The budget office bought me a Macintosh computer to cut what they viewed as exorbitant costs for the typography services I was purchasing for the agency's public documents. It was 1984, shortly after the famous Superbowl ad depicting the unnamed heroine smashing "Big Brother", saving humanity from conformity. I was furious. I was passionate about "real typesetting" having apprenticed with a graphic designer who was a master typographer. After a few weeks using the Mac I changed my tune. The flexibility to change type on the fly transformed how I approached design, the time from idea to execution evaporated.
Over the next few years I was able to purchase Macs for my entire department's staff. Strung together through AppleTalk and connected to the organization's PRIME mainframe system we produced astounding results. Our reports and presentations were ahead of schedule, contained the most recent data, and were visually elegant. This from a state juvenile justice agency!
I had heard of Steve Jobs during that time but didn't pay much attention. But by the time he was ousted from Apple and started NeXT I was ready to embrace his next offer, a different computer design, a sleek black box workstation that again changed the game and continuing his vision of integrating beauty and functionality without compromise. While the NeXT computer was a retail failure it provided the foundational thinking for the next wave of Macintosh operating systems when Jobs returned to lead Apple the second time. And my experience went on like that. One beautiful functional tool after another from the inside out including the packaging, marketing, selling process, and Apple store experience.
With his recent death it has me wondering how his main characteristics as an innovation leader match those we at New & Improved belief are essential. What do you think?
- Passionate - he sure was that about what he cared about.
- Integrity - seems so.
- Tenacity - off the charts!
- Curiosity - about all kinds of things.
- Courage - took lots of what turns out to have been smart risks in the long run.
- Humility - after his first fall from the Apple tree, he got some.
I re-listened today to his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech where he tells his life story and encourages the graduates to follow the guidance on the back cover of Steward Brant's Whole Earth Catalog: "stay hungry, stay foolish". I believe this provocation from the 70's remains on target to inspire innovation leaders today. Jobs ends his speech with "don't let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." Another way of expressing what we at New & Improved belief are essential attributes for innovation leaders.
His death has me asking myself , What do I want to be remembered for? What do I wish my legacy to be?
So we ask you - have you considered yet what you want to be remembered for?