“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use."
The man, the myth, the legend. Our Creative Hero this week won’t need much of an introduction. Steve Jobs is arguably one of the most influential people of our modern age. In fact, how many of you are reading this article right now from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer?
A creator. A builder. A dreamer. A few of the many characteristics that became the backbone of how we know and remember Steve Jobs to this day. And this week, we do a short profile of the man and his profound innovations in the technology and user experience space.
Curiosity Leads to Innovation
From a young age, Jobs was curious. His father, Paul Jobs, was a machinist and fixed cars as a side hobby. Steve recalls his father being very talented with his hands and Steve followed closely behind him, just in a different industry. Steve’s passion was in electronics and new technology.
Steve lived with his family in Mountain View, CA, during the boom of Silicon Valley, the nickname given to the area because of the growing number of electronics companies and more specifically, the number of companies involved in making semiconductors, a part used in most electronics. Perhaps influenced by his geographical surroundings or perhaps simply enamored by new age technology, Steve set out to learn computers at an early age. This mission took him places like the Hewlett-Packard Explorers Club and eventually, a summer job at the large tech firm.
Not one for conventional group activities or team sports, Jobs paved his own way early on in life. He followed his interests and let curiosity guide him. He attended college in Oregon for a couple years until making a decision to travel to India to study eastern religions and a culture vastly different than his own.
The Value in Partnerships
When you think of Apple as a company, it’s likely Steve Jobs is founder you think of. But some of the real genius of Apple in its early stages was not Steve Jobs alone. He had help. While in high school, Jobs met Steve Wozniak, a technical whiz who was attending Berkeley at the time. The two started Apple in Jobs’ family home in 1976. The relationship between the two was one of healthy tension; Jobs paving the way for business development, sales, and user experience while Wozniak fit the role of technical founder. Together, they saw an opportunity in the market to shrink what were then massive computers to something more manageable for the personal user.
Jobs’ study of people and culture combined with Wozniak’s technical knowhow allowed the two to build, market, and sell something (the Apple II) that people may not have known they wanted.
If You Get Knocked Down...
It wasn’t long after the Steve’s released the Apple II that the company went public in 1980. But this also marked a time of turbulence in Apple and Steve Jobs’ history. In 1985, Jobs stepped down from his role at Apple, a seemingly mutual decision by the CEO he hired and the Apple board of directors.
Ever the innovator, Jobs started NeXT, Inc., a competing computer company. Although not officially confirmed, it’s thought that Jobs ran NeXT with intent to prove his value to Apple and to create an opportunity for him to make his way back to the company he co-founded.
While at NeXT, Jobs leveraged his creative genius to build and market a computer appealing to the eye and higher in price than competing Apple products. And in the face of recent defeat, Jobs’ perseverance and creativity with NeXT resulted in Apple’s acquisition of the company in 1996. Shortly after, Jobs was restored as CEO of Apple.
And the rest, as you may know, is history... sitting in the palm of your hand.
What does it mean to be truly innovative? Well, perhaps Steve Jobs can help us understand that from his viewpoint.
“I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
It’s easy to remember Steve Jobs as the guy who invented the iPod and iPhone. And yes, without a doubt, those products are revolutionary. They have forever changed the way we consume music, communicate, connect, etc. What’s really remarkable about Steve Jobs was his ability to identify consumer desires before they actually existed. MP3 players (the iPod is an MP3 player) existed prior to the iPod. But do you remember any of them? Blackberry dominated the smartphone market before the iPhone. Today, Blackberry is a company on life support and the iPhone is being emulated by companies like Samsung, HTC, and more.
To be truly innovative is to be courageous in your drive and thinking. In the example of Steve Jobs, it took courage to buck the industry norms and as a result, we have Apple.
Why is Steve Jobs our Creative Hero of the Week?
Our Creative Heroes are people that inspire us to create, innovate, and build. What’s written above is only a small part of the legacy Steve Jobs left behind after his passing in 2011. There are numerous qualities that justify our admiration for his mind and appreciation for the products he pioneered. But from the many qualities he possessed, we narrowed down a couple that we can all aspire to, especially that youngster destined to be the next Steve Jobs.
- Live curiously: The world is full of knowledge. Be open minded and curious. Never stop learning.
- You don’t have to go it alone: In fact, in many cases, the value of multiple minds is greater than the value of a single mind. Steve needed his partner, Steve Wozniak. Jobs recognized his strengths and understood that Apple had the best chance of succeeding with “Woz” at his side.
- Perseverance: Life comes at you fast. Even at a young age, it’s important to begin to understand failure and how to learn from it. Apple is currently the most valuable company in the world and much of that can be credited to Steve Jobs. What would have happened if Jobs gave up after he left the company in 1985. Would we have the iPhone today?
- Innovate: It can be scary to go against the grain. It takes great courage, imagination, and really hard work to be innovative but just as we stated with curiosity, never stop.