Some Thoughts on Steve Jobs

He meant a lot to me, too.

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”
– Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, 1977

Last night, I stopped by the Apple Store at the Biltmore Fashion Park. That’s an outdoor mall walking distance from our Phoenix condo. I needed a glare reduction screen for my iPad, which I’ll be using an an electronic flight bag on my helicopter flight from Washington to Arizona this weekend.

As I expected, the Apple logo above the door was dark. But what I didn’t expect was the small and rather sad collection of wilted flowers and cold candles on the pavement outside the store, just to the right of the door. A man in a wheelchair sat there, with a middle-aged woman nearby. They stared intensely at the shrine.

It reminded me of the cult-like members of some of the Apple User Groups I’d presented to in the past.

I thought it was weird — I’m really not a shrine person — and said so on a Facebook post.

Someone commented and asked me why I thought it was weird. And that forced me to finally come to grips with my feelings about the death of Steve Jobs.

Like so many other people, Steve Jobs meant a lot to me.

Steve Jobs was a genius. While he didn’t invent concepts like the MP3 player, smart phone, or tablet computer, he guided Apple to create new and innovative entries into these markets that redefined what each of these things were. The iPod and iTunes store changed the way we listen to and buy music — it shook up an entire industry that had previously been completely unrelated to computers. The iPhone and its App Store took smartphones to the next level, making them far more user friendly and useful than ever before. The iPad brought the iPhone’s now-familiar and wildly successful interface and apps to a larger, more useful device, bringing with it the dawn of the “post PC” era. These products literally changed the world.

Steve Jobs was a perfectionist. He put his high standards before social acceptance — in other words, he’d rather have “insanely great” products than be well-liked. I can really identify with this. While I can’t claim to be anywhere near as smart or picky as Steve was, I also try hard to put my standards first and, I can assure you, that has often had a serious negative impact on personal relationships. But Steve really didn’t seem to care. It was the product first, the company first. If it had the Apple name or logo on it, it had to be up to his standards, period. How can I not respect that?

Steve Jobs was also the embodiment of something I’ve been saying for a long time: you don’t need a college degree to do great things. What you need is a good brain, a great work ethic, the ability to work smart and stay focused, and the drive to succeed. He proved, again and again, that you can get ahead in life by working hard and smart. His flame burned brightly for his entire life, always thinking about the next project, even as he finished the one before it. He never rested; he was driven to succeed.

Is it any wonder that Steve Jobs was one of my personal heroes?

The life story of Steve Jobs is an example of what made America great so many years ago. It’s also a lesson for what could make it great again — if we’d all get off our asses and get to work, using Steve as a role model. Sadly, I don’t think that will happen. Yes, there’s been a disturbance in The Force, but once it dissipates, America will go back to sleep.

Everyone is writing about Steve Jobs these days. I’m probably one of the last to do so. It took me a while to think about what I wanted to say, what I needed to say. And what I’m saying is likely nothing new.

We all knew what Steve Jobs was — an insightful man driven to perfection. How can anyone not love and respect that?

What do you think?