Steve Jobs, the charismatic founder and CEO of Apple has died. That’s old news now though, he died on Wednesday, but I’ve been in the Australian outback and I only found out yesterday when I saw an email from a friend with the title ‘Jobsy.’ I immediately knew what the email would tell me, that Steve Jobs had succumbed to the rare form of pancreatic cancer he had been fighting.
I didn’t know Steve Jobs, or rather I didn’t know him much more than other people who use and enjoy Apple products. I’d heard stories of his tight control on product design and his outlandish behaviour in the early days of Apple.
My favorite of those stories is when, in 1983, Jobs lured the CEO of Pepsi, John Sculley, away from the soft drinks manufacturer with the question, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”
He was famous for being a fierce micro-manager, a CEO who spent a great deal of his time involved in the smallest of details that most CEOs would leave to others. I had an experience of that myself back in 2001 when Steve Jobs himself ordered that a website I was running should be closed down.
Mac Cards was essentially a Apple fan site that used pictures of Apple products in ecards that people could send to one another. The site was a quick success and became very popular in the Mac community. However, Steve Jobs sent another Apple executive a ‘Mac Card’ that read “How can anyone represent us in this way?!!” It was an ominous forewarning to the legal intervention that followed soon after.
Mac Cards was forced to close amid a storm of negative publicity. The company was widely criticised for using heavy handed tactics. Even Apple’s own co-founder Steve Wozniak publicly commented that the company had overreacted, and in an email to me Wozniak wrote, “The Apple that you love is the people that use Apple products and the community that they represent. This ‘Apple’ supports you.”
In the end Apple sought to smooth things over with myself and my friend Will (who was also named in their UK high court injunction), though I have little doubt that decision didn’t come from Mr Jobs.
It’s sad that he’s died so young. At 56 years old he was still very much ahead of the game in the technology world. His ability to drive innovation and market desire was the envy of every company in the world. And while Apple didn’t necessarily invent a raft of new technologies (as my angry friend Darryl would often point out), it put them together in a way that the world wanted to use them.
As I said, I didn’t know Steve Jobs, and already many blogs and column inches have been devoted to his passing. But in true Jobs style I’ll add just ‘one more thing‘ and leave you with the words of Jobs himself that he said to students in a commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005.
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.
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 others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.