2 years ago today, one of the most important men in the history of consumer electronics passed away after a battle with cancer. Apple’s co-founder was one of the most extraordinary people to ever walk the earth, and yet it’s often so easy to remember him only for the products he helped launch. Often times we’ll talk about him in relation to the Macintosh in 1984, the original iPod, Toy Story and the Pixar animation studio and – of course – the iPhone. The truth is, with his personality and character, he could have turned his hand and attention to almost anything and his intensity and drive would make it happen. We, as tech enthusiasts, are incredibly fortunate that his interests centered around using technology to improve people’s lives.
For me personally, I was never really aware of Steve Jobs or his importance for most of my life. I watched Toy Story when I was 11 and thought nothing of his name popping up on screen. I didn’t even know what Apple was at that time. Even when I got my first iPhone, I wouldn’t have had a clue who he was had you mentioned his name in a conversation. And yet, having only discovered his role in shaping the modern technological landscape relatively recently, it’s been more than just his products to have impacted me. It was his words. His way of thinking. Of course, it was that which helped make Apple what it is today, but so much of his deep thinking and philosophies can be applied in almost any area of life.
One quote I’ve found inspiring over the past few years is one from his now famous Stanford commencement address:
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. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
My own personal tendency – as someone who has and still does suffer with anxiety and depression – is to worry more about what others think and not have the courage to follow my own intuition. And secondly, in my work life I’ve found the following incredibly useful:
It can be very easy to be content with creating a good piece of work, then sitting back and admiring it without moving on. It’s important for me to remember to keeping going, keep doing better, keep improving. No matter how long that journey takes.
Last year, Apple made an official tribute to its former CEO:
As you can see, even in the short time I’ve known of the late, great Steve Jobs, he’s had an impact on me. But, what many people don’t realize is that he’s more than likely had an impact on them. His character and values lead him to launching the iPhone in 2007. It’s almost impossible to imagine the smartphone market without the iPhone. I can’t imagine how things would look now if the iPhone had never been invented. The same can be said of the tablet market and the iPad.
However great Steve Jobs undoubtedly was, one thing that frequently frustrates me is that so many Apple fans and tech enthusiasts are downbeat on the company’s chances of survival without him. It’s now been two years since Jobs passed, and Apple’s in better shape than it ever has been. And this isn’t written to somehow throw doubt on his significance to Cupertino. Steve Jobs’ effect on Apple was so great that it’ll go on for many more years to come. His values, his way of thinking about design and solving problems, his relentless perfectionism, his obsession with design and simplicity are all values and characteristics that are still deeply embedded in the company we know and love. In short: Steve Jobs, although no longer physically with us, still lives on through Apple.
I’ll leave you with Tim Cook’s letter to Apple employees from yesterday:
“Team-Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of Steve’s death. I hope everyone will reflect on what he meant to all of us and to the world. Steve was an amazing human being and left the world a better place.I think of him often and find enormous strength in memories of his friendship, vision and leadership. He left behind a company that only he could have built and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. We will continue to honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to the work he loved so much. There is no higher tribute to his memory. I know that he would be proud of all of you.Best,Tim”