What a Job!
I contemplated on writing the blog on Jobs several times before this but somehow it wasn’t coming from within. Why now?
His death brought him in news probably more than his life did. Suddenly, everybody wanted to know what kind of man Steve Jobs was! As a columnist puts it, ‘‘Glowing obituaries appeared moments after his death was announced. He seemed to be eulogised as Silicon Valley’s radiant Sun King.’’ His biography is setting new sales record each passing day.
Not being a technology freak myself, it was unlikely of me to pay much attention to the Apple co-founder. I particularly read about him after he stepped down as Apple head and handed over the operations to Tim Cook. A few days later, I happened to read his Stanford address comprising three stories from his life. They were inspiring. Born out of a marriage that never really materialised and adopted by a lower middle class mechanist this college dropout went on to become a towering entrepreneur. I fell in love with the person, who had an outstanding understanding of life. He loved innovation so much that Steve described death as the biggest innovation of life. I believe that one’s greatness lies in one’s philosophy more than one’s products or entrepreneurial skills. To me, Steve was one of them.
His quotes started getting circulated and I became their honest reader. I had preordered his biography, which flipkart duly delivered. I had never planned to read it on priority, as my hands were full. As I started flipping through the book, I realised magnitude of the work of Walter Isaacson. I found it absorbing and finished it at the earliest possible (not solely because I have a great speed or I liked it so much. I had other commitments).
I contemplated on writing the blog on Jobs several times before this but somehow it wasn’t coming from within. Why now? The biography isn’t a triggering point. In fact, despite my love for him, I read the book objectively. Again, I don’t form an opinion based on a biography since I feel that here we see the person from the biographer’s eye. The book has thrown light on myriad shades of his personality and so has his sister, Mona Simpson’s eulogy.
I though of writing about him when I observed people become skeptical of him after learning many facts of his life through biography. It’s true he was a difficult man to live and work with. Innovative, intuitional, arrogant, unorganised, impatient, ruthless and brutally honest, unfair critic… Steve had many hues. He had hurt and insulted many people during the course. He would criticise everyone but could never take criticism. Not mere in diet but the person had too many quirks. To many, he was a fanatic. After learning these facts, people wondered was he really great?
I am not being judgmental. I may be wrong but I felt he had kind of split personality. To put it in his words, he was either ‘terrible’ or ‘amazing’. I could realise he had evolved with time. The great Steve, as we know him after the diagnosis of cancer.
His passion and craziness set him apart. Even on the hospital bed, he thought of innovation in X-ray machines and design ‘portable’ products for patients. More remarkable is the conviction he had in his ability to innovate. He never believed in market research as he believed one has to show people what they want. He once mentioned, “Henry Ford had said that if he would have asked people what they want, they would have probably told him a faster horse…”
That’s not all of Steve. The realisation of death seems to have matured him and also his perspective towards life. Illness got the better of him but it also bettered him as a person. In Apple, Pixar and Next, he created different worlds but he understood how fragile and unpredictable achievements become when death stares us in the face. This understating he had of life could be bigger than the biggest insult he could have ever made.
For me, getting into debates over his greatness makes no sense. Let’s look at him without being judgmental and realise how a person should and shouldn’t be. Steve had once said he was ready to trade all his technology for an afternoon with Socrates… This eye to life is more important than any other iis he had…