Do we really know what admiring Steve Jobs is really all about?

A great man died the other day. And so I’ve been seing a lot of tributes to Steve Jobs, for the man and for his achievements — he built one of the most valuable business enterprises on the planet, created great products, and established the services behind them that re-defined entire industries and entire ways of life. I’m not sure though if the many folk who are suddenly waxing poetry about the man who built Apple Computer (today, just Apple) really know what they are talking about. Jobs achieved what he achieved not by being a pushover, not by deferring his vision to a “boss”, and certainly not by bending to some nebulous “will”. Jobs built the Apple II, the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad by leading and blazing new trails — to the point of pissing people off.

Indeed, for all of the love the man gets from his millions of happy customers, I doubt if working for him would have been a pleasant experience. Jobs refused to be limited by what otherwise orthodox analysis and logic would consider to be practical. If he had been anything less than the extreme adherent to product design artistry that he was and, instead, took more of the input of his engineers on board, it is unlikely that Apple products would be the exceptional standouts that they are today. Not too many people are happy being pushed out of their comfort zones that way. For that matter, many of us are imprisoned by our own education and credentials — limited by the engineering and legal constraints ingrained in us during the expensive time we spent in the universities we attended, limited by the social circles we believe we belong to, and limited by our sentimentality over the traditions and beliefs we cherish.

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Steve Jobs, a hippy at heart, did not possess any of the social ornaments — the university degrees and professional titles — our society is beholden to. Indeed, to the average executive recruiter, he would have been considered absolutely unqualified for many of the roles he took over the course of his brilliant career.

As such, many people consider Jobs to be an “inspiring” man. That implies that many see Jobs as a man to emulate and look up to. Are we who lament his passing prepared to live up to this aspiration and follow the footsteps of men who don’t defer to conventions and refuse to conform?

I doubt it.

Consider how we, a people who describe ourselves as “Christian” (supposedly the only one predominantly so in Asia), routinely fail to recall how the man who is the central personality of this religion was, himself, a non-conformist who routinely challenged tradition and thumbed his nose at the be-credentialled “holy” men of his time. When you think about the many Filipino schmoes who grandstand about how Jesus Christ is the “centre” of their lives, you just gotta cringe the next time another Filipino presumes to know what admiring Steve Jobs is all about.

22 Replies to “Do we really know what admiring Steve Jobs is really all about?”

  1. Education can help but how it’s applied is what’s important. Unfortunately, in a world or perhaps in a country where finishing your education is important yet hampered by ineffective business planning, limited economy and pushing BPOs more, we’ll never have a Steve Jobs here in the Philippines.

    We’ll have Steve Jobless every where.

  2. Education, University Degrees, Advanced University Degrees are also important. What you do with them , determines your success or failure in life. There are college drop-out who are very succesful, like Bill Gates, the founder of the Microsoft Corporation.
    Filipinos usually think that a university degree, will open the door of riches, success and opportunities. In the end, most go abroad as OFW slaves/ Drug Mules. Underpaid, underemployed and abused by their employers. What you do with your life, is what matters. What you do with your education, is what matters…I mourn for the passing of Steve Job…he is an innovator, and one of the great men of our century…

    1. Hi, Hyden,

      In a statistical sense, what is the rate of success of the average college dropout? I mean, those with not near 1/4 of Gates’ talent.

      I agree that it’s not just the degree, it’s what you do with it.

      1. I simply don’t know…Thomas Edison, did not much of an education. So, some other successful people. I still believe in education, even advanced degrees. It gives you an edge…

  3. Jobs’ predecessor as CEO was Gil Amelio. I remember at the time when he hired Steve Jobs as a “consultant” as part of Apple acquiring NeXT, he said, “Steve Jobs is a maverick, and you need mavericks in doses.” We see how that worked out for him.

    By the way, Benign0, you made one serious misassumption. In your second paragraph, you implied that Steve Jobs didn’t take much advice from the talent available to him.

    Prime example is the original iMac. That was completely the idea of Jonny Ive, the VP in charge of industrial design. His time at Apple preceded Jobs’ return. I read an interview with a former Apple employee that Jobs told Ive “show me what you got.” Coupled with Amelio’s quote about Jobs, what can we conclude? Amelio put limits on Ive. After Jobs took over, he allowed Ive’s genius to shine unhindered. This contradicts the popular image of Jobs as a tyrant.

    Yeah, all those bloggers and podcasters who compare Steve Jobs to Stalin are brainless morons.

    1. Fair enough. Perhaps then Ive is an exceptional case and therefore Jobs’s acting on that basis is just as exceptional.

      Indeed, the Apple II it seems was also more of a Wozniak baby although its casing and overall packaging clearly has Jobs written all over it..

  4. Steve Jobs was a Buddhist therefore he did not accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. This means he is now burning in hell. So why are you Christians idolizing him so much?

    1. Do you have any proof that he is now burning in hell? Even if he is burning, he is already dead so he won’t feel a thing.

    2. Tsk tsk. If I recall right, Christians are taught that the authority to judge and determine who goes where after death is reserved only for the Almighty himself. That’s the trouble with “pastors”, “bishops”, “priests”, and whatever the hell else these “religious leaders” call themselves. Through their own behaviours they undermine the very things they presume to “preach”. 😀

  5. Benign0 + Ilda,

    I do not make the rules, God does. I am only here to preach the truth. Eternal damnation exists and it is not a pleasant thing. But God loves us so much that he sacrificed his only son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins and so we may enter the kingdom of heaven. But Mr Jobs chose to follow a false God. Never mind the fact that many of his apple products were manufactured in Chinese factories with slave-like labor conditions which drove some laborers to suicide (its true google it!). If he asked our Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, all would have been forgiven. Buddah will not save Steve Jobs from hell.

      1. Thanks to Steve Jobs, personal computers are now accessible to even preachers who roam around the internet proselytizing everyone in sight.

        Thank you Lord for Steve Jobs for providing better means to spread the word! 😉

    1. I have no problem with Jesus.

      In fact, my favorite prayer would be (and you may repeat after me if you wish):

      Please Lord, save us from your ‘followers’ [and ‘pastors’]!”

      Wouldn’t it be nice if these people actually spend their time judging themselves instead of others? ‘Would have been more convincing that way.

    2. Hey Pastor, stop preaching here, we didn’t ask for a religious discussion in this topic. Go to a religious website and not here, you’ll not get anything from us.

  6. Though I’m impressed how Jobs made Apple to what it is today…be it known that Steve Wozniak was the brains behind the first personal Apple computer…Steve Jobs is more like one of the best marketing guru of our time…besides…Dennis Ritchie (the father of C programming) has made more impact to the tech world than Jobs would only dream about…

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