Thursday, October 6, 2011

Losing Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs wanted to change the world. I believe that he did.

There was a huge round of blog posts when Steve stepped down from the CEO position, a move that few mistook as anything but a sign that his health was very, very bad. I was, to tell the truth, a little angry about all the accolades begin showered on Mr. Jobs. It wasn't that I didn't feel that the praise was very well deserved; I just wondered where all this sentiment was for all his years at Apple, and during his time away. The fire was there all the time, but many felt the need to belittle it or write it off as some kind of fringe behavior.

It was obvious to many of us that Steve and the products he talked so persuasively about were something special, and that he would, in fact, change the way we use computers, the way we listen to music, the things we can do on the phone, and the way we think of animated movies. (Yes--that little company called Pixar was Steve, too.)

Now since this is primarily a blog about customer service, I would be remiss if I did not point out how important customers were in Steve's mind. Don't think so? Take a look at his 1997 Macworld Expo keynote  and pay extra close attention at around  22:30. Steve says that Apple's customers are its most important core asset, reveals that he calls the support line himself, and doesn't like being kept on hold. One of the very first things Steve did at the beginning of the monumental task of turning Apple around was to focus on customers. I remember it, because I was there, as I so often was. I developed immense respect for the brand and its champions, the greatest of whom was Mr. Jobs. 

And let's not forget one of the other big things: Steve changed the way we present, if we present well. I've had the pleasure to see many great speakers, but no one ever came close to Steve doing one of his keynotes. His beautifully simple slide shows (using Apple's Keynote, so please don't call them "PowerPoint") showed me the great value of using white type on a dark background: The words themselves give out the light your eyes are seeking, and so you are drawn to the words, not some fancy background. Brilliant, and all presenters (and corporate template designers) should take note. Combining Steve's low-key, dark clothing and incredible persuasive power, Steve's talks were amazing.

Some years ago, I heard Sting say that the definition of charisma was the ability to stand still and silent and hold people's attention. Steve had it.
I was lucky enough to be associated with Apple through the Apple Solution Experts and Apple Consultants Network. Before OS X arrived, I was a beta tester, and went through OS X "boot camp" in advance of its public release. I often worked the Apple Help Desk at Macworld, along with other ACN members. When Apple started issuing technical certifications, I was one of the first to earn "ACTC" - Apple Certified Technical Coordinator. I was also an Apple User Groups Northeast Regional Liaison, and was talking in 2003, as this writeup from Macworld shows, about what is now called "social IT" - having user groups as a first line of contact to resolve questions and issues before picking up the phone to anyone else.

Were it not for Mr. Jobs, I might not have been part of the great Apple community and would not have been thinking along those lines. I'm no longer a professional "Mac Geek" but I will always be partial to the design and function of Apple's technology, driven from the insight of Steve Jobs.

I have no doubt that Steve Jobs changed the world, because he certainly helped to change mine, and that's all I have to go by. Thank you, Steve.

1 comment:

  1. I am sure he would have received State Honours by the US Govt, with the techno world's who's who vying to pay tribute in person. Such was his life and its impact. Of course, if he and his family wanted it to be a private event, one has to honour that. He received his respects from the entire world, private funeral notwithstanding. That's what is the meaning of 'zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin'