I woke this morning to the news that a man I’d never met and yet considered a role model, Steve Jobs, had died age 56 of pancreatic cancer. This day is, for me and many thousands of “Apple” people, grey. The world has lost an icon, legend and an unconventional leader.
I am a recent convert to Apple and having gone Mac, don’t intend to ‘go back’. A son of an architect and interior designer, I could whole heartedly relate to Steve designing a font for Apple as a key USP without selling it at such. I can understand why he focused so much on the combined experience of the aesthetic of the physical and the function of the software. He understood how ‘mere mortals’ want quality to look and feel.
Building the brand on core, unchanged principles and staying very loyal to his mission, Steve built not only Apple but an army of fans who watch every Apple Vodcast, buy every product and stick the Apple logo to their cars, wallets and bikes.
Crazy to the unconverted, these fans are just as much of the Apple success story as Steve. Without his fans, Steve would have been an odd eccentric with a misunderstood mission. Yet in his unconventional approach he realised his allies were his customers and he built his church.
Apple is not about technology. It is a technology company about enabling people to do things with technology. This is a fundamental difference and it is what sets Apple apart from its competitors. Steve Jobs understood consumer psychology and went on a mission to bring that understanding to a world of increasingly cool technology until finally his technology was the coolest around.
What happens now to Apple is only for time to tell, I question it’s ability to build the fan base but really hope they can maintain it. The release yesterday of the iPhone 4S and not the 5 just means now that the iPhone 5 will have to be flawless, Steve is not there to cover for them.
As Steve leaves behind his own family, Apple family and fans, I hope those who were close to him had their chances to say good bye and thank you. This is my way of thanking on of the men who has been a key inspiration to my own core belief… I believe that the most influential, interesting and effective people are those who take a different view on the world, do things differently. They are pushed by an inner need to put their own stamp on the world and in so doing create a strong pull for people to follow them. This applies to entrepreneurs who leave the ‘nine to five’ life to live in the sometimes lonely space of entrepreneurship, making their vision a reality. The people who look at their personal journey through spiritual eyes and bridge the ethereal and business worlds. The people who challenge the norms of personal identity through their own journey and inspire others to do the same… These are the people that inspire, challenge and excite the world around them. These people are my inspiration and role models.
In my work as a coach and support for entrepreneurs and business leaders, I strive to bring out a little of Steve Jobs. To shape their confidence around their beliefs, abilities and credibility so that they can attract and grow their own fan base.
CTV News has released a short time line of Steve’s milestones here and if you’ve not seen his very inspiring and moving 2005 Stanford University Commencement speech I’d highly recommend watching here and bookmarking it.