I am very saddened by the death of Steve Jobs which is really surprising to me. I am not one to usually mourn famous people, I feel badly for their passing but mourning is reserved for people I actually know and have feelings for. I also am surprised by how much this has affected me because I, while I love my iPad and various other "i" things, am not the Mac (there I go dating myself) aka Apple cultish follower. Yes, you know who you are...can't say a bad thing about the product even when it is true. I find their products good but I find many PC products good also. So why am I sad about the loss of Steve Jobs other than on a human level? I think it is because I so admire his innovation, his leadership, his ability to be Willie Wonka of the tech world, willing to never think "No" is an the final answer. His management style has now made the lexicon of many a consultant charging high fees to make others as devoted as Apple employees seem to be to Jobs....with little or no success. His style is called "guru" management (am sure there may be other terms) and it is the idea that the people who you manage follow you because they believe in your vision...yeah good luck trying to teach that. By many accounts he, like Willie Wonka, was not necessarily the nicest, warmest, fuzzy type of boss. He could be hurtful, abrupt, harsh on any ideas that did not meet his genius level of accomplishment and quite the bully. Yet his employees were loyal and continued not to only work for him but to want to work for him. You cannot buy that from a consultant because it is the antithesis of what consulting is...it is saying "I believe in me not what others tell me".
I am sad by his passing because he was my real Willie Wonka ....the man who could dream it and somehow it got made. I loved his innovation, his ability to see a 3D cube where we all saw a 2D square, to make technology that was people friendly....he is the reason I carry my music in my phone and buy it on the go, the reason I read electronically (and we all know I was not a convert...still not 100% one), the reason for so much enthusiasm before he would speak and share with us those many hours spent in secret which were sure to thrill us, make us line up and feel like the tooth fairy/Santa Claus colluded to give us the best present ever to wake up to just for being asleep when we were supposed to be . He, and yes Gates and the Google guys and even Zuckerberg, made super smart super cool. He was the child with the power to make a world, that the adults who are doing such a good job screwing up, rally together and embrace his vision. Someone pointed out to me that he was the man who was admired and mourned by both the rasta haired Wall Street Occupiers as much as the white collared Wall Street occupants. I mourn his loss because at first I thought we had no one who could or would replace him, that we in some way had come to a standstill in the people driven technology development area. However, in speaking about it today with a friend who said these same things to me I realized that no one thought there would be another Edison, Einstein, Ford and there weren't because there should not be, that would be stagnant and repetitive....we need their next generation which will bring it's own greatness and developments to the world. Jobs was the quintessential blue jean wearing American...slightly brazen, unwilling to follow rules, not married to old world traditions, eternal optimist..he showed us that though kids here do not score as high as they do on standardized tests in other countries...a fact that makes me smile...you need to understand the why, not memorization, to say "why not?".
The day after Jobs died I went to a program at my 2nd grader's school called "Teaching in the 21st Century". It was about the new curriculum that the 48 internal state governors agreed to starting next year. We heard how education has not changed in it's core since 19th century, designed for many jobs that are now obsolete, and this new curriculum is about getting them college and career ready. It was so exciting to hear about it and how the education system finally is changing from "we have always done it this way" to understanding that the kids know what they need and how they need it. They mentioned that this generation is made of "digital natives", which is so true, so we need to have a school system and teachers who are comfortable moving in this direction. I am excited because they are embracing the Steve Jobs, Google, Gates personality ...welcome kids to the generation of endless possibilities, the generation of innovation, the generation that maybe just maybe can find common ground and a place to fix the world using this new curriculum which is all about Community, Creative Thinking, Collaboration, Communication...These are the kids in that famous 1984 Mac commercial who will not continue to accept black and grey as the colors of their vision but create a rainbow colored apple.
Rest in Peace Steve Jobs. I am going to miss you, I am thrilled to have been part of the generation that first met you and your wondrous ideas and I wish to extend a warm welcome to your successors whoever they may be...I cannot wait to see what he or she unveils!!!!!!!
"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. ... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do." Steve Jobs upon his return to Apple in 1997