Born in 1955, Jobs came of age at the tail end of the free-thought hippie movement, and in many ways was a product of the time. Throughout his career, he followed a different path than other businesspeople. While most CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have Ivy League educations, Jobs dropped out of Reed College after one semester and traveled to India to study spiritualism and experiment with LSD. It was this sort of trend-bucking that would characterize most of Jobs’s career.
While the computer industry was making massive mainframes that took up entire rooms, Jobs was envisioning computers for the masses. He created the first prototype in 1976, and a company called Apple Computer Inc. was born. From the start, Jobs was about the product, not the profits. He demanded an unprecedented level of control over the engineering of his products—from the coating on the screws to the placement of components on the motherboard—and his passion for design shone through in nearly everything he did. “Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service,” said Jobs in a 2000 interview.
As a manager Jobs was harsh, often publically taking employees to task when he felt an idea, design or product “sucked.” Egos were bruised and feelings were hurt, but his employees always strived for excellence. “My job is not to be easy on people,” he once said. “My job is to take these great people we have and to push them, and make them even better.” Because of these deeply-held convictions and helped by his sense of showmanship, Jobs was able to convince his employees that the impossible could be done. He stacked his company with “A-players,” as he called them, and he inspired them to carry out his vision despite sometimes insurmountable-seeming odds.
One of Jobs’s greatest assets was his uncanny ability to drill down into the heart of things and excise all but the necessary. His watchword was always “simplicity.” That’s why the first computer mouse made by Apple—and all of its subsequent models—only had one button. The iPod was a direct response to the arcane, often bewildering mp3 players that preceded it. “You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple,” said Jobs to BusinessWeek in 1998. “But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Steve Jobs simply moved through the universe in a different way than the rest of us. Everything he touched, he changed. He shook up traditional advertising with Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial. He transformed animation with Pixar’s character-focused films like Toy Story. He positively revolutionized the the music industry with iTunes, and he modernized cell phones with the iPhone. And just as Jobs helped usher in the PC era with the first Apple computer, he initiated the post-PC era with the iPad. Before Jobs, there was no architecture in place for the way he wanted to change the world. So he created it—and the world has changed. As Jobs himself was fond of saying, it’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.
For more information, please visit: www.allaboutstevejobs.com
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