There I was, watching the Phillies-Cardinals game with Mike Montero at a pub near my apartment, feigning interest, all the time checking the Twitter feed, when I saw an alert from WSJ: Steve Jobs is dead. I will remember that very minute – bottom of the fifth, Game four. Suddenly, everything went out of focus. I could hear the blood pounding my head; tears welled up in my eyes.
It is perhaps the only time that I didn’t care for the news; I didn’t want to write that story. Why doesn’t the world realize that my Elvis is dead! I don’t care about news. I don’t care about a world that is a lot less exciting than it was when Steve was around. I don’t care what our readers might want to know. Can’t you see that my soul is being put through a meat grinder.
Every generation has its heroes. I was too provincial to love the Beatles and cry over John Lennon. I was too Indian to care much about Elvis. And I read about President Kennedy in books. But for me, Steve Jobs was all of those people. I don’t know why, how and where that happened but Jobs was my icon.
For many of us who live and die for technology and the change it represents, he was an example of what was possible, no matter how the chips were stacked against you. Jobs put life and soul into inanimate objects. Everyone saw steel, silicon and software; he saw an opportunity to paint his Mona Lisa. People saw a phone; Steve saw a transporter of love. People saw a tablet; he saw smiles and wide-eyed amazement. They made computers; he made time machines that brought us all together through a camera, screen and a connection.
Mac, iPod and iPhone — they are like Silicon Valley’s Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker and E.T. — magical, memorable and life-changing. And perhaps that is why I didn’t want to meet him, interview him or even talk to him. I had the opportunity on numerous occasions when I was attending Apple’s events, but I decided not to. To me, just the idea of Steve was powerful enough.
The idea of Steve led me to follow my heart, make tough choices, be brutally honest with myself (and sometimes annoying to people I love) and always remember that in the end, it is all about making your customers happy. There are simple ways to get along with everyone. There are easier ways to get things done. There are compromises. But to me Steve Jobs meant try harder, damn it, your customers (readers) expect better than that. Steve taught me to care about the little things, because in the end, little things matter.
Steve was my secret muse. Trust me –- he is a secret muse to many of us in the valley. Mark Zuckerberg. Jeff Bezos. Dave Morin. Jack Dorsey. We are all part of the tribe called Jobs. There is a whole generation of entrepreneurs who ask themselves this one question –- what will Steve do. Natch. What would have Steve done!
P.S. I wrote about Steve’s resignation as CEO of Apple earlier. It sums up a lot of my feelings – then and today.
51 thoughts on “The Tao of Steve”
Om, when I learnt about the news from a text, the first thing that came to my mind was your article that said,”…He wouldn’t be making this decision unless things were pretty dire.” Your words were prescient.
When you wrote that last piece in response to Jobs resignation, the last thing I wanted to believe was that this day would come so soon. Such a mental contrast to yesterday when we went ‘crazy’ after watching the keynote to submit our upgrade for iOS 5. As an artist, I was always hoping for that crazy day when Steve might notice. I think that’s what so many developers are doing, trying to get his attention. He’ll remain a role model for millions of excellence, perfectionism and the core values that I believe Apple will continue to emulate for some time. I wonder if he can see now how loved he was by so many?
Came across this quote in a tweet “Don’t be sad because it’s over. Smile because it happened. — Dr. Seuss”
Great quote Robert. Thanks.
Amazing quote from another amazing icon. Thanks.
Om, thanks for the post, Steve was not just one of a kind, he was the One and only…
You’ve captured my feelings exactly. Steve Jobs defined what can be done when you don’t settle for mediocrity. Steve was truly an icon and will be greatly missed.
3 apples changed the world:
1. Adam’s Eve ate apple and human race started
2. Isaac Newton saw falling apple and enhanced the human race
3. Steve Jobs created apple and took the human race to the next level.
All entrepreneur’s thinks the same.
Lovely article, Om. His legend will live on…
Couldn’t have said it better. Thank you.
Well said. He was an important hero. The prototype of innovation we all chase.
Thank you, Om.
Remember the Manhole? What other computer would have a secret hole into which the user would fall and have magical adventures late into the night trying to find his way out?
For the first few seconds after I had read the news, my world came crashing down on me. Then I looked at my iPhone – the device that conveyed the message and I smiled through the tears… Steve’s legacy has just began and it will never end!
OM, that’s exactly I feel about this sad demise. thanks for writing this post.
It just doesnt seem real. Seems like come WWDC2012 Steve will come on stage and amaze us all again with his one more thing…bawling
Strangely enough today I am thinking about all that less-than-stellar experiences I had with Apple: The Mac Portable (my first and last 7.2 kg “Laptop”), the first Mac OS X 10.0 (no,it did not work as advertised), the first iPhone (great, as long as you did not try to actually call someone).
