I am not a techie; whatever the opposite of a techie is, is what I am. So the fact that Steve Jobs’ death has touched me, unworthy me, is a testament to his genius. He took the mystery of technology, and made it magical, beautiful and accessible, even to me.
At this moment, no less than four Apple products are within arms reach. I lost my iphone on Monday and was absolutely distraught for the 12 hours it took to replace it. My whole life, my connection to the world, all the answers I need and want are, literally, in the palm of my hand, when I have my iphone. Without it, I am rudderless. It is hard to believe we all functioned as well as did before it. Steve Jobs, and his genius, envisioned it.
My computer, once a frightening and slightly boring corner of my desk, is now nearly always on. It is light, friendly, whimsical and cool. My ipad and ipod are toys I am still playing with. Steve Jobs envisioned them, too.
Steve Jobs opened all of our eyes to the fact that it does matter how things we make look and feel, even everyday things. He and Apple inspired my client, P&G, to explore the power of design in their products, so we were asked to incorporate design into all we did for our P&G brands. I have always believed that the quality of our food, our meals, our wine, makes a difference in the quality of our days on earth; one of the reasons we are in San Francisco is that the foods we encounter here everyday are so special and fresh and respected. What we touch and feel everyday, be it our telephone, our computer, or our shampoo bottle honestly can make a difference in how we live. It all matters.
Steve Jobs knew that. We are learning, slowly.
News commentators speak of him as a perfectionist. I like that. He gives me the courage to be more of one. I find myself compromising on things: yes, that will do, that is good enough, I sometimes say. I don’t want to impose on people too much. I don’t want to be a jerk. But he seemed to be very much not a jerk. He seemed kind and positive. I want to be more like that. A kind, positive perfectionist. I will work on that.
Watching the news coverage of his life, I was reminded that he was once forced out of Apple. There was a power struggle. He lost. He must have been devastated, but he moved on. He proceeded to buy Pixar, a software company, where he pushed the capabilities of computer animation until he essentially reinvented animation, too. Clearly, he was the variable that inspired both companies to such excellence.
One wonders what he might have done with America, should he have decided to run for President.
It makes me sad to think that he is no longer with us to envision what we need or will find delight in next, to push companies to create or redesign products that are beautiful and elegant and functional. But his death has shined a spotlight on his short life, and reminded us of just what an impact one person can have. He reminds me to insist on perfection for myself, and to not be afraid to reinvent myself, now that I am out of advertising.
Steve Jobs didn’t just make amazing products. He made us all better. His light, his genius, are gone. But, perhaps, just perhaps, his spirit can live on.