My Teacher Steve Jobs began as a series of Facebook posts I wrote in the Fall of 2011. Each was a memory of a crazy time I had spent with Steve when I was president of The Boston Computer Society. I had always felt a deep personal connection with Steve's idealism, vision, and sense of having a quiet calling in his life. I believe Steve left all of us a legacy far beyond business or technology; a legacy that reaches into our deepest hopes for the progress of humanity. These vignettes were the beginning of a journey for me, of piecing together what I learned from Steve and seeking to understand Steve's own quiet inner calling.
The Day I Met Steve Jobs
When I was 18, I found myself sitting in the presence of my greatest childhood hero and one of the most legendary perfectionists of modern times. How does one go about trying to impress the ultimate perfectionist?
Back in 1977
Before Apple, a computer that you could buy for your home or office was called a "microcomputer." The name referred to the microprocessor brain that made these machines cheaper than minicomputers or mainframes. In 1977, Apple changed everything when it introduced the term "personal computer." Apple saw itself not as making a smaller minicomputer, but as creating something totally new: A tool that could empower people to expand their innate abilities. The same idea was taking root back in Boston, with the beginning of The Boston Computer Society.
Happy 35th Birthday Apple - Facebook Version
Breakfast with Steve
What is it like being Earth's Most Eligible Bachelor? To my amazement, I learned all about this and more during a surreal breakfast with Steve Jobs in 1982. While this might sound odd, from listening to how Steve talked about his dating experiences, I feel like I know how he would respond today to some of the misguided ideas people have about his management techniques at Apple.
He's a Maniac
Steve was never someone to be constrained by "rules" or etiquette. This piece is about a dinner I organized with Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and the technology editors of the The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and several other esteemed publications. The dinner was at one of the most expensive and exclusive restaurants in America, L'Espalier. Suddenly—with no warning—Steve stood up in the middle of the dinner and began to speak to the entire restaurant. What he said would change the rest of my life.
Fifteen Minutes of Fame
Steve's crazy impulsiveness turned my world upside down. In one day, I went from being an awkward, nervous teenager to becoming a mini media celebrity. All of a sudden, newspapers, magazines and TV shows from across the country wanted to interview me. The wildest experience of all was getting a phone call from a producer at CBS Evening News. He said that CBS News was going to have Charles Osgood follow me for two days of my life.
The "Think Different" Campaign
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, the company was less than 90 days from bankruptcy. Steve made some of the boldest moves of his career to avert Apple's demise. One of the most radical was a national advertising campaign called "Think Different." It featured stark images of many of Steve's greatest personal role models, including Mohandas Gandhi, John Lennon, Albert Einstein, and Pablo Picasso. The campaign was launched with a network TV ad narrated by Richard Dreyfus called "The Crazy Ones."
"The Crazy Ones" - In Steve's Words
Unbeknownst to people outside of Apple, its advertising agency Chiat/Day created two versions of the 1997 "The Crazy Ones" TV ad. One was narrated by Richard Dreyfus; the second by Steve Jobs. At the last minute, Steve decided to run the Richard Dreyfus version. Dreyfus does a brilliant job on the narration, but emphasizes very different points than Steve did in his personal version. At a memorial service for Steve at the Apple Campus shortly after his death, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces Steve Jobs' personal version of the ad. The ad won the 1998 Emmy Award for Best Commercial.
The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs
In this Harvard Business Review article, Steve Jobs' biographer, Walter Isaacson, applies extensive research and rigorous logic to explain the keys to Steve's success as a leader. The problem, though, is that almost none of what Steve did makes any sense within the conventional Western paradigm of business analysis. First, you need to understand what Steve meant by "Think Different" and how Eastern wisdom teachings shaped Steve.
The Not-So-Important Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs - Facebook
The Not-So-Important Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs - PDF
What Did He Mean by "Think Different"?
The "Think Different" series was far more than a marketing campaign; it was a profoundly personal expression of Steve Jobs' deepest values and life mission. It's important to understand that "Think Different" is not a grammatical error (even though "Think Differently" sounds more correct). "Think" is not about doing; it is about being. He is not saying "do things differently" but "be different." In Steve's own words, people who think different "change things; they push the human race forward."
What Did Steve Mean by 'Think Different'? - Facebook
What Did Steve Mean by 'Think Different'? - PDF
"Death Is Life's Change Agent"
At Stanford's 2005 commencement, Steve roused graduates to live each day as if it was their last and to "never settle" for pursuing anything less than their life's deepest passions. I have followed each of Steve's lessons—so eloquently codified in this speech—for years with great determination. The morning after Steve died, I started to "connect the dots" myself on how many ways he had redirected my life away from fear and toward my own deepest passions. I wrote this posting that morning in gratitude and love to Steve and his family.
My Journey Begins
When Steve Jobs died in 2011, my world collapsed. Three days before Steve's death, my relationship with my life partner and soulmate ended. The next day, my amazing grandmother and guardian angel was diagnosed as terminally ill. In 96 hours, I had lost my three greatest mentors. I decided a week later to move to Los Angeles to be with my grandmother for the final chapter of her life and to learn what Steve had awoken in me during our 30 year friendship. It was the beginning of a journey for me unlike anything I have ever known.