Steve Jobs Has Passed Away
This evening, Steve Jobs passed away surrounded by his family at the age of 56. He was many things to many people: to many of us, he is the reason for what we do and who we are. But, as is often the case, he was more things, to more people, than anyone can express.
A sensitive soul
Steve dedicated his life to bringing mankind the future long before we knew what it was. But by all accounts he was also a devoted father and dedicated family man. Despite having altered not one, but eight separate industries, he still had time to share his life with his loved ones. His legacy proves it is possible to do transformative, world-changing work and still have time to care deeply.
The world’s great enabler
As an innovator and pioneer, Jobs was without equal. “I want to put a ding in the universe,” he famously declared; it turned out he would do much more than that. Who could have imagined that Steve’s vision–borne entirely of his own instincts, without a shred of outside feedback, approval or testing–could guide the entire world with such force? And who could have foreseen that Steve Jobs himself– on his own– would be the epicenter of ten or twenty revolutions?
From digital filmmaking to 3D animation to the technology that would put media, music and meaning in our pockets, Steve’s influence extends across every facet of our culture.
Before Steve Jobs, computers were the size of rooms and were off-limits to anyone without advanced degrees. Now, a metal-and-glass sculpture that fits in your hand can literally do anything you ask of it. Even talk.
Seeing the power–and promise– of technology was always Steve’s greatest gift: he always found new ways to show us what we could do.
The immortal inventor
Jobs was nothing short of a legend. No. He was more real, more tangible than that. He was a true leader. Of ideas, of workers, of markets, of industries. Ultimately, Steve made the future we live in today. He let us harness our own best qualities and make them even better. He gave us a “bicycle for the mind”. A way to go places faster. He gave us the tools to be our best selves. And he reveled in blowing our minds and changing our lives once a year, like clockwork, until the very day he died. There can be no closer thing to immortality than his surviving through what he has given us. How many of us found out about the news on a device he invented?
One of man’s great teachers
What Steve taught us is simple. It’s also complex.
Do what you love. Pursue simplicity. Be patient. Trust your instincts. Commit fully. Make things better, not just different. Chase what’s next, not what’s happened. Do the best job you can– and take as long as it takes to do it right.
Above all, Steve would say, do what it takes to make things more human. That’s the cornerstone of all Apple’s work, and the key that no other company “gets”. When other companies chased numbers and slogans, Steve chased visions no one else had.
Much of Steve Jobs’ approach — both to technology and to life — was summed up in the commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005– two years after first being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In discussing his life, he remarks,
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart… Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
It’s undoubtedly one of the most wrenching and inspirational speeches of our era, and there’s a reason it’s been making the rounds as word of his death has spread. I encourage you to watch it: it’s one of the best 15 minutes you’ll ever spend online.
“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”
The world lost a little bit of magic tonight, and our future is a little less clear. “He changed the way each of us sees the world,” notes Barack Obama. “From the earliest days of Google, whenever Larry and I sought inspiration for vision and leadership, we needed to look no farther than Cupertino,” writes Google CEO Sergey Brin. (More great quotes are here.) Flags flew at half-staff across California– as far North as Redmond, WA, the home of Microsoft. The repeated mantra I keep hearing is “I didn’t think it would hurt so much.” Even those of us who never met him felt as though we’ve lost something in his absence. And the truth is, we have.
With Steve Jobs gone, I can only hope that his relentless pursuit of quality, of humanness, of emotional resonance will continue to guide Apple– and the world– for years to come.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”
Thank you for doing something wonderful, Steve. We’ll miss you.