Steve Jobs: You Are Still the Coolest

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We’ve all heard the news by now:  Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple.  Though he will still be involved with the company since he’ll serve as Chairman of the Board, it’s fair to say that his day-to-day involvement with the company is at an end.

Back in the late 80s (gulp), I arrived at my first day on the job at an advertising agency and they sat me down in front of a Mac. I remember one of the first things I did that day was to take a tutorial designed to show me how to use the mouse.  A mouse?  What the heck was that thing and how did it work?  I soon learned.

Ever since that day I have been a certified Apple geek. For the most part it was a lonely little world, consisting of me and my ad buddies against the world. When I first joined AAR over 10 years ago, I was the only one on a Mac and it caused problems.  But I was unconcerned.  I knew the Mac was better and everybody else would eventually come around.

Then along came the iPod and all that changed.  The iPod not only revolutionized the way we listen to music, but it brought new people into the Mac fold.  Suddenly, we were no longer an exclusive little group of dedicated diehards.

Then came the iPhone.  And the iPad.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Steve Jobs has had a direct impact on my life and the lives of millions of others around the world.  Thanks to Jobs’ passion for designing a computer that worked so intuitively and so well, I am almost a helpless child on the few occasions when I’ve had to sit down in front of a PC.  He’s there when I download a song.  Or read a newspaper from London on my iPad.  Thanks to Jobs, my life is better.

There is another way Steve Jobs is unique:  He’s cool.  Utterly and completely.  Steve Jobs was no Bill Gates, God forbid.  In fact, Gates was someone I and other Apple minions laughed at.  I do that less now that he’s humanized by his wife and is now so active in charity work, but it’s still there.   Remember those Mac/PC commercials featuring Justin Long and John Hodgeman?

Frankly, I had a bit of a tough time with the whole iBookstore pricing stuff.  I’m not used to seeing Steve as the bad guy, and it was a bit tough taking a side that wasn’t Apple’s.

I am saddened today by the loss of Steve Jobs at the helm of Apple because now I think there will be fewer theatrical flourishes at product launches – and less excitement, as well.  I have confidence, however, that Apple will continue to innovate.

With regards to those theatrical flourishes, I found the video above today of the 1984 Macintosh launch.  He is a rock star, no doubt about it.

I know that many of you (most of you?) don’t share my Apple fandom, but I hope you will join me in wishing Steve Jobs the best of health.  Thanks, Steve.  You are still the coolest.

- Sandy AAR

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28 Responses to “Steve Jobs: You Are Still the Coolest”

  1. Barbie says:

    Despite the Fact I say that I am a child of the digital age, I admit it took a two semesters in my tech to get use to using an apple computer. My past experiences with the Mac Os was not good ones. Yet gradually I got use to it and since it became more user friendly i became to love it more than a PC. Now days I have my own mac and have plans to buy One of Mac’s current laptops. I think the main reason I love Macs is because it feels made for the individual operating it .

    I m sorry to say that my friends and family dont really know how to use a Mac and are clueless how get on the internet. I think after four years of ipods, Macs and Final cut pro ..I can declare my self a Mac lover over PC. ( not that PC are bad but they are all like to me , while any Mac Computer is customized in some way ).

    I m sadden to see steve jobs go yet I will be looking forward to the Next Gen. of items from Apple.

  2. lauren says:

    My son swears by all his Apple products…he is always saying “the best money I ever spent” “the only computer I will ever own” he can go on and on…My husband LOVES his iPad, of course I can “borrow” it anytime and I love it too.

    Mr. Jobs like Mr. Gates are brilliant men and its been a blessing to be living in this day and time to watch technology bloom…really more like explode…which is a good thing.

    Mr. Jobs will be missed…but his influence and his philosophy will not be forgotten.

  3. Lorraine says:

    We entered the Apple world last year when my husband asked for an ipod for Christmas last year. He’s rapidly become addicted to it but there is one feature on it that I love and that is facetime – we have a new grandson in England and facetime has enabled us to actually see Sam on a regular basis (rather than just photos and the odd emailed video). Our daughter had purchased an iphone4 late last year and hadn’t used facetime until her dad contacted her the week after Sam was born – to everyone’s amazement as we all had no idea you could do that on an ipod (I was in England for Sam’s birth but my husband stayed home.) One of the best gifts I ever gave him! Much more versatile than skype.

  4. Karenmc says:

    I’ve been using a Mac since 1986, doing graphics production. Can’t imagine working 40 hours a week on a PC, or having to deal with all the viruses and malware. Steve Jobs certainly has his idiosyncrasies (and the ebook pricing situation is one I’m not happy about), but he’s also been an amazing visionary.

