Steve Jobs led apple to revolutionize the music industry, true. This is how millions first knew his influence. I do love me some music, but when I heard he had passed the first thing I thought of was my dad.
Let me take you back to the 90s real quick. My dad, a HUGE mac nerd, had been using a Commodore Amiga for all of his gaming and computering needs. But he’d read a lot about macs and this Macintosh Quadra sounded like some hot stuff. They were fast and graphically advanced. They also had a strong educational software component, which was important for my developmentally disabled sister.
My dad brought it home and a serious love affair began in our house. We’d have to book computer time. We’d do housework in exchange for time on the computer. I stopped writing papers for schools on our typewriter. I could play games all I wanted. I developed a strong love for pixelized art*. Our mac was a big deal.
And “Think Different” was a mantra I wholeheartedly embraced. It was kind of hilarious because I was only 12. But I loved it. I loved being the outlier. It was my first exposure to the concept that working outside the norm could be a deliberately chosen path. Of course, I WAS only 12, so it was more, “I can be weird! This is working for me! I’m THINKING DIFFERENT!” …ugh, god, I was so weird you guys.
As I sit here, I’m realizing this is probably part of the reason I like small businesses and non-profits as much as I do. We’re the underdogs. We want to “Think Different”, to bring change, to do things our way. I wouldn’t really describe myself as entrepreneurial but that’s what “Think Different” was. Steve Jobs took a different path, but he was true and authentic to it. People can really sense when you care THAT MUCH about a concept. Passionate people become your advocates. This is how, despite only having a little over 2% of the home computer market in 2003, Apple started to snowball into the brand it is today.
This is why I get excited when businesses engage using social media. (And I mean really engage, not this forced “Oh I’m sorry, did you call customer service?” @replies and facebook wall posts.) To me, a business says, ‘I get it’ when they go to where the conversation is happening. It’s a risky move, believe me! But that honesty and willingness to have the conversation… that’s what will connect with people. And I don’t think it’s just people like me, who are net savvy. I think everyone realizes it’s their duty to really vet where their dollars are going. Like little investments. Because a majority of us don’t have the luxury of wasting it.
Steve Jobs got it. His people got it. Apple got it. And no matter where your computer alliances lie, you have to respect that level of commitment and subsequent success. So here’s to you, Steve. You inspired me and (I hope) a generation of passionate people to “Think Different”. We could use more truly innovative minds.
*Seriously, pixel art is amazing. It lives in this fantastic sweet spot in my heart where nerdy meets color and beauty meets pastiche and kitsch.