iTribute: Two lessons I learnt from Steve Jobs

Thursday, 6 October 2011 - 5:11pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
It is the uncanny ability to ‘change the world’, not once but several times, that makes Jobs the tallest figure among all Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
I first read about Steve Jobs, ironically, in the autobiography of the man who fired him from Apple, John Sculley. I was in first year engineering, and though a geek at heart, my mind was set firmly on pursuing management -- hence the autobiography of the man who moved from Pepsi to Apple. For all his faults, I couldn’t help but think that the true hero of the book was Steve Jobs.
‘Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?’ Jobs asked Sculley. That has to be the best job offer anyone has ever made in the corporate world. And it is this uncanny ability to ‘change the world’, not once but several times, that makes Jobs the tallest figure among all Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
I got a unique insight into Steve Jobs’ rise and fall of fortunes while watching the movie, Pirates Of Silicon Valley. It was Jobs and his partner Steve Wozniak who imagined a world where every home would have a computer. The ball mouse perhaps would have been just another invention stuck at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centre until Jobs rescued it from obscurity. The graphic user interface that we take for granted today first made an appearance on the Apple Macintosh.
But Jobs also had a huge ego that led to much infighting at Apple. He also didn’t grasp the importance of machine independent operating systems along with third party software developers -- something that Bill Gates took full advantage of. Though Apple started at the head of the pack, it lost the race to Windows-powered PCs. In 1985, Jobs was fired from Apple.
The way Jobs went about the next 26 years of his life is inspiring for more than the iconic products Apple developed. The iPod, iPhone and iPad were indeed game-changers, but they only confirmed what the world already knew – Jobs was a tech visionary.
I am far more impressed with Jobs’ never-say-die attitude -- defeat, even a big one, isn’t the end of the road. Genius lies within a man, not the products he creates. This is one of the two life lessons I learned from Steve Jobs.
The other is simple: have fun. As the Steve Jobs in Pirates Of Silicon Valley says, “Maybe fun is just fragments of existence with better packaging.”

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