The Tao of Steve

48 Comments

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.

 

48 Comments

Aniruddha Mallik

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.

cloudspotter

you have put into words what I couldn’t – thank you for your insight, your honesty and your imagination… a perfect tribute.

Ashok Malik

Seen it just now. Do not know how I missed it, but this indeed is one of the most emotional pieces about him. Thanks

Babita Patnaik

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 .

Tom Cooley

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.

Tom Cooley

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.

Jon

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.

Rajesh Nidwannaya

There will never be another. He will be greatly missed!

Jadzia Dax

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”.

Spock Vader

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.

Melissa Hourigan

Probably one of my favorite pieces written. So humble, void of ego and raw. Thanks Om for sharing your reaction with us.

Comments are closed.