I never met Steve Jobs, but in many ways, I felt that I knew him. When I was around the age of 10, I went on a field trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL. Interacting with the people there set my mind ablaze. When we returned home, I got out of the car, looked across the hood at my mother and said, “Mom, I’m going to do great things.” She responded reassuringly, “I know.” My mother believed in what I had said. She believed in me.
By the measure of Steve Jobs, nothing I’ve done in my life qualifies as “great”, but with the exclusion of one thing. I made the decision to become an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is not about making money. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, it is about “doing the other things.” It’s making a decision that you believe in yourself enough to go out and forge a new path along which others will follow. I cannot think of an individual who embodied this spirit more than Steve Jobs. Throughout his life, when the chips were down and things appeared to be going in the wrong direction, Steve Jobs had the belief and courage to stick to his ideas and persevere. Many of the products that we take for granted today were panned by others in the industry at the time of launch. How did Steve Jobs know that these products would be a success?
To many, Steve Jobs was perceived as some kind of ruthless dictator within his company; always demanding that things be done his way. But the reality is that while some reached for the stars, Steve Jobs reached for our lives. Steve Jobs didn’t make his products beautiful because he wanted them to sit in museums, he made them beautiful because he wanted us to embrace them in to our lives. He wanted to improve the way we live. He pursued this dream relentlessly throughout his life.
There is another experience from my childhood that feels familiar today. When I was 5 years old, Mr. Hooper passed away. I never spoke to Mr. Hooper, but Mr. Hooper spent a lot of time speaking to me. I remember sitting there in my 5 year old mind, not understanding why I felt so sad. It was the first time I had dealt with loss, but this was a person I had never met. Today I face the same conundrum. Steve Jobs’ life goal was to connect with people through his products. Mission accomplished, Mr. Jobs. You will be greatly missed.