Connected to the Bloodstream, Steve Jobs Lives

Because people who are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do – Apple

 As colleagues and family members and all those who he inspired begin to reflect on his life and impact, it’s impossible not to do so without feeling an almost shared sadness, as if the world is collectively mourning the loss of a close relative–even if most of us were never fortunate enough to meet him. We all knew this day was coming, but we can’t believe it came so soon.

When someone as important as he is in everyone’s lives passes away, it seems that we just simply cannot utter anything.  Whatever we  think, say or do goes into shreds of nothingness.  This is perhaps one of the reasons why it took me quite some time to really write a post.  It’s because I couldn’t.  Every single time I would read an article about him, I’d be crying.  My tears will just flow.  I cannot write the passing of Steve Jobs, because it doesn’t fit him.  He lives forever.  He transcends everything, yes, even death.  Just as my history teacher once told me then, one doesn’t die simply because of the physical body.  One only dies when one forgets.  As Tim Cook and the rest of the Apple crew residing in each one of us remember Steve, let’s always celebrate his life forever in our works.  He demands the best from each one of us.

There are innumerable articles written about Steve Jobs.  Below are some of the personally best ones I’d like to highlight as well as the paragraphs that struck a chord on me most:

1.) Steve Jobs (1955-2011) by Steven Levy

The full legacy of Steve Jobs will not be sorted out for a very long time. When employees first talked about Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” it was a pejorative — they were referring to the way that he got you to sign on to a false truth by the force of his conviction and charisma. But at a certain point the view of the world from Steve Jobs’ brain ceased to become distorted. It became an instrument of self-fulfilling prophecy. As product after product emerged from Apple, each one breaking ground and changing our behavior, Steve Job’s reality field actually came into being. And we all live in it.

 It was part of a lifelong pattern of setting and fulfilling astronomical standards. 

In an interview with a Smithsonian oral history project in 1995, Jobs talked about how he learned to read before he got to school — that and chasing butterflies was his passion. School was a shock to him — “I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it,” he said. By his own account he became a troublemaker. Only the ministrations of a wise fourth grade teacher — who lured him back to learning with bribes and then hooked him with fascinating projects — rekindled his love of learning.

Meanwhile, his dad, Paul — a machinist who had never completed high school — had set aside a section of his workbench for Steve, and taught him how to build things, disassemble them, and put them together. From neighbors who worked in the electronics firm in the Valley, he learned about that field — and also understood that things like television sets were not magical things that just showed up in one’s house, but designed objects that human beings had painstakingly created. “It gave a tremendous sense of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one’s environment,” he told the Smithsonian interviewer.

“We have an environment where excellence is really expected,” he said. “What’s really great is to be open when [the work] is not great. My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That’s my job — to make sure everything is great.” Even though Jobs made life hell at times for the brilliant young engineers of the Mac team, they generally regard the experience as the highlight of their professional careers, a magic moment. And indeed, the Macintosh experience provided a template for the culture of many startups, down to the lavish perks provided to the workers.

2.) The Steve I Knew by Walt Mossberg

After his liver transplant, while he was recuperating at home in Palo Alto, Steve invited me to catch up. It turned into a three-hour visit, punctuated by a walk to a nearby park that he insisted we take, despite my nervousness about his frail condition.

He explained that he walked each day, and that each day he set a farther goal for himself, and that, today, the neighborhood park was his goal. As we were walking and talking, he suddenly stopped, not looking well. I begged him to return to the house, noting that I didn’t know CPR and could visualize the headline: “Helpless reporter lets Steve Jobs die on the sidewalk.”

But he laughed, and refused, and, after a pause, kept heading for the park. We sat on a bench there, talking about life, our families, and our respective illnesses. (I had had a heart attack some years earlier.) He lectured me about staying healthy. And then we walked back.

3.)  Why Steve Matters To You by Bill Taylor

One of my favorite HR gurus, John Sullivan of San Francisco State University, says it best: “Stars don’t work for idiots.” Steve Jobs was a famously tough and exacting boss. But my sense is that people responded to his perfectionist impulses because he was as tough on himself as he was on everyone around him.

