I was working away tonight and had turned off all distractions when I got a text from my girlfriend.
“Did you hear Steve Jobs died?”
I didn’t know him. Never met him. I didn’t even have the opportunity to actually ever see him in person. He wasn’t Canadian. He didn’t attend my university. He didn’t share my ethnic heritage. He was simply the founder and CEO of a company based in another country on the other side of the continent.
But he influenced me.
For most of my life, I’ve worked as a creative in the advertising industry. And for all of those years, I was inspired by Steve Jobs.
Was it because creative departments proudly used his computers and software? No.
Was it because he was behind my favourite spot, “Think Different”? No.
Was it because he approved what is widely considered as the best and most effective TV spot of all time, “1984”? No.
Was it because he lead a company that is THE branding case study? No.
Was it because he created brilliant products that people didn’t even realize they wanted? No.
Was it because he completely overhauled his business model creating the most valuable company in the world? No.
It was because he did something that all of us who work in this business try to do every single day: He succeeded simply by doing what was right.
His ads were what all ads SHOULD be.
His design was what all design SHOULD be.
His business was what all businesses SHOULD be.
He proved that the really successful didn’t need to resort to sales, promotions, or starbursts. He proved that a corporation COULD connect with people emotionally.
He proved that good taste wasn’t just a creative thing, it was the right thing.
Even when I had a hand in creating some brilliant work – work that I am extremely proud of – I compared it to his. And it never measured up.
Thanks for the inspiration, Steve. Thanks for being that bar that all of us try to reach in every piece of communication we create.
I promise to stay hungry and stay foolish. And I’ll always remind myself to think different.
Something tells me that’s the way you would have wanted it.
There are other business geniuses and visionaries. But watching this speech at Sanford http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc it strikes me that what distinguished Steve Jobs is that he built his mortality into his life, where others seek to live forever. For Jobs, death was his motivation, and he was content with his place in the universe.
None of us can be as smart as Steve Jobs, but we can all learn from that profound insight.
Well said, Simon.