October 12, 2011 by Tom Collins 345 views 2  

What I Learned From Steve Jobs.

Since the passing last week of Steve Jobs, there’s been thousands of stories, editorials, and musing on his legacy. He’s been called a genius, a control freak, an artist, a visionary, an innovator, a dreamer, and some even called him a god. He was our generation’s Edison, Ford, and Disney all rolled into one. Part Picasso, part P.T. Barnum.

Before Steve Jobs, computers were these big, scary, beige, complicated boxes with black and white screens that worked with floppy disc and on programs called “Dos” and were about as warm and friendly as Darth Vader. Steve Jobs changed that. He made them warm, friendly, and inviting. He turned this complicated, cold, box of circuits and logic boards into an elegant and easy to use work of art that could be used to create works of art. He was able to put inside that little box the dreams and passion of humanity.

But I degress.

What did I learn from Steve Jobs? Well, he showed us what it meant to build a great brand. To build a great brand meant more than just a cool tag line. It had to permeate from it’s deepest core. You had to not only talk the talk, you had to walk the walk. Yeah, it’s a little cliche, but it applies here. He coined the term “personal computer” and then renamed it the “imac”. That the core brand message radiated from not just the advertising, but through the design, the font, operating system, the retail store design, and every detail of the product. Every Apple product screams it’s brand – artistry, beauty, simplicity, classic, creativity, functionality, ease of use, and smart. He had a way of making everything we grew up watching on Star Trek come true. When he passed away, you could make a good argument that Apple was the worlds #1 brand, which is amazing since Mac still only holds about 9% of the computer market. He made it a pop culture icon.

Passion. I leaned from Steve Jobs what it meant to put passion into a product. He had a passion for what he did, and what he did was create. That passion is in every apple product we touch. Because of that passion, Apple products have an energy that Mac users feed off of. That passion makes it different, it makes you different. Mac people are fanatically passionate about Apple products. I’m a confessed Apple fanatic and have been one for over 20 years, so much I don’t allow those evil PC’s in my office. I won’t go near one or touch one. And if Steve Jobs had not created the Mac, I’d still be doing layouts on my trusty pad of layout paper.

KISS. Yes, Keep It Simple Stupid. Steve thought me that too. That’s one of the driving forces of ALL Apple products. You didn’t have to be Einstein to work these computers! These cool, creative, sophisticated, and elegant boxes were so easy to use even the art geeks could use them. Heck, Dads, housewives, truckers, and kids could figure this stuff out. No slide rule required. I remember my first iphone, I just could not believe how easy it was. I had a Razor, and it had a camera, and it had texting, and it had speed dial..but who ever used all that? Too darn hard. But the iphone…man that was easy. Like they say, he put the “Smart” into the “Smartphone”.

Big Picture. Apple is not the #1 company in the world because of it’s computers. No, it’s because Steve jobs saw the big picture of what computers could do and what that meant for digital information such as video, music, and communications. From Pixar to the iphone, he saw where it all was going and lead us down that rode. He made it soooo easy. I remember when I first heard about his idea of how the imac would one day be the “digital hub” in every house where music, photos, tv, and print would all run through. We laughed. But he saw it coming. Then came ipods, itunes, apple tv, mobile me, iphoto, idvd, imovie, and the iphone. Now we understand.

But think about what all we owe to Steve Jobs? Not just the iMac, the iphone, ipods…but think about ALL the jobs and products created because we have imacs, iphones, and ipods. Think of all the accessories, the cases, the chargers, the radios, the software, the apps, etc, etc, etc…..it goes on and on. Think of all the money generated off all of that outside of direct Apple sales. It’s phenomenal, not since Edison or Ford has one person had so much impact on our lives and our economy and the jobs he created.

I try not to worship too much at the alter of Steve Jobs, for he was just a man. But oh what a guy! Yes, I’d say he was our Edison, Ford, Disney, Picasso, P.T. Barnum, all rolled into one. We all fed off of him and that energy and what cool new toy he’d bring us. He made it cool for CEO’s to wear jeans and black mock turtlenecks. Let’s face it, Steve was just way too cool for us.

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