Just two days ago, we lost one of the most influential figures of the modern world: Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs is best known for his company, Apple, Inc., which helped revolutionize the age of computers, hand held devices, social networking, and mass communication. Jobs was an inspiration, a legend, and a symbol of immense drive and fortitude. Life challenged him from the beginning and until the end: he never graduated college, he was kicked out of his own company after a life of work, and he faced a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Through all that, though, Jobs found drive, and eventually he spoke at famous commencements like the 2005 Stanford University Commencement, was brought back into Apple, and beat the 3-6 month life expectancy of his diagnosis.
Steve taught this writer something powerful even though we only met through his devices: you’ve got to have perseverance in the face of uncertainty. You’ve got to stay hungry and stay foolish. You’ve got to love your work. You’ve got tackle challenges. You’ve got to try and hope it works out down the line.
A Life of Dedication
Steve Jobs lived a life of dedication. And while many point out that he was a college drop out, it’s important to note that Jobs stayed for much longer as an “informal” student of sorts. He slept on the floor of friend’s dorms and spent time eating what some may consider the stereotypical college cuisine. Despite the instability, he saw the utility in learning, discovering new things, and testing oneself. He loved what he was pursuing.
What seemed to be a scatter-shot approach to college to some actually turned out to be extremely useful. Jobs would carry on the skills and knowledge he acquired in school to the field, even using calligraphy classes he dropped in on to help develop the typefaces we now recognize as standard on all personal computers.
By 1976, the driven, talented Steve Jobs was helping to create a company many will long consider as one of the best: Apple Computers, Inc. which we now know as Apple, Inc. Founded with Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne, the company would start with shaky foundations as Wayne would soon sell back his shares due to uncertainty. Over the next four years, the Apple I would make its debut and the company would start to gain momentum. By 1980, Apple went public and was soon worth $1.77 billion.
Jobs hit snags along the way, though. After bringing on John Sculley, then CEO of Pepsi, and introducing the Mac to “the people” during the Superbowl, he faced his biggest challenge yet: finding a new job. In 1985, he was booted from the company, as decided by the board of directors, and was out – quite publicly at that.
Seemingly without hesitation, Jobs founded NeXT and purchased The Graphics Group, now Pixar, from George Lucas. Jobs drove these companies with as much fervor as he drove Apple, and people took note. Pixar went on to make Toy Story, a box office hit and now legendary movie, and NeXT developed NeXTSTEP, the software that is at the root of Mac OS X and iOS. With Pixar and NeXT proving themselves as innovative and inventive, Jobs eventually made his way back into Apple by 1996, some 20 years after he founded it.
The rest is a history filled with iPods, iPads, iPhones, and the real proving ground for Apple. Jobs grew the companies, refined them, and set a true example of an innovative personality. It’s hard – nay, impossible – to deny that Jobs had that “gusto” so many seek to emulate. He refused to run from defeat and he refused to settle.
Perseverance in the Face of Uncertainty
Jobs was all about connecting the dots. He was about trusting in something – anything, be it “your gut, destiny, life, karma – whatever.” Trust, he said, would give you the confidence to follow your heart, even after it leads you off the well worn path. Whatever Jobs believed in, it’s clear he followed the right path (perhaps the only path he could have ever followed). Not only did he start some of the largest companies of today, but he crafted a family and personality that is not typical for a billionaire CEO.
Jobs, like everyone, couldn’t see into the future. That uncertainty never stopped him, though, and today we can all be glad it didn’t. Perseverance was Jobs’ best trait. Inventiveness was at the root of his character. Passion was what fueled his soul.
Rest in peace, Steve. You will be missed.