4.) How Steve Jobs Changed the World (A Compilation of Stories)

1.) When you think about the Wall Street demonstrations, which are growing, they are largely protests against economic elitists—against the bankers and corporate executives who people feel have too much control over their lives. And yet the ultimate elitist died yesterday, and many of the same people love him. The reason is that they felt that his elitism was meant to make better products for them; that his perfectionism, his high standards, were not to make money—though he did and he charged higher prices than his competitors—but to help them. And so though he was an elitist and a corporate giant, he stayed cool. People treat his death like the President had died. –          Ken Auletta

2.) “These products have significant emotional value, they have sentimental value, they’re connected, if you will, to the bloodstream of the person who’s likely to be the purchaser,” Bernacchi said. “There’s a certain nostalgic value attached to that.

3.) It can’t hurt that many of Apple’s 357 stores already have turned into shrines, attracting people who want to mourn together. It’s not hard to imagine some of them wandering into the stores and buying an iPad or Mac.

4.) “He was the soul of an idea for many people who want to do things better, differently.”

5.) [I]t was Steve Jobs who, almost single-handedly, turned personal technology into personal technology. Which is a truly astonishing legacy to leave. – Felix Salmon

5.) The First Time I Met Steve Jobs  ( A Compilation of Stories)

Fred Cook, CEO, Golin Harris:
The first time I met Steve, we were discussing how we might help Pixar build its reputation as a movie studio in the shadow of Disney. Not really an issue anymore.
When the meeting ended, Steve asked me and my colleague if we would like to see the new Pixar headquarters that were currently under construction. Of course, we said yes. We followed his black Mercedes to the site in the East Bay, and he took us on a tour which lasted about an hour. Not surprisingly, he had designed much of the campus–from the theater to the cafeteria. And he was excited to show us every detail. He wasn’t the creative force behind Pixar’s characters but he certainly created their home.

Mike Evangelist, former director of product marketing for applications at Apple:

It was one of my proudest moments at Apple: to be part of a company that lets its heart guide its actions. And the company is built that way because of Steve. 

I worked at Apple from 2000 to 2002. I had occasional interaction with Steve as part of my job. But this one event sticks out.

It was early on November 30th, 2001, and I was sitting at my desk in 1 Infinite Loop reading the news. I was stunned when I saw a headline saying the George Harrison had died. As with many others of my generation, his music had been an important part of my life for many years. It really hit me hard. I sat there in a dark contemplative mood for quite awhile, feeling quite alone in my grief. But then I realized I wasn’t alone; many of my colleagues at Apple were Harrison fans, and I was sure they’d also feel the need express some of their feelings at this moment. This gave me an idea…one that took considerable courage on my part: I would suggest to Steve that Apple put some sort of tribute on the home page. Up to this point, all my dealings with Steve had been strictly business, and I was afraid he’d think I was some kind of sentimental looney. But my feelings pushed me forward…I sent Steve this note:

Then I waited nervously.

Several hours passed with no response, so I concluded that he wasn’t interested and sort of put it out of my mind. But that wasn’t the end of it. Later that evening, I’m back at my desk and get a call from Tom McDonald (the Final Cut Pro product manager) who tells me he had just come from a meeting with the web design group and they were all working overtime tonight because of me. “What? What do you mean?” I asked. Turns out that Steve did not think it was a stupid idea, as I feared, but instead had put the web team to work on coming up with something suitable.

So, late that night, after a couple rounds back and forth with Steve to choose the best photos, the Apple home page became this:

6.) What can Steve Jobs Still Teach Us

Just watch a 3-year-old with an iPad. You’re seeing a toddler intuit the workings of one of the most advanced pieces of engineering on the planet. 

Indeed, many of Apple’s recent signature products, such as the iPad or the iPhone, were ideas first conceived in the 1990s or even the 1980s–they had to bide their time.

“What would Steve do?” has long been a mantra at Apple (albeit often unspoken). No doubt his example and presence will persist in the organization. The world’s most valuable company has one man’s vision at its core, in roots that go back 30 years. The unanswered question for Apple is: Who’s dreaming its future now?

7.) Why Steve Jobs Matters by Andrew Sullivan

Steve Jobs’ approach to life is terrifying for most of us, because it demands firstly the hardest thing – facing death – and then its necessary, scary corollary – living your own life, and no one else’s. These are difficult things, the bequests of a modernity we were born into, and perhaps beyond most human beings. Hence the enduring nihilist appeal of fundamentalism in all its forms – a fundamentalist approach to religion, in which fallible words are turned into literalist gods; a fundamentalist approach to politics, in which every problem is defined by a dogma and every solution found in a catechism; and a fundamentalist approach to life, which is rooted in obedience and rules and the false comfort of Manicheanism, rather than freedom and love and terrifying, liberating existential doubt.

