Steve Jobs by George Mole
As any one who knows me well will tell you, I love Apple. Sure, their products may be over priced, some even label them as pretentious, but they are no doubt magnificent. When deciding on a topic for this article and following my childlike fascination with all things Apple, I inherently arrived at Steve Jobs, possibly the most brilliant and influential man of his generation. Yet reading his biography is a bit like watching Forrest Gump. By this, I mean it makes you feel like shit. What have you done with your life recently? Forrest earned the medal of honour, captained a successful shrimping boat, and ran across the breadth of America at least 4 times, just because he could. I’m sure most readers haven’t done any of these things and nor have I. Quite frankly, I’m okay with that. But, Jobsy was a real guy, a fantastically quirky, intense messiah to the business world. But again, he was a real guy – no different to you or I, and by the end of his short life, Jobs had revolutionised 6 different industries.
Jobs experimented with hallucinogenic drugs, sleep deprivation, and travelled to India in an attempt to reach spiritual enlightenment with his college room mate, Dan Kottke, all before he became ‘over night’ millionaire aged 23, by co-founding Apple Computer, Co. in his parents garage. I don’t think the lack of parallels between Steve’s and our lives needs to be highlighted… But he wasn’t bothered by the money. He had stones. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, all the time. This was demonstrated by pretty much all of his life decisions prior to Apple, such as dropping out of college. But everything just seemed to work out. When he persuaded Reed College to allow him to drop in on classes he wanted to take, for example, he discovered calligraphy and brought amazing typography to the personal computer. When he began his search for spiritual enlightenment, the concept of Zen Buddhism – which is very much minimalist and lustrous – inspired Steve in every respect. He was famously photographed as a young entrepreneur, sitting cross-legged on his living room floor without any surrounding furniture (except one lamp).
His legacy of products evoke such powerful emotions that they divide society. You know that some people ignorantly proclaim, “I’m a PC” just to attack those of us who are lucky enough to say, “I’m a Mac” and for no other reason. It is utterly ludicrous! Even though it is a perfectly valid choice to buy an iPad and use it where ever you please, at University you become ‘that guy,’ or even, ‘the iPad guy.’ It’s never good to feel ostracized, especially for a great consumer choice. Hence, Stephen Fry was correct in illustrating that no other company in the world has accomplished what Apple has in this respect. People are divided.
However, everyone does the same thing. They wait. They know that Apple will release it’s next generation of products at certain times and so, like Pavlov’s dog after the bell rings, they wait. Now, how many people do you know that is waiting for the next Sony Walkman, Google Phone, or Archos tablet? Now, how many do you know that are waiting for the iPhone 5? I thought so…Once someone uses an Apple product, they are immersed in a completely synchronised world of music, photos, email and calendars that is not only beautiful, powerful, and efficient, it just works too. Again, this is no coincidence. Since Jobs was a child, painting his garden fence with his Dad at the weekend, he learned an invaluable lesson that transcribes into every element of his legacy. The things you can’t see, need to be as beautiful as those you can. This in my opinion, this is what gives Apple their edge. A device that has it’s software made bespoke to fit its hardware, creates an all mighty device that no other product can rival.
It can therefore be noted that Jobs risk taking, ‘everything will be okay’ attitude is magnetic. I sat down ready to write an article about the under appreciated Steve Wozniak…now look where we are! Just reading Jobs biography had me, a suburban, middle-class, quasi-nerd contemplating a trip into the unknown realm of LSD. We’ll have to wait and see about that one…I’ll keep you informed. But my point is that this extraordinary man was so because of his attitude and outlook on life.
This article has allowed me to vent my knowledge of Steve on a new audience, (to the relief of my housemates) but also is acting as a vehicle to inspire a bit more affirmative action. If you want something, go get it. It worked for Steve.
“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”