I learned about Steve Jobs passing while at our data center. I saw the image on the Apple website, displayed on an Apple display, being powered by a Macintosh MacBook Pro. In the hours that followed, I texted, chatted, and read tributes about Steve. All of them came to me via my iPhone or my iPad.
Beyond the obvious, Steve Jobs impacted our world in so many dimensions. For me, he gave me a career. Not at Apple directly, but as a 20+ year contractor. And, as part of the NeXT project as well. When I was with him, it was always obvious that he was so much more than just a techie. He was driven, focused, and determined – and it showed. It was King Arthur and Camelot.
I hired people from Apple when they left the company to work with us. When they left ours, they went back to Apple. We hired people who wanted to make a difference, and they did, becoming leaders of their own firms, or working at places like Honda, or Google, or other really innovative companies. Much of our culture was parallel to that of Apple, at least in terms of production, initiative, and optimism.
Steve did so much more than invent technologies. He created the most robust and remarkable technology ecosystem. The millions and millions of people that use Apple products integrate them into their lives. Every day. Every hour.
Steve’s leadership is something we can all learn from. When he and Woz got started, he was one of the crazy ones. It’s amazing that his uncivilized style got him past the Apple I. But it did. And he learned. By the time NeXT was operating just prior to being acquired by Apple, Steve had become a complete CEO. And his leadership style was true to his person – something we can all apply to ourselves. In an interview several weeks prior to coming back to Apple, he said, “The thing that went wrong at Apple was they stopped moving forward.” He went on to say, “They can still be a great company, but I think the answer is to innovate.” The past 15 years have demonstrated how true that statement was.
He changed my life. The lives of my crew, my friends, my family, and millions I’ll never meet are different now. And if we all push to be innovative in our own lives; in our own homes, communities and workplaces, we can change the world, too.
We’ll miss you, Steve. And we thank you for everything.