Like many people who chose to work in the technology or marketing industry, I don’t think there’s anyone in business who influenced my life quite as much as Steve Jobs.
Many of us either grew up watching or have learnt of the rise of both Microsoft and Apple in the eighties. Their story remains one of the most interesting of recent years due to the impact that both companies had on the way businesses run and technology developed.
I am a marketer with a love of technology. So was Steve Jobs. You could say his genius was not developing great technology products but making us fall in love with the products he made, whatever they were. Apple essentially sells us an emotional promise that we will love what we buy from them; we will be cooler people by owning them and a more creative person by using them.
This philosophy has inspired countless UK entrepreneurs and business leaders. Steve Jobs has indirectly taught business leaders how to deliver presentations, how to sell ideas and that it is possible to turn around a company; even when the world has given up on it.
At the heart of what Steve Jobs taught UK businesses is that delivering great ideas in a simple way is the way to get ahead. This is evident in all of Apple’s products and all of Pixar’s movies – despite the hours that go into creating them; they seem effortless and well crafted.
Many will have watched the 1997 Apple Genius advert (watch it below). At the time, Steve had axed pretty much all of Apple’s product lines. With just a vision of the heights we could achieve if we used Apple products, Apple managed to use its brand to make us want anything it came out with. To this day, It remains one of the best adverts ever made. It will bring a tear to your eye.
It also poetically describes what drove Steve Jobs. As is the case for many entrepreneurs, our lives are peppered with success, failure and struggle. As Steve said in his famous Stanford speech, being sacked from Apple was, in retrospect, the best thing that happened to him, although at the time he was devastated. Starting afresh allows you to lose the monkey on your back, the on-going commitments, and the time-eaters that slow you down. It gives you the freedom to think clearly. For me, that clarity enabled me to learn from times in my past where it’s been a struggle to run a business in economic hardships.
I’m sure everyone in the business world has their own story to tell and can relate to Steve’s story. Upon the sale of my previous business, Apple inspired me to recognise the huge potential of mobile apps in the enterprise space.
In a couple of years, it is entirely feasible to imagine organisations running their entire day-to-day functions and processes using smartphones. Some may think this is a crazy idea, but just think how crazy it was to think that one day everyone would have a computer on their desk, or in their homes.
So what will become of Apple? Well, like the Ford Motor Company, the inspiration behind it will slowly fade away, but we will be left with a new way to look at the world, a new way of doing things in business, a sense that the customers’ needs should be intrinsic in everything we develop and do. This will be Steve Jobs’ legacy. And as legacies go, that ain’t a bad one. I salute you Mr. Jobs.
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