Steve Jobs changed millions of lives. I know; he changed mine too.
From time to time people come along who greatly inform you, either by their immediate presence or the impact of their work.
Jobs did both; from the “insanely great” products he strove (and drove others crazy) to build to the example he set as a maverick (“pirate” might be his preferred youthful self-description).
I used my first Apple product in 1984, and the example set by Apple’s advertising gave me insight into how you can be the company called you. Even my practice name Back West was partially inspired by an Apple ad detailing how a startup of one can look and feel like a company of many.
It’s no secret that he was awful as a manager in his first run at Apple; inconsistent, arrogant, brilliant, mecurial and erratic. That management style whipsawed Apple, driving product overruns and inconsistent financial performance. He eventually was pushed out in a boardroom coup as Apple’s CEO.
I don’t know if he was coached by someone like me but his second turn at the Apple CEO helm had the hallmarks of good coaching help. He made purposeful changes to how he chose to manage when he was brought back to Apple in the mid 1990’s. He was more focused, measured, consistent, and still passionate. He brought in talent below him, and talent throughout the organization – talent that performed and stayed. The frenzy that had formerly ran rampant at Apple was shifted to a laser-like focus regarding the things that matter most in a business – customer experience, operational discipline and amazing product innovation.
We’ll miss him. And as I pass one of his products (every kid’s favorite, an iPhone) to my 9 year-old son so can finish this post, I hope that his enduring legacy at Apple is to continue to “think different.”
God bless you Steve Jobs. And thank you.
Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.