You cannot teach these things in a book. But you can see them in a life. And every life lived without fear is a life that can sustain and nourish others. And Jobs truly lived without fear – which enabled him to create beyond the measure of most mortals. That he had, in the end, everything to fear – a rare pancreatic cancer slowly moving toward him – only makes his energy and spirit more vibrant.

He was alive when he died.

How many of us live as if we were already dead?

8.) Steve Jobs – The Last Fucking American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing via Onion

Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Computers and the only American in the country who had any clue what the fuck he was doing, died Wednesday at the age of 56. “We haven’t just lost a great innovator, leader, and businessman, we’ve literally lost the only person in this country who actually had his shit together and knew what the hell was going on,” a statement from President Barack Obama read in part, adding that Jobs will be remembered both for the life-changing products he created and for the fact that he was able to sit down, think clearly, and execute his ideas—attributes he shared with no other U.S. citizen. “This is a dark time for our country, because the reality is none of the 300 million or so Americans who remain can actually get anything done or make things happen. Those days are over.” Obama added that if anyone could fill the void left by Jobs it would probably be himself, but said that at this point he honestly doesn’t have the slightest notion what he’s doing anymore.


The Best Quotes from Steve Jobs:

On Crazy

One former Apple employee recalls Mr. Jobs joking soon after he returned that “the lunatics have taken over the asylum and we can do anything we want.” – WSJ 

On Purpose

“Do you really want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life?” – Steve Jobs to Jon Sculley

On Focus 

“Focus does not mean saying yes, it means saying no,” he explained. “I was Dad. And that was hard.”

On What Really Matters:

But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.

On Personal Excellence: 

We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

On Never Settling:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

On Diversity of Solutions and Connecting People:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

(Also, I remembered Derek Sivers video when I read this quote.  He’s also a highly recommended guy.  Please check out all of his works.  I’m a big fan of this guy, and his book “Anything You Want”.) 

On Serendipitous Moments:

“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.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

On Your Own Voice:

– The Faceless Trader is very much a disciple of the Steve Jobs and is not merely a fan, but could heavily recite verses uttered by the highest priest of the Apple shrines more than the Bible or any book out there.  Perhaps, that’s what he really represents to me. So long Steve, Heaven is surely getting some major upgrades now that you’re there 🙂

If Christians don’t marry other non-Christians due to differences of beliefs, call it crazy but this Jobsian is also the same.

I didn’t live during Jesus’ time, but surely I’m fortunate to have lived during Jobs’.


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4 Responses to Connected to the Bloodstream, Steve Jobs Lives

  1. Ben says:

    Hi FT, I just want to share this anecdote by Noah Wyle, the actor who portrayed Steve in “Pirates of Silicon Valley.”

    Anyway, when the event was over, he invited me to have dinner with him at a soba-noodle shop in downtown Manhattan. My wife was invited, too, along with his executive-design team. And I kick myself over what happened next. They all—I don’t want to say they live in fear of him—are certainly are subservient to his will and whim. But I had no dog in the race I felt much freer to crack jokes and engage him in conversation, which surprised them a bit. At a certain point in the meal, out of nowhere, he turned to his designers and said, “You know what I want to make?” And they all snapped their heads around and replied, What, Steve? What, Steve?”

    You know those picture frames that has my kid in his baseball cap and uniform?”

    “Yeah, Steve! Yeah, Steve! We know picture frames!”

    Well, I want to make a picture frame where the picture’s not a picture, but a little movie of the kid swinging the bat and hitting the ball. Can we do that?”

    “We can do that, Steve!” said the designers in unison.

    “I’ll show you what I mean.”

    And he took his napkin and started sketching out the schematics and he passed the napkin around the table. They all approved the design – nobody touched it, there were no changes or suggestions. The check soon came and we started to get up the leave—and the napkin just sat there on the table. I thought to myself, “I got to take that napkin” and my hand was on it, but Steve called from the door and asked, “Noah, you want to share a cab with me?” So I put the napkin down. I could have had an Edison original.


  2. JL says:

    “If Christians don’t marry other non-Christians due to differences of beliefs, call it crazy but this Jobsian is also the same.”

    hmmm … i understand steve jobs is buddhist.


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