Monday, October 10, 2011

About Steve Jobs...

Kruz, this post is for you. It's based on our quick conversation on your balcony the other night.

I've been pretty quiet when it comes to my feelings about the passing of Steve Jobs. Mainly because I've been introspective about it, letting the lessons I've learned from living my life and pursuing my career in a Jobsian sort of way stew for a minute while thinking about how he lived, how he innovated, and about how he made a "ding in the universe..."

So lets bring that to an end.... that silence.

The main reason I've been drawn to Steve Jobs for as long as I am starts in elementary school, when being introduced to an Apple II computer fascinated me. When the ease of use of a Macintosh and Aldus Pagemaker at the time was so fascinating to me - even in High School when it seemed that nothing else captivated me or my attention. I cut classes, skipped lunch and more to use it. In fact, I remember a library aide being worried about my use of the Mac in high school because, well, "that can be an addiction, you know..."

It was rekindled when I met Eric Chase and specifically Nick Daley who reminded me of what was imprinted in my DNA... and in that rekindled fire, I realized why I was the way I was. Why I'm the way I am:

Crazy. Misunderstood. Passionate. In love with the liberal arts and design more than the science. In love with things that just effing worked and were magical as opposed to those things which worked but were just clunky and considered the so-called 'best...' It made me realize why I was at times considered above average yet at the same time somehow perceived as less than adequate.

I also realized that I wasn't the only one thoroughly hellbent on changing the world.

I'm the first to admit that I'm the beneficiary of some pretty amazing skills and talents. What comes easy for me, doesn't come so easy for others. Conversely, what comes easy for others, takes some work when it comes to me.  All in all, I've found what I love - in a field which plays to my strengths and talents and passion. When Nick reminded me of the "Crazy Ones" commercial which launched the Macintosh, and specifically, the words used to describe the people who were - and are the "crazy" ones, well, it unleashed something inside me. It changed the way I wanted to lead people. It changed the way I wanted to be led. It changed the idea of what we were in radio to do.  It changed my idea of what I was in radio to do.

It reminded me that I was at a station which existed to change the world... to be so much more than just some passing noise on a dial in a world full of noise which was increasingly present on air and online.

And it let me know that I wasn't alone. I was a person with certain talents and skills that not that many other people were blessed with, and with that came a degree of responsibility... to myself, my coworkers and to my worldview.

And so, I adjusted my internal compass and dedicated myself to the embrace of the crazy. I accepted myself and my failings and instead focused on my strengths and the strengths of others around me. I let it alter - fundamentally - the way I would lead - and way I wanted to be led by people. And it unleashed in me - and in my career - some of the most creative and personally amazing - times of my career up until this point.

"Where some may see them as the crazy ones... we see genius..."

See, I think that in all things, we've each, if we examine ourselves on some intimate level, felt inadequate. We've felt rejected. We've been laughed at for dreams. We've had our ideas scoffed at or dismissed by those who don't see the world through our prism of creativity - not because they can't - but because they're not fundamentally "wired" to do so.

In Steve, we found someone like us. Who believed less in the science and more in the art - and in this case, the Liberal Arts. He knew he needed the art and science to facilitate things - so he surrounded himself with the best, who could free him up to focus the vision while they created - scientifically at times, but mostly artistically - the very things which would bring amazing change to a world starving for it.

Scientists created the glass of ice water for those in hell. Jobs delivered it. Simply in an easy to understand and use glass. And, damn, did it quench the world's thirst.

He was an unlikely champion.  Given up at birth. Adopted. A college dropout. Fired by the very company he founded... and ultimately returned to save. But through it all, his passion - his drive - his fire - persevered. He changed the world through the simplicity of design, through the complexity of his person, and through the raw fire of his drive and passion.

In a time when leaders of many a major enterprise talk a good game, filled with the rhetoric found in the the latest and greatest book on leadership, Steve Jobs is one of the very few - in fact, one of a handful - who actually f****ing did it. He embraced misfits. He sought out failures. He brought in the ones the world cast out, who were called unmanageable, who were deemed to risky to gamble on. He brought in the risky, and brought out the best. He created companies which destroyed the status quo which - as is in the case of Pixar and NeXt, were purchased to save Disney... and the company he founded.

You want to innovate? Embrace the crazy. You want to change the world? Stop preaching about ideation and innovation and inclusion and such, and embrace the chaotic, yet infinitely powerful spark found in the human equation. At the risk of sounding like some current leader-types, to lead like Steve, AFDI. Stop talking about it, and ACTUALLY F****ING institute a culture which makes it possible to DO IT. Do it and watch the magic unleash in a way which will make the world take notice, will make poets put pen to paper... and will make hearts sing.

Steve did. And the world is forever -- FOREVER -- better for it.

When I got my job at FLZ, someone said once, "I don't understand how people like Toby Knapp keep getting these awesome jobs at stations like this..."

Study the life and career of Steve Jobs and you'll figure it out.

Stay hungry, stay foolish... and rest well, Steve. Well done.


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