Steve, here’s to you. The Crazy One. The Creative, Passionate, Driven Genius.
The worldwide reaction to the passing of Steve Jobs has been unbelievably strong, to say the least. Former employees, celebrities, and even competitors paid tribute. Sure, in the western world, very few individuals have not been impacted by the technologies invented by the companies he created. Apple notably introduced the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. Pixar Animation Studios, a computer animation film studio acquired by Steve Jobs in 1986, produced 12 feature films, beginning with Toy Story in 1995, earned 26 Academy Awards, and made over $6 billion worldwide.
Above and beyond Steve Jobs’ entrepreneurial success, what are truly touching people are the personal characteristics of the man. Steve Jobs stands out for his Creativity, Passion, and Drive – universally acclaimed qualities. The combination of these qualities made him such an appreciated genius.
The video below surfaced after Jobs’ death. It is a hugely inspirational video. It is the original Apple “Think Different” commercial. In it, images of transformative leaders throughout the 20th century are shown as a narrator toasts to them for changing the world. In the original versions that aired on television, the narrator is Richard Dreyfuss. But in the version below, the narrator is Steve Jobs. It never aired. In 1997, perhaps he did not know it when he recorded the video, but today we can recognize in many ways Steve Jobs describing himself.
The toast is the following:
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.
Apple’s “The Crazy Ones” Commercial Narrated by Steve Jobs – Never Aired
The challenge with being a rebel / a misfit / a troublemaker is that the majority of people will not be supporting such a character early on (when he/she most needs it). Rosa Parks is considered a heroine today, but she lost her job after her public stance. Other iconic figures such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. faced major opposition and their fate didn’t end very well for them (fortunately their cause continued to progress after their death). Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple in 1985. Then, when he came back to the company a decade later, it took him several years to come up with a turnaround strategy. Many people forget the period from 1996 to 2001 when many in the industry called Steve insane more frequently, than insanely awesome.
It takes passion, drive and a strong sense of self-confidence to push ahead when facing strong headwinds. Some employees benefit from an organisational culture more open to new ideas than others’, but a prerequisite to innovation and risk taking is typically a supportive senior management. I have seen the treatment given to selfless individuals trying to infuse energy and new ideas into organisations suffering from sclerosis. When organisations are paralyzed and cannot reinvent themselves, people trying to change the status quo are incidentally labeled “misfits”, “rebels” or “troublemakers”. Perhaps the thinking is that these individuals will be easier to control once they are marginalised. Similarly, Jobs, a demanding perfectionist striving only for the very best, has been labelled aggressive and demanding. He wasn’t the first and won’t be the last, but as Steve Jobs’ life demonstrates, we ought to pay more attention to and encourage creative individuals who have the passion, drive, and strength of character to ask tough questions with the objective of bettering society.
Words of Encouragement to Those Who Have Been Fired or Laid off.
Jobs claimed that being fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him.
“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
Steve Jobs on Innovation.
Steve summed up his approach to remaining at the forefront of the information technology industry by foreseeing and setting trends by quoting “The Great One”, Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky:
“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will.”
Steve Jobs on Designing Your Life.
Jobs, who never graduated from college, shared with Stanford graduates what he learned from 3 major life events:
1) Dropping out of college after one semester.
“It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back, it one of the best decisions I ever made”
2) Getting fired from Apple.
“It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life”
3) Being diagnosed with cancer.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address.
Farewell Steve, we will miss you.
Steve is a role model for us all. Think big and it will happen if you believe and put your energy into it. In practice, I believe that thinking differently can have a social cost and be challenging depending in the type of culture you’re in (corporate or other). We need more people like Steve Jobs…