  5. DabneyAAR says:

    I think this is still the best graduation speech I’ve ever heard.

    This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

    I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

    The first story is about connecting the dots.

    I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

    It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

    And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

    It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

    Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

    None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

    Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

    My second story is about love and loss.

    I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

    I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

    I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

    During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

    I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

    My third story is about death.

    When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “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.

    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.

    About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

    I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

    This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

    No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

    Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

    When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

    Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

    Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

    Thank you all very much.

  6. Gabi Stevens says:

    I too am a Mac fan. I write all my books on a Mac, and love how it feels, its reliability, etc. But that isn’t the reason I decided to leave a comment.

    The reason I’ve chosen to write is to thank DabneyAAR for posting Steve Jobs speech. I had never seen it before, and it was just what I needed to read. We writers can be pretty hard on ourselves. Sometimes our careers take turns we didn’t want or expect. Sometimes we just need to hear someone else’s perspective to keep plugging away at doing what we love.

  7. xina says:

    I’m a fairly new Apple fan. Just a year ago, I wanted a Kindle for my birthday. My husband, who is always surprising me with **one step above** what I originally ask for (I sent him out for a 100.00 Hoover at Target and he came back with a Dyson) plunked an ipad in my lap instead of my much awaited Kindle, and I actually looked at it in disgust. Grudgingly, I played with it a bit and stayed up for much of the night in awe of my new toy. Then came my iphone a few months ago. In love. seriously.

  8. DabneyAAR says:

    Gabi–

    I read that speech at least once a year. I am a mom to four kids, ages 15 to 20. Job’s words help me remember that often the path less taken is the one that takes you where you ultimately want to be.

    Also, my idea of hell would be a world with no writers. I thank the powers that be every day for all the wonderful books, articles, songs, shows, and websites (that those that generate them) that enrich my life.

  9. DJ says:

    I’ve spent years trying to convince my workplace to switch to Macs. But it’s as if Windows has beamed out an invisible laser that has burned out their ability to see how wonderful Macs are for everything. Ah well.

  10. A few months ago, I finally bought an iPod (with 160 GB!!), and I finally realized what all the fuss was about. The other MP3 players I tried just didn’t cut it. (Heck, they cry in shame when my iPod walks past.) And then it happened. Thursday night, I took a walk in the mall, and I wandered into the Apple store and, well, cough, I bought an iPad. :D Now I’m not ready to get a Mac notebook or desktop yet (that’s a bigger investment), but I have certainly been enjoying my iPad.

    It turns out that a hurricane weekend is the perfect time to be a new iPad owner. Tracking hurricanes? Yes, there’s an app for that. (And apps for listening to the local news radio station, reading books, reading comics and manga, making monster trucks do back wheelies, and running over zombies.)

  11. DabneyAAR says:

    I love my iPad. I have a ZAGG keyboard and a pointer and it beats the snot out of my lap top for most all I do. It really is an amazing product.

    This summer my husband and I were in Copenhagen, lazy after a long day, and the TV in our hotel was on the fritz. I pulled out my iPad, went to iTunes and we rented “The King’s Speech.” I couldn’t have imagined that option even four years ago. Thank you Steve Jobs.

  12. Debbie says:

    So when do we get an ARR app? Love the post, love the speech and love you ARR!

  13. AAR Sandy says:

    I was sick this weekend, so my apologies on getting back to this post so late. Dabney, thanks for posting that. I like to think I’m still hungry. Whether I’m still foolish is another question. Anne, welcome to the iPad! Have you discovered HBOGO? It’s my favorite app ever.

    Debbie, an AAR app is probably not coming any time soon. (They cost multi thousands of dollars to develop. Gulp.) But we are in the process of developing a mobile version of the site. Almost as good, right?

  14. Jo-Ann W. says:

    Ah, well. I admire Mr. Jobs’ longevity and career and I think Apple puts out excellent products, but as a whole, I detest Apple. A lot. I mean, a whole lot. For lots of reasons I won’t go into, but on this site I’ll state the ebook pricing debacle as a reason very high up on the list.

  15. Lady Pralle says:

    Took me time to scan all the comments, however I very enjoyed the article. It proved to be terribly useful to me and I am sure to all or any the commenters here! It is usually nice when you’ll be able to not only be told, but conjointly engaged! I’m sure you had joy scripting this article.

  16. Twyla Samorano says:

    my boyfriend told me today that apparently Apple are giving away free stock in honour of Steve Jobs. have a look at http://remembersteve.org

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