It’s been less than two hours since I first heard that Steve Jobs had passed away, and already I feel lonely. Already, I feel that the earth has gotten a little smaller today. I’m sure over the next few hours and days, the Internet will be deluged with tributes, poems, status updates, quotes, videos and the like…all much more eloquently spoken and put together than me or this posting. I’m sure this will get lost in the ether somewhere, but I’m truly and deeply saddened and want to put up my own awkwardly written rambling somewhere to add to the noise. There are few times in your life that you are moved by the death of someone you’ve never even met…John Lennon and Steve Jobs are my two (to date).
And it’s not because I’m an Apple fan. Sure, I have a lot of iPods, iPhones, an iPad, some old desktops and quite a few laptops laying around. Hell, if I dig deep enough in the office I’m sure I’ll find a Newton in there somewhere. No…this isn’t about products. I did my senior thesis in business school on Apple. It was around the time Steve was first booted out and John Sculley had just come over from Pepsi. I remember railing on the decision to fire Steve as a shortsighted move. I remember defending my points to the college board and dean, and explaining why “bad behavior” was visionary, and how operators and entrepreneurs are two different creatures.
And that is why I’m truly sad tonight; why I feel the world has gotten a little smaller. There are only a handful of people in this world that are unafraid of the status quo. There are but a scant few people that have the strength to stand up to a culture that increasingly continues to see only short-term. That fights and pushes those that continually fear change and all the good that comes of moving the human race forward. I applaud and look up to people like that. I emulate them and have tasted a bit of the backlash that comes from it. It’s a hard road, but it’s the right road. Without it, we cease to evolve. It takes big people like Steve Jobs to keep things moving. It takes people of that conviction to stand up to the short-sighted boards that defend the status quo with all the strength their fear can muster.
Steve was famous for saying “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” But I think that the Wayne Gretzky quote is more apropos: “I skate to where the puck will be. Not to where it was.” Steve Jobs was one of the few brave enough to skate away from the pack and move to where the “puck” was going to be.
And even though these words were penned by the Los Angeles office of TBWA/Chiat/Day, I feel there is no better send off for Steve Jobs:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Thank you for being crazy. Thank you for changing the world. Thank you for changing my world. There is one less round peg in the world today, and no matter what anybody says, I feel that that hole will never be filled.
Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. I already miss you.