It seems somehow fitting that after not having posted in five months or so, this is the first time I’ve really felt an urge to express myself. It’s not that I haven’t cared, it’s that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to think about my own thoughts.
The passing of Steve Jobs today had a profound effect on me, more than I even probably realize, for a number of reasons. This is a man who inspired me. One of the biggest reasons I went into this crazy world of entrepreneurship and starting my own company is because of the existence of people like Steve Jobs (Woz as well, but that’s a story for another time). Jobs built a company I massively respected; one that cared about its users above all else. It’s fitting that I learned of his passing on a device he dreamed up, and am writing this post on a different device he helped envision.
I interned for Apple for a summer, and what I learned there somewhat surprised me; Steve Jobs wasn’t an idol to his employees, he was an inspiration. Each and every one of the people with whom I worked believed in what Steve and Apple stood for. We held the same ideals.
I’ll never forget causing Steve to spill food all over himself, accidentally, in Caffe Macs. I thought, for sure, I was going to get fired. Instead, he looked me up and down, glared at my Pixar shirt, grinned, turned around, and went to get more food. I cleaned up, of course, but that was that; not something worth giving a second thought. There were more important things to be done, industries to be revolutionized, worlds to be changed.
I once called Steve ‘Dude.’ Yeah, seriously. Again, he laughed it off and walked away. This was not a man to be bothered with proper salutations.
We had an executive Q+A session with Steve during my internship, and he was honest, down-to-earth, and told it like it was. I wanted to come up to him and ask him a few things afterward, but everyone told me not to. Of course, being dumb, I did anyway. And you know what? He gave me the time of day. We spoke about Apple, where it’s going, things I hated about the iPhone, what I liked and didn’t like about the Caffe, the internship program, and why I wanted to start a company. He told me to work for Apple. But if I wasn’t going to work for Apple, to start a company. You have no idea how much that meant to me. And yet, I didn’t realize quite how much of an effect it had until today. I wish I had sent him a thank you note, now that I’ve started a company, and am going down this path, but I suppose sometimes it takes a terrible loss to realize what you’ve been missing all along.
Did he remember my name? Almost undoubtedly not. But that’s the thing with visionaries: they almost always have a greater effect on you than you have on them. All you can hope to do is become a visionary yourself, and have that great of an effect on someone else down the line.
Be the person you want to look up to. Create, build, and change the world. Question the status quo.
It’s what Steve Jobs would do. I think.