Death is something that is somewhat a foreign concept to me. I have a fairly small family that isn’t really close to each other. Throughout my now 31 years of life when family members have died, I was never really affected because I frankly didn’t know them at all. Of all the funerals that I have been to in my life (a whole 6 or 7) only one was for a family member and I was too young to even process what was going on. The rest I have gone to in support a friend or my wife. Given this, I have a weird detachment from death and, depending on who you talk to, a very unconcerned or unemotional response to it. This is why I was really surprised today when I found myself genuinely sad when thinking about the death of Steve Jobs. Especially since I have never met or even seen him in person.
As I was trying to figure out why I ran through several possibilities. The biggest is that I am almost the quintessential Apple “fanboy”. I remember using Macintosh computers back in elementary and middle school. Typing my first class papers on them. I remember falling in love with Final Cut Pro back in April of 1999 and OS 9 later that year. I remember being super excited waiting for the UPS delivery guy when my first ever PowerMac was delivered in 2001 (a Quicksilver which still runs and is sitting on a shelf behind me). I remember being at NAB 2007 and dragging my co-workers to the Apple reveal of Final Cut Studio 2. I type this post using my iMac, Apple TrackPad, and wireless Apple keyboard. In a backpack next to me is my MacBook Pro and iPad. The network in my house is controlled by an Apple Airport and my wife is watching a video on her MacBook. There is not a day that doesn’t go by that I use an Apple device in some way, shape, or form. As I thought about it, though, this wasn’t the reason because while Steve Jobs gets the credit for Apple innovations, there are over 40,000 people that work for the company. There are many engineers, designers, and developers at Apple who are the true champions of these products. It was in this thought, though, where I realized why I was sad.
“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 other’s opinions drown out your 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.” ~ Steve Jobs
It is the job of a CEO to set the tone, direction, and vision for a company. It was Steve Jobs’ ideas, hopes, dreams, and vision that made Apple the company it was today. It was Steve Jobs’ dedication to outside-of-the-box thinking, consistent improvement, and the desire to change the world that allowed a corporate culture where amazing products were created. I am sad at the loss of Steve Jobs, not because I think of all the products his company made. I am sad at his death because someone that I looked up to as a visionary business leader, a dynamic speaker, and the type of passionate creative that I aspire to be is gone.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. 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. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” ~ Steve Jobs
Mr. Jobs, I never had a chance to meet you, but I hope if I had, I would have been able to say thank you. Not thank you for the products your company has made, but thank you for being an inspiration. From your messages, quotes, and presentations, I have learned a lot. I hope that one day I will have an opportunity to be a visionary leader as you were and that I will always be able to summon the courage to live by the same motto you did, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the inspiration.
“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, but 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 that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Steve Jobs