Some Quick Thoughts on Steve Jobs
I'm not a big blogger, or journalist, or even that well-known in my profession. I'm just some guy that's worked in the valley since the early 90's, and freely admits to worshiping Steve Jobs.
I have a few moments over the past several years that really illustrate that, which I'd like to share:
2001 I was out of work for a while (like many of us during that horrible year). I managed to snag a 3-month design contract working for a startup in San Jose. While I was on the job, I heard there was something big that Apple announced. Keep in mind that up to this point, we had really just witnessed only the 1st and 2nd generation iMacs and iBooks. Remember those heavy clamshell laptops? The George Foreman grill design ripoffs of the different colored iMacs? OK, brilliant move by George. Anyway, I checked out Apple's website and there it was: "1000 songs in your pocket". It was the first iPod. I was a designer, struggling to make ends meet, and a musician (ok, a drummer…make your jokes). I did two things upon seeing the iPod for the first time: I let out a loud "Holy Shit!", and then I called my musician/bandmate/friend at Apple: "What the f__! Why didn't you tell me about this?! I could've helped! I need the work!". His response: "Yeah, dude, like I knew."
2006 I met the same friend at lunch at Apple. Steve was sitting at the table next to us. I was such a starstruck dork I could barely eat, like I was dining at some restaurant in New York and DeNiro sat down next to me. Replace the desire to get your idol to say: "Are you talkin' to me?" with "Just one more thing…"
2007 I was in a meeting at Yahoo!, and having some debate about some feature that was a challenge to implement. Typical healthy debate on getting the optimal design built -- happens at lots of companies. Designers, we've all been there. I leave the meeting somewhat satisfied, getting a decent compromise and feeling pretty good -- but not exactly what I wanted. The same day iPhone is announced, double -"Holy Shit!". The next day, I went into a follow-up meeting to discuss details on decisions made the previous day. I was so fired up and inspired, and pushed back even harder, challenged the previous day's decisions, etc. "You guys, they made a phone with a touch-screen, has a browser, an iPod, an accelerometer, etc….and we can't do this?!" We were all inspired, and went back to revisit decisions. Didn't get 100%, but closer the previous day. Thanks for that Steve. Not to mention, his best product keynote speech, ever.
2011 related to the 2007 moment. A somewhat embarrassing fanboy admission: Before I interviewed/presented at Google, I watched the iPhone introductory keynote speech from 2007. It inspired me that much and continued to do so even four years later. I seriously think it helped my presentation.
I know Steve's still at Apple, but stepping down from CEO is hugely significant. Not in terms of where Apple will go, they're gonna be fine. It's that inspiration from a guy I always admired from afar that I'll miss.