Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules...
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
The Apple Think Different commercial is one of the most successful ad campaigns of all time. It was released in 1997 by the founder of Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.), who had been fired from his own company in 1985, only to be brought back as Interim CEO to save the multibillion-dollar computer company from bankruptcy in 1996.
After Steve Jobs was dismissed from Apple Computer, the company lost its daring and innovative edge, even though it had grown to ten billion dollars and gained respectability in the corporate world.
At that time, Steve re-asserted the core vision of his company. It is not really about making boxes, but giving people the power to change the world.
Computers were meant for communication, not mere processing or number crunching. He was one of the earliest people to envision computers in the hands of ordinary people. The motto for his iconic Macintosh was “a computer even your mom could love.”
Not only did the Think Different campaign save Apple from bankruptcy, but it put it on solid footing to become the world’s most valuable company.
When Steve passed away on October 5, 2011, people all over the world cried for someone they had never even met as if he was family, the person they most deeply respected, appreciated and admired.
How did Steve Jobs, an orphan raised by a high school-educated, working-class couple in a small industrial town on the West Coast, pull all this off?
When you think about it… Steve was an ordinary man who achieved extraordinary things. His relentless drive and vision came from within... and he knew how to tap into it, and run with it.
It is stunning to think that one man could revolutionize six different industries (computing, publishing, consumer electronics, telecom, 3D animation and retail distribution) with less than two years of college. Certainly, Steve Jobs was brilliant, but so were a lot of other people, many of whom were much better educated and better positioned.
You would think such a man would keep the secret to himself. However, Steve chose to give it away to the entire world in his Think Different campaign, as well as his commencement address to Stanford University in 2005.
Steve Jobs took full advantage of being at the right time and place, Silicon Valley in the mid-1970’s when the world’s first microprocessors were being commercialized. Like Bill Gates, who left Harvard early on to join the revolution, Steve saw the potential for truly personal computers that would empower everyone, everywhere, not simply in every office, but in every home.
Unlike Bill Gates, he had a profound consumer sensibility (which is rare nowadays) as to the products that you and I delight in. He placed ultimate value on excellence and beauty.
Steve did not care about filling his pockets with cash while launching mediocre products. Instead, he cared about transforming the future… while thinking different.
On the personal front, Steve began his youth placing a premium on spirituality, having early on tried psychedelics, which altered his perception of reality.
He went on to read Baba Ram Das’s Remember Be Here Now, which launched a whole generation of spiritual seekers, based on the teachings of his guru, Maharaji (Neem Karoli Baba). After attending Reed College in Oregon, Steve actually went to India to meet Maharaji, only to find out that he had already passed on.
It was only after Steve returned home to Cupertino and met a Zen monk, Kobun Chino Otagawa, that things began to crystalize. He worked in an electronic game company, Atari, met up with his buddy, Woz, and actually attempted to build one of the very first PC’s out of his garage.
Steve convinced Woz that they could actually sell them, not just to hackers, but to people in small and home businesses, as well as schools. While other entrepreneurs were thinking of building units in the tens and hundreds, Steve was already thinking of building them in the thousands and tens of thousands. Within several years, Steve and Woz built Apple up into a billion-dollar enterprise.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Few people appreciate how important the inner dimension was to Steve’s rapid ascent in the business world. Steve had a passion to change the world early on.
He saw the new computer technology as the tool that would create a social and cultural revolution. He proceeded with it as a spiritual discipline. Steve developed a Zen-like design aesthetic, treating every computer as a work of art. Steve called his engineers “artists.”
He had a talent for consistently selecting the best people. On the Macintosh team, he had his engineers work literally 80 or 90 hours a week for several years. Steve acquired a reputation as a stern task master, demanding perfection of them. Although many of the original team members got totally burnt out, most of them reported later in life that they wouldn’t have exchanged that experience for anything.
What is most telling of all is that Steve practiced meditation consistently throughout his life for two or more hours a day. It could be truthfully be said that he was more Japanese than the Japanese, actually outdesigning and outselling SONY. Steve also lived consistently with his principles as a vegan, maintaining a low carbon footprint.
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As Steve Job’s dream got translated into reality, his sphere of influence increased to larger and larger groups of people, from the Apple II to the Macintosh to the iMac to the iPod to the iPhone and iPad. He went from impacting millions, to literally billions, of people.
You will no doubt ask yourself, “How can I possibly be like Steve Jobs? He was one of a kind, a true genius that comes along once a century, if that.” You would be only partially right.
Steve was just like you and me in so many ways. What he had was an extraordinary vision and passion. As he put it, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
You may have been around the block a few times and know all that you can’t do. Steve kept re-inventing himself every decade.
He mentioned that every morning he would look himself in the mirror: “If this is the last day of my life, will I like what I am about to do?” When the answer was “No” too many days in a row, Steve made changes in his life.
You may feel trapped in school or a job. You may be wrestling with financial issues, trying to keep the lights on in your house. You may feel it is totally impractical to be an entrepreneur, to do a startup.
Besides, you may not be a software engineer. Everyone knows you have to be a software engineer to be successful these days. NOT. Steve Jobs, himself, hardly ever wrote a single line of code. What he knew was the business and marketing side. Steve was also highly creative.
Steve Jobs is gone from our view. He needs you and me to continue the revolution.
The problems, challenges and opportunities today are entirely different than what they were in the mid-1970’s. While you can still find plenty of possibilities within computing, whole new industries are opening up, including bioengineering and nanotech.
People like Elon Musk, who was behind PayPal, a revolutionary approach to electronic payments, proceeded to give us Space X, Solar City and Tesla Motors. Elon sees the vital importance of a sustainable civilization, and has developed concrete plans to build colonies on Mars within his own lifetime.
You have a unique perspective on the world. You can identify what you would like to change, and start in. It could be global warming; it could be religiously sanctioned violence; it could be animal rights; it could be the digital divide; it could be social justice; it could even be a global transformation of consciousness.
You can choose to see that crisis as an opportunity. Then you identify those things you love doing, and put them together.
For example, you may be a bridge person. If you are deeply bothered by the deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia, you could reach out to Russians living right here in the U.S. You could call your President and Congress people. You could even join privacy advocates and build awareness of the issues around mass surveillance.
The main thing to realize is that, if Steve Jobs could do it, so can you.
He was very much influenced by Cal Berkeley, my alma mater, which taught, “Question Authority.”
Stop counting on the person next to you to save the Planet. It is up to YOU to get things moving. You won’t, of course, do it all alone, but you can be the demand for massive change, whether by starting a business, writing a book, going on TV or getting politically active.
Like Steve Jobs, remember that it all starts within. You are divine, too. You are here with a unique talent to meet a unique need, and awaken others.
Given that you can now easily reach over a billion people with the social networks, you will be truly amazed at the depth and scope of support you can create.
Find and follow your passion with everyone and everything you meet along the way. Live it. Only then will you find your greatest fulfillment in this incarnation.
Don’t listen to what “they” say (what’s possible or not possible)… find and listen to your own genius.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
~ Alan Kay, Former Fellow, Apple Computer