Thank you Steve
When Steve Jobs passed away, it was the first time that I was so disturbed by the death of someone famous. It took me many days before I could even think straight – having such a hard time understanding how I would function without such an influential element in my life.
Steve is very much the primary influence in my interest in technology. From the first time I saw an Apple II, I have been mesmerized by his thinking, vision and determination. He’s the one that got me into computer programming (I remember bugging my parents for months until I got my own Apple II) and ultimately computer graphics. Back then, computers were an amazing source of innovation – you had no choice as you did not have many applications to play with – programming was the way to go. And this pushed me toward finishing my studies in Computer Engineering.
The Mac has influenced many people – this was not the one for me. The work that Steve did while at NeXT completely blew my mind and got me thinking about the aesthetics of software, usability and really thinking out of the box. It also was a great lesson on time to market – NeXT being way too many years ahead of its time. Steve’s passion and desire to make a dent in the universe forced me to think about my own path and what I wanted to do. This burning passion got me to start a company with a few of my friends – Kaydara.
Very much like every entrepreneur, I took the long road of learning what it means to be a CEO. There is a fundamental difference between starting a company and running a successful business. Again, many of my life lessons on how to become a good CEO came from watching Steve as he came back to Apple. I don’t think I have missed a single of his keynote (in person or on the web). His approach on simplifying the message, focusing on what is key and how to be a leader all impacted my own style. At the same time, I learn the hard way that being somewhat of a tyrant was not a good thing (some of my first employees can attest to that). But over the years I have matured and mellowed – finding a style that I both like and people around me can relate to and appreciate. Finding your own leadership style is probably one of the hardest things to do, as there is no recipe or secret ingredient.
In the later years, Steve’s quest to simplify our digital lifestyle continued to influence me in different ways. For one, my house is filled with Apple products: one Mac, 5 MacBook Pro, at least 5 iPods, one iPhone, an iPad and a couple of Apple TVs. Some people could call me a Apple freak … Also I once saw a quote from Steve saying that “Software is the user experience” – something I deeply believe in and have made me think of usability in every product I have been involved with – both from a product management point of view but also from a marketing angle.
I will always remember what I felt when I first heard about Steve’s passing. I often get up from the couch and go check my computer to see if there is any emails or news that is worth reading – my home page when I start Safari is the default startpage on the Apple site. It took me a few minutes to really grasp the simple image of Steve with a start and end date. I was in shock.
For days following the news, I did like many people did – revisit Steve’s legacy and re-read many of his famous quotes, including his beautiful commencement speech at Stanford. There is a lot of great content in there but the one that is still resonating in my head is: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
The sense of urgency is a great tool to help you make decision about life – both personally and professionally. Who knows how long you will live and stay in good health? If you have a burning desire to achieve things in life, don’t waste your time, focus on what is really important and let you passion lead the way.
Steve, thank you for everything you brought in my life – you have given me so many life lessons, making me a better person every day.