R.I.P. Steve Jobs

The news of Steve Jobs’ passing hit me in much the way John Lennon’s death did in 1980 — I mean it blindsided me and my whole circle of friends with a surprisingly personal sense of loss although we’d never met him.

And not just because we heard the news — and shared it with our friends — on the iPhones and MacBooks that our fingers touch, on a daily basis, more than practically anything else.

Apple’s products have changed the course of my life, as I’ve previously written. But I admire Jobs most of all for three reasons that have little or nothing to do with the MacBook I’m typing this on:

  • He got fired from Apple. Kicked out of the organization he’d devoted his life to building. I can only imagine how that must have felt. Yet he came back from it in a way that said: “That wasn’t my life’s work, it was just the overture.”
  • He bought Pixar from George Lucas when they were down and out. He put his own money on the line,  then doubled down, buying into the dream of computer-animated features at a time when nobody else would.
  • He gave one of the best commencement speeches ever, one I’ve often returned to when I’ve felt the need to adjust my frame of mind. He said things like this:

“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.”

Jobs was no plaster saint. He shares many traits with Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Walt Disney, and will take his place in history books (or history ebooks) alongside them. Like the co-founder of that other Apple, John Lennon, he was, is, and always will be an inspiration.

Posted on Oct 6, 2011 in Blog | 4 comments

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  1. 10-6-2011

    Though I’m no Mac fan or, apart from an old and dusty Ipod, have any Mac products, the passing of Steve Jobs has touched me unexpectedly. Maybe that stems from the astonishing commencement speech or the weird fascination I nourished for the enthusiasm and clarity he portrayed in interviews. Perhaps it was pure charisma.

    No other CEO will ever draw such a worldwide commotion.

    Brazil (A country where Mac stores haven’t even been established due to draconian taxing system)

  2. 10-6-2011

    Well said. I too have found myself profoundly sad over his death. I have always been a fan of Apple – going back to our family’s first Apple II computer in the early 1980s – but in 2000, I became particularly enamored with Apple and Steve Jobs especially.

    I loved that they were coming out with an operating system built on Unix, I loved the upcoming Titanium laptops, and I loved the first version of their Avid clone, Final Cut Pro. And of course the innovations have only gotten more amazing since then. I’ve watched all of Steve’s major keynote addresses, speeches, and interviews in the past ten years and bought just about every gadget Apple makes.

    Of course I’ve never met him, yet I feel sadder than I have even when some friends and relatives have passed away.

    Even stranger, this wasn’t really a surprise, unlike John Lennon’s sudden death (which I was too young to be affected by.) We all knew Jobs had had pancreatic cancer since 2003, miraculously surviving a disease that usually kills within six months. We also knew that his health had been deteriorating rapidly this year and there’s been speculation for several years about what would happen to Apple when he finally passed on.

    It’s hard for me to imagine another public figure that I would be so upset about dying. Perhaps Barack Obama.

    My brother has been an engineer at Apple for over five years. Last time I visited him at work, he pointed out Steve’s shiny black VW beetle. Apparently he updated cars frequently, never had license plates, and always parked in the handicap space closest to the main building (1 Infinity Loop). I was fascinated to see and touch his car, a tangible connection to someone I considered a living legend.

    Like most Apple employees, my brother never met Steve Jobs either, yet we will all miss him immensely.

  3. 10-7-2011

    I adore jobs so much just because he is the inspiration to my role model that is YOU…

  4. 10-7-2011

    (Note – my brother said it was a Mercedes, not a Beetle. I know that Jobs famously liked the new Beetle, saying that VW “got it right”, so maybe my memory just changed his car to one.)

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