I could not believe the impact the news of Steve Jobs’ death had on me. I had only known him as an iconic public figure like so many of our time but his passing felt like some dear relative had been taken away from me. I am simply overwhelmed and furthermore surprised to know that I am not the only one. The impact he had made through his vision, his passion and his humanity is far greater than anyone I have known in my lifetime. His work was nothing less than revolutionary but it was HOW everything he did at Apple embodied this spirit and perhaps it was this spirit that drew us all so close to him.
Reflecting on why I feel the way I do I realized his life impacted me at multiple levels, as a marketer, as a tech geek, as a salesman and as a human. Here I try to capture some of what I have learned from him.
Challenge the Status Quo
I think this is by far the most important lesson I have learnt from Steve Jobs. He was a living example of going against the norm. He made intuition and gut-feel everyday lingo in the world of Marketing. Where McKinsey and Bain rule with quantitative research and hard facts he believed in “having the courage and the heart to follow your intuition“. The status quo in marketing is to test and pre-test everything. If that would have been the case at Apple the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad would never have seen the light of day. Steve believed “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” It was his vision and his courage that he challenged convention time and time again and changed the music industry, the mobile phone business and computing forever. My net take-out “Believe in something, pursue it with passion and persevere in the face of failure.”
Function and Form are Interdependent
Steve had a very strong aesthetic sense. His passion for design and art reflected in everything he did. He always looked at technology from a human perspective. It was never about creating function for the sake of function and to add design as an afterthought as is prevalent in so many industries even today. As he said it best, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” This was the fundamental difference between an Apple product and just any technology product. This is an important lesson for anyone who is looking to create a human experience, be it a product or a service it is imperative that both form and function are intertwined to deliver a holistic experience.
The World is a Stage…
As an ad man that’s one thing we have to do a lot of times. Sell ideas. I think there was no better salesman than Steve Jobs. A large part of his stage presence had to with his personality and his love for what he did. Despite, his achievements there was an air of humility about him. I remember the iPad 2 keynote when he was talking about some features in awe as if he had nothing to do with them…as if they were something his team had come up with. It could be true but he was a inspiring leader who believed “my job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” But that was not all. Despite creating “magical” products Steve Jobs really knew how to put up a show. From his countless hours of rehearsals to his on-stage antics he was a perfectionist. And “one more thing.” Before I close I think this video to introduce the Mac OS X 10 is a brilliant example of his presentation skill. Something I sure aspire to come close to in my own presentations. Thank you Steve! You have left your mark in my world and in the lives of millions of people. You would be dearly missed! God bless your soul.