Steve Jobs: Turning A Basket Case into A Show Case

On 5th of October 2011, co-founder of Apple passed on aged 56. He was hailed by friend and foe as a global icon who impactfully transformed multiple industries with his creative genius. In telecoms he gave us the iPhone, in music the iPod, in personal computing the iPad. An “i-conic” impact! I celebrated Steve Jobs while he lived and therefore it’s not my wish in this article to extol his virtues to fulfil mourning decorum but to share a few reflection points.

Excuses Don’t Change Your World

Steve Jobs was born out of wedlock to a Syrian immigrant father in America, adopted at birth by foster parents, a university drop out, fired from a company he had formed and lived with a rare form of pancreatic cancer for almost 10 years. In spite of such a constrained circumstances Steve Jobs changed the world. What is your excuse? His story echoes that of one Moses a ‘basket case’ who became the deliverer of Israel from Egyptian bondage. In the last 10 years of his life, Jobs virtually transformed Apple from a bottom tier hi-tech company to the most valuable technology company in the world.

Steve Jobs illustrates the ability of human beings to transcend challenges. He was fired from Apple and was in the ‘business wilderness’ for about 10 years. During that period Apple lost market share and money. Dell and Microsoft were leading and raking in the billions. Without going into detail, Apple was for years a David and Microsoft was a Goliath. Steve Jobs was rehired by Apple and transformed the business with game changing products such as the Mac, iPod iPhone and lately iPad. Steve Jobs grew the business from USD5 billion in 2000 to USD350 billion when he handed over to his successor in August 2011. To give you perspective, this is more than the value of Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Nokia all put together. Terrific!

Never Change Your Message

To change your world and your condition you need to be fully persuaded in what you believe in. Steve Jobs was ‘brave enough to think differently’, bold enough to follow through his ideas believing he could change the world. When competitors were going for making cheaper products, Steve Jobs decided to go for expensive products. His conviction was profoundly simple – make a great product, put it before a customer and they will open their wallet. This is brave in a world which puts a premium on cost cutting and cheap to push volumes.

A pastor who does not believe in their message is like a parrot, a teacher who does not believe in their material is making a recital, just as a salesman who does not believe in their product is no different from a clown in a circus. Moses could not lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land until he was convinced that bondage was not the right place for God’s children. Never compromise your message to please people or to go with the wisdom of the crowd.

Garments of Passion and Personality

Your greatest asset is not your education, job title or size of car or office. Steve Jobs brought his passion and personality into Apple products. He turned simple products into “rock stars” He did not create the MP3 player, but gave it personality when he created the iPod. Neither did he create the tablet computer, but through the iPad, he redefined the concept of personal computing using a tablet. Images of an emaciated Jobs launching iPad 2 just shows the passion this man had for the products he created. You cannot talk of “Apple’s Jobs, but about Job’s Apple”. He earned the naming rights through his actions, not because he was a co-founder. Your actions must be clothed with the garments of your passion and scented with the perfume of your personality. Has your organisation, ministry, community or friends come to now know the typical “you-sque” performance. Passion and personality are not techniques or tools; they are about who you are.

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