Steve Jobs as a person, was not known for his niceness, but his work that has transformed the world by changing the relationship between humans and technology is undeniably well-known. (And we do love the iPhones and the iPads, don’t we?)
TIME magazine is probably the only magazine that has the most intimate relationship with this rebel genius, and it has published a book the size of the magazine, chronicling the products of his life, through selected articles published in the Time magazine (there were 8 issues in total!). This compilation issue is simply titled: “Steve Jobs – The Genius Who Changed Our World.”
Which other individual has been on the Time magazine cover that many times over the years? Only Presidents and world leaders have that privilege. But Steve Jobs is amongst them. That says a lot about this unique character, doesn’t it?
So what was his real genius?
According to the contributing writers in this book, Jobs’ genius lies in his vision and the execution of his vision. Nothing can get in his way of achieving his dreams.
“He wasn’t a computer scientist, after all. He had no training as a hardware engineer or an industrial designer. His education consisted of a semester at Reed College and a stint at an ashram in India.”
He taught himself about computers. He also studied human behaviour to the tee! By understanding how both work, he succeeded in marketing and selling a product that enticed the senses and enhanced creativity and productivity.
But being nice is not part of Job’s package. Would he have been great if he were nicer to people?
“Jobs will be remembered as a great man, but not necessarily as a nice man.”
He was a control freak, micromanaged to ridiculous levels, and barked at those who could not measure up to his high standards. But it is his obsession with perfection and detail, and a keen eye for clean designs, that made his products what they are today.
“Most companies specialise in one or two things: hardware, software, operating systems, Web services, consumer devices, retail. Apple does them all at once. It’s insane.”
He didn’t even make the machine that revolutionised the computer industry. It was his friend Stephen Wozniak who was the genius behind the computer. “Steve didn’t do one circuit, design or piece of code,” says Wozniak. “He’s not really been into computers, and to this day he has never gone through a computer manual. But it never crossed my mind to sell computers. It was Steve who said, ‘Let’s hold them up in the air and sell a few.'”
And he went on to sell millions. The rest is history. What we can perhaps learn from Steve Jobs is to have a vision and never doubt ourselves.
“When it came to his views, Steve may have been right, he may have been wrong, but he was never in doubt.”
When asked about his imminent ending of his career with Apple, a few years into his battle with cancer, this was his reply: “I don’t think of my life as a career. I do stuff. I respond to stuff. That’s not a career – it’s a life!”
And so, the biggest takeaway for me when I read about Steve Jobs’ life and passion, is that if we have yet to discover our true passion, perhaps we just need more time to explore our interests further. Perhaps we need to explore things we have not explored before. Like calligraphy. Or meditation. Or coding. Or perhaps what we need is not a career, but a life well-lived!
What do you think?