Apple Leadership

Jobs – A personal loss

As I sit here and absorb the passing of Steve Jobs, a few things strike me.

Many are aware that he co-founded, left, and then returned to lead Apple’s turnaround – transforming it into one of the most valuable businesses in the U.S.

Many are aware of his attention to detail and quality.

For example, Robert Scoble a few weeks ago wrote about Jobs’ attention to things that seemingly didn’t matter, noting that Jobs showed off the metal on the back of iPad2 during the keynote, remarking that “other CEOs didnâ??t care about the back of their products. They cared, instead, about shaving cost from them instead.”

Many are aware that his and Apple’s focus on end to end design as a strategic edge that still escapes many products. Meanwhile others fail to bridge the distance from brochure to website to business card.

Many are aware of his and Apple’s rare ability (particularly for a tech company) to get marketing *so well*, so much so that you know it was discussed during product design.

But that isn’t what caught my attention.

Business is Personal

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What struck me early on was that his passing touched so many on a personal level, myself included.

Yes, I know a lot of folks in the tech community but none of them knew Steve personally. Still, I feel compelled to call him ‘Steve’ even though we never met.

Many of the folks that I talked with in the first couple of hours were not in the tech industry. Yet they too were touched. Some were surprised at how much his death affected them. Hildy’s comment (above) was but one of many examples.

Remember for a moment that we’re not talking about a guy who came over to help these people move into a new apartment, but the just-barely-former Fortune 50 CEO of a company whose market cap is the size of Exxon/Mobil’s.

Think about it: If the CEO of another Fortune 50 company passed on, would Facebook, Twitter and blogs be flooded with personal tributes? Would “average Joe” be able to reel off that CEO’s three most successful products?


That’s not a slam at them. It’s simply an illustration of one more thing that Steve did so well.

A Final Note

The 24 hours following Apple’s Tuesday keynote turned into “Bag on (Apple CEO) Tim Cook” day.

Despite announcing a phone that’s twice as fast as the previous model, a new voice command system and a new operating system, pundits all over the net were talking about how Cook’s first Apple keynote was such a disappointing performance and how he “just wasn’t Steve”.

None of them could have known that Cook and his VPs took the stage to launch iOS5 and iPhone 4S despite knowing Jobs’ condition.

I can’t imagine how that could have felt, much less how it feels now.

RIP, Steve. You showed us how personal business should be.

5 replies on “Jobs – A personal loss”

The man improved a lot of lives. There was always a “neat-o” factor with Apple’s stuff. It became aspirational. Who was the last guy (or woman) to accomplish *that?* Maybe Henry Ford…

Very well said. Business is personal as are the best leaders. Steve Jobs was the embodiment of that leader who is keenly aware of how their lives and decisions impact those around them. It’s a lesson we can all learn from.

Thank you for sharing this with me.

Travis Robertson

Yes, I thought of you with the news this week. So much of your life has been spent having a front seat in the evolution of technology over the last 30 years. Even I, on the periphery, was saddened by the passing of Jobs and the loss of his genius that will be felt by the world.

I barely knew anything of the man but I had to watch his graduation speech because my interest was really awaken by the overwhelming pouring of emotions after he moved on. From that short keynote address he delivered I learned that he was very human and the messages of mourning were, and are real, and that he will be missed.

Very well said for your. I think Clients are personal as are the best leaders. Health-related reasons was the embodiment of this leader that is keenly conscious of how their lives and decisions impact those around them. Itâ??s a lesson we can all learn from.

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