Learning from Steve Jobs

It's been a few days now since Steve Jobs passed away and his legacy continues to occupy my thoughts throughout my week.

I recently watched the video of his memorial service from Apple's Cupertino campus and wanted to share a few items with you, in the hopes that you'll be encouraged by this.

The service began with a moving introduction from Apple CEO, Tim Cook. While all of his remarks were worth hearing, I highlight the most poignant and profound below:
I personally admire Steve not most for what he did, or what he said, but for what he stood for. The largest lesson I learned from Steve was that the joy in life is in the journey, and I saw him live this every day.

Steve never followed the herd. He thought deeply about almost everything and was the most unconventional thinker I have ever known. He always did what he thought was right, not what was easy. He never accepted the merely good. He would only accept great—insanely great.

He valued beauty in everything, and insisted that everything that Apple do be beautiful. He believed the future does not belong to those who are content with today, and pushed himself incredibly hard and those around him to achieve more. This is the way he lived, and these are the things he leaves us. What he did, what he said, and what he stood for.

But there is one more thing he leaves us. He leaves us with each other because without him, Apple would have died in the late 90s and the vast majority of us would have never met. Other than his family, Apple would be his finest creation. He thought about Apple until his last day, and among his last advice he had for me and for all of you was to never ask what he would do. "Just do what's right," he said.
The service included music by Norah Jones and Coldplay. The standout performance was Jones' "The Nearness of You" (at 23:40). Her voice and piano sounded like a studio recording, but were live and all too thoughtful given the occasion. Truly moving stuff there.

I also appreciated the measured, but warm, memories from Jony Ive who spent immeasurable hours with Steve as they developed products over the past decade. Watch at 48:30.
He used to joke that the the lunatics are taking over the asylum...as we shared a giddy excitement spending months and months working on a part of a product that nobody would ever see. We did it because we thought it was right and because we cared. He believed that there was a gravity, almost a sense of civic responsibility, to care way beyond any sort of functional imperative.

Now while the work hopefully appeared inevitable, appeared simple and easy, it really cost. It cost us all, didn't it. But, you know what? It cost him the most. He cared the most. He worried the most deeply, he constantly questioned 'is this good enough? is this right?' And despite all his successes, all his achievement, he never presumed, he never assumed that we would get there in the end. When the ideas didn't come and when the prototypes failed, it was with great intent with faith, he decided to believe we would eventually make something great.

But, the joy of getting there. I loved his enthusiasm. His simple delight, often I think mixed with some relief, that yah we got there, we got there in the end and it was good. You can see his smile, can't you? The celebration of making something great for everybody. Enjoying the defeat of cynicism, the rejection of reason, the rejection of being told a hundred times, you can't do that. So, his I think was a victory for beauty, for purity, and as he would say, 'for giving a damn.'

He was my closest and my most loyal friend. We worked together for nearly 15 years...This morning, I simply want to end by saying Thank You, Steve. Thank you for your remarkable vision which has united and inspired this extraordinary group of people.
Jony's remarks reminded me of something else I read today. As many of you know, today marks the release date for his biography, authored by Walter Isaacson. According to Isaacson (as shared on CBS News), much of Steve's relentless attention to detail and inherent quality can be traced back to his upbringing. According to Isaacson,
Paul Jobs was a salt-of-the-earth guy who was a great mechanic. And he taught his son Steve how to make great things. And he--once they were building a fence. And he said, "You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence. Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show that you're dedicated to making something perfect."
If you have a moment to watch the entire service, you should. If you can't find the time, at least click forward the video to 11:15-12:24 and listen in. I'll bet that will stick with you for some time. If it doesn't, then you're likely not one of the crazy ones.

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