I’m writing this within an hour of the announcement on CNN of the death of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. He was just 56. He’d battled cancer for eight years and his resignation a month or two back suggested that he had not overcome the disease. At the time I wrote about his accomplishments- the user friendly Mackintosh (and don’t overlook the now ubiquitous mouse), the colourful Mac series, the black Next computer, the iPod, the iPhone and finally the iPad. He changed the mobile phone from a talking device to our personal connector and entertainer. He changed the way we listened to music and forced the record industry to restructure itself.
While the software on his products were outstanding, it was his eye for design which attracted us to Jobs and his Apple products. He was arrogant and felt he alone had “taste” when it came to his products. He was not an easy man to work with as he searched for perfection but his visions proved correct and he attracted a loyal team.
Jobs grew out of being simply clever but wilful 21-year old entrepreneur. He rebounded from the humiliation of being forced out of Apple and learnt the hard way that success needs more than an innovative product like Next. Jobs matured into a smart businessman and savvy marketer. On the way, Jobs saw a new opportunity for his programming developments and he founded Pixar. The film studio soon started a run of highly successful animated films.
I show a clip of Steve Jobs during my presentation skills classes. He was a master showman and a brilliant presenter. Pulling an iPod from the smallest pocket in his jeans or MacBook Air from an interoffice envelope, are the tricks that made his launches memorable. Dramatic demonstrations, combined with simple power-point graphics, most with just one amazing statistic on screen, were his signature. His enthusiasm is obvious in these recordings.
He also controlled the marketing of his products and prepared the logistics so within hours of the launch announcement stocks were in the stores in the USA and other parts of the world. All this was done with amazing secrecy. He had become perhaps the best all-round CEO in the current business world.
Steve Jobs has changed our lives. He didn’t follow any other path but his own. As an innovator, he is assured of his place in the 21st century hall of fame. I mourn his passing as someone I admired professionally, but we should remember he also leaves family and friends who will miss him as man and I can only offer my sympathy to them for their loss.
I wrote a farewell to the man when he stepped down from the head position at Apple. Now I have to say a real goodbye to Steve Jobs. He will be missed by me and you.