If you want to be successful, there’s no better way than learning from others who were successful.
And when it comes to successful people in recent years, Steve Jobs ranks pretty far up there.
I mean, how many others in his generation took a friendship with a computer nerd and an idea and proceeded to turn them into one of the biggest corporations in the world?
Now of course, many things contributed to his success. But today I want to focus on just one. Because I believe this one thing helped him more than anything else.
He had a vision for what his company should be.
In fact, if you look all the way back to the beginning of Apple, Steve already knew what his business would be about. It came out when he explained why he chose Apple for a name.
His response? He found Apple to be “fun, spirited, and not intimidating.” Not necessarily the first traits that come to mind when you think about an apple. But Steve just came back from an apple orchard where he went on one of his “Fruitarian diets.” So that’s what an apple represented to him.
Now fast forward a couple decades.
Just before the turn of the century, Apple’s locked into a downward spiral. The company pushed Steve out in the mid 70s because he disagreed with the then CEO over product development issues. But now the new CEO’s ideas flopped, and Apple wants Jobs back. Ultimately, he did come back. And instantly started Apple’s revival.
Staying True to Your Vision
Shortly after Steve Jobs’ return, Apple aired an ad that has since become famous. The ad proclaimed a tribute to the “crazy ones”, and went on to show Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jim Henson, among others. The ad paid a powerful tribute as it laid out these well known unique personalities. And finished with these words:
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
But, you might ask, how does that go back to the first theme? Steve Jobs chose Apple because he found it “fun, spirited, and not intimidating.” He didn’t say anything about changing the world.
True, he never mentioned changing the world at that juncture. Maybe that was even just an added bonus, but if you look at a few of the Apple ads that aired in the next decade or so, you’ll notice a theme emerge.
First, there’s the “affordable mac” series. These came in the old days of Mac before PCs could be bought much cheaper, as they can now. The affordable computer represented a paradigm shift in the technology that pushed it more toward consumers and less into businesses and schools. And Steve Jobs carefully positioned it that way. He didn’t sell a cheaper product. He sold a revolution in the way computers were priced.
Fast forward a few more years to one of the longest running Mac campaