Steve Jobs: crazy enough to think he could change the world. And did.

October 6, 2011

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 invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some 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.

-Apple’s Think Different campaign, 1997-2002.

I was sitting in my hotel room in Banff last night when I heard a text ding in. It was my nephew, in Rochester, NY: Steve Jobs dead at 56

Noooo I texted back, as I reached for the remote to find CNN on Canadian TV. And then, I cried.

Oh, I knew this day was coming soon. First, it was the book publication date that got pushed up. Despite denials, I knew that this book, for which he had done rare interviews, was pushed up in the hope that he’d live to see it.

And then, the resignation. Even as the hopeful said that he’d done it to spend more time with his family, his message said that he was too sick to do the thing he loved most, next to his family: run his company.

I knew. We all knew. And yet, when the day finally came, it shocked us all.

I didn’t know Steve, but he was a presence in Silicon Valley from the moment I arrived here in 1984. He built a company uniquely of our generation, one that couldn’t have come out of any other time.

Steve and Apple have been the backdrop to my life in California and his death a harsh reminder that at some point, life ends for us all. We’re all mortal. Even Steve Jobs.

In a time when many people lived lives of unfulfilled potential, Steve more than fulfilled his. His photo wasn’t in the Think Different campaign. But it could have been.

His enthusiasm for life, for making a difference, for changing the world–they weren’t traits we’re used to seeing in CEOs. In business. Steve and Apple were a unique combination.

Yes, Apple will go on. Many talented people are still there. And yet, its unique spark has been extinguished.

This poignant photo taken after his last public appearance struck me hard at the time.

It said everything. How hard he’d fought. How tired he was. And in this photo, a tacit acceptance that this was the last time he’d have a public role in the company he’d built, been jettisoned from and then rebuilt. Steve and his wife look so connected, so in love in this photo.

By all accounts, Steve Jobs lived a full life. He had an accomplished career. A loving family. And, he did something everyone of our generation wanted to do: he changed the world.

Condolences and warm thoughts to his family as we grieve with them the loss of this incredible man.

4 comments on “Steve Jobs: crazy enough to think he could change the world. And did.
  1. Isabelle says:

    Very poignant post. Thank you for sharing it. As a designer, I had to have a mac… my first one was an LC2…only graphic designer were on mac, back then…over time. Apple became a giant… but it kept it’s soul, always giving us great designed machine. Think different. Your post is a great homage to him.

  2. Thanks, Isabelle. Yes, I remember those days when designers only had Macs. Ah, we were lucky to have been along with him for the ride.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can’t stop crying :'(

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