But then again about the great moments in my 20 years as an Apple fan: Mac LC (the “Pizzabox”, my entry ticket to the Apple world), The Newton (Everything Palm copied and more) , The App stores (I always loved to collect software like in the old days).
Someone who met Steve Jobs a couple of times told me his amazement how deeply involved he was in every little detail of Apple products. It could ruin your day as an Apple employee if you spent months in the making and Steve simply didn’t like it. But I guess that was his magic as well. He simply knew it better. Every single future Apple product will be measured by his standards.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks.
Maybe chinese culture metaphors aren’t the best choice here.. what’s that? No big outpour of grief from the floors of Foxconn? Weird. I half expected you to go all “cultural revolution” on us.. also without irony. Disappointing. From the Internet’s outpouring of grief he clearly had a bully pulpit.. what the hell did he do with it at the end of the day?
nice note, Om
Thank you for saying what many are feeling.
The less smart phones I have, the less tablets ,the less PCs’ at home, the less social networks I consult, the less TV I watch – the happier I am !
You said it right and from the heart Om. He was indeed a secret muse to all of us – showing us that there was more and better we could always do. @deepakslore
Your words go straight to the heart. Steve is the ultimate icon for us who live tech. Our role model.
iSad, iGrieve, iSalute
Probably one of my favorite pieces written. So humble, void of ego and raw. Thanks Om for sharing your reaction with us.
iSad, RIP Steve Jobs.
Can you contact me about this? Richard@indiawest.com
I understand you, Om. When he announced that he was stepping down I had a feeling why, but I refused to think about it.
Then yesterday I was joking around with my teenage son when the report came through. I couldn’t speak. I sat there… numb. And for the rest of the evening I was oddly silent.
Steve meant a lot to millions of people. He will be sorely missed.
Om, I recall you telling a room full of people in 1996 that the NeXT purchase was the dumbest thing Apple ever did, because “they just paid 400 million dollars for unix”.
I learnt an important lesson from that encounter, to follow my own instincts and be skeptical of “experts”.
There will never be another. He will be greatly missed!
There is a whole generation of entrepreneurs who ask themselves this one question –- what will Steve do. Natch. What would have Steve done!
I found myself asking this question of not just Steve, but all great talent. More to the point is how do they create, innovate, the process is the key.
Thanks for sharing your story. Here is my tribute to Steve’s success (Think Differently). R.I.P., Steve Jobs. http://goo.gl/Tahxq
When Steve came to the fork in the road he not only took the path less traveled he turned it into a thoroughfare of innovation and beauty. RIP Steve. You have left this world a better place and we are the beneficiaries.
When Steve came to the fork in the road, he not only took the path less traveled, he turned it into a thoroughfare of innovation and beauty. RIP Steve. You left the world a better place and we are the beneficiaries.
As an Occupational Therapist struggling to establish our company in rural Missouri , I have always been inclined to and believed in the core principle of Steve Jobs – to have passion for work you do and to persevere… He and Randy Pausch have always been inspirational to me oddly coincidental with their demise of pancreatic cancer. I also owe a personal gratitude to the I phone 3GS . 3 yrs ago , when my brother was recovering from a brain injury , the assessment of his cognitive assault was an easy task .He picked up the phone , texted and attempted to recall phone numbers , constantly stayed in touch and updated his recovery with pictures with feedback using both hands ( he had left side weakness). Again the technology used therapeutically assisted in complete recovery . So there we go again .. Steve’s invention used in a mighty big way .. My sincere tribute to Steve for invoking the urge to use finger tips and both hands to hold the phone and much more which enabled my brother to recover completely … And OM the article you wrote is very powerful , filled with outpouring of emotions that all of us relate to and sincere. Regards
Babita Patnaik .
Seen it just now. Do not know how I missed it, but this indeed is one of the most emotional pieces about him. Thanks
you have put into words what I couldn’t – thank you for your insight, your honesty and your imagination… a perfect tribute.
Had similar reactions when I saw the news appear in my Twitter stream. For reasons beyond my own comprehension, the loss of Steve Jobs seems so personal, so close. Just this morning, I wrote my personal tribute to Steve Jobs making special mention of the legendary Stevenotes. His brilliance and his vision of what the future should be combined magically to give the world path-breaking innovations. I’ll miss him… and for a very very long time to come I am sure.
Well said, but how does this in any way relate to the Tao?
The Tao of Steve http://t.co/2lPnARsM
This is for you to check http://t.co/Ma9GlmW2
The Tao of Steve http://t.co/o38pBmpc
Om, you have said it all. Ciao!