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People of Influence



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Reprinted courtesy of Education Forensics

My technologist friend NDA reminded me that it was a year ago today that Steve Jobs died.  The Apple site has a wonderful mix of images and quotes from Jobs.  The entire video is 1:45 seconds long.  It contains cello music, fade in/out images of Steve Jobs at varying times of his life at Apple, and quotes by him, in his voice.  It is, as my friends LS often says, “elegant in its simplicity.”  The first quote by Wayne Gretzky, is arguably the best – “I skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”  Apple Computer is one of the companies that has been innovative and forward thinking – unafraid of corporate backlash or making some mistakes along the way.  They’ve been able to be ahead of the game to the point that they’ve ‘missed’ by being TOO advanced.

Apple, in the tribute, uses words like ‘cool’ and the hockey quote – all within the first 25 seconds.  This works.  There is a prank call, ordering “4000 lattes to go” – all on a phone / iPod / www connected device.  This is brilliant psychology, as well as proving the pragmatism inherent in the Apple device.  It is different, it’s exciting, and it’s new technology.  It isn’t corporate or boring or dry.  At 1:08, the video shifts, and Jobs says something wonderfully profound.  He notes that the “Apple DNA” is not just the technology, but the liberal arts, the humanities.  This is the the idea of ‘Think Different‘ that is personified in their philosophy as a company.  Thinking about what people want, how they act, how they feel, and what decisions they will make throughout the day, and merging these thoughts with devices made of plastic, metal and glass is truly extraordinary.

It is because of people like Steve Jobs that we are able to look at trends, analyze information, check the historical record, and feel creativity coursing though our system.  Jobs spoke often of creating, of failure, of being a flawed person.  Sharing his journey so candidly was one of his strengths.  Hearing his story, being reminded of his untimely death from pancreatic cancer reminds me that although he is gone, it is legacies like his that allow human motivation and creativity to flourish.  This, in a way, allows for his legacy to live forever, as he helped provide the tools for people to add to the world that are at our fingertips.

There is an unlikely connection here.  This TED talk by Rory Sutherland on perspective reflects the ability of people to now realize that the human recognition of technology is vital when it comes to its marketing and reception.  The second half of Sutherland’s talk deals with human action instead of a cold, disaffected technological response to a ‘need’.  The speaker is talking about how the firms that deal with image, human feeling and human decision making are the ones that are more successful, and they will continue to dominate.  He mentions Ludwig von Mises as his hero, as Mises realized this one hundred years ago.  Mises’ magnum opus was Human Action.  It is a book on economics, yet because he realized that the economy was organic, the economy was us, he was wildly ahead of his time.  There are few people throughout history who fit into this category.  Steve Jobs was one of them.
Never did I think I would ever connect Steve Jobs, von Mises or Rory Sutherland.  I ‘think different’ than most people – never have I been more proud of that fact.  Thank you Mr. Jobs.

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