebel pushed the human race forward. Here’s to Apple and man who made it.

Push the heavens forward and change things there for us, Steve.

Rest different.

Previous post:

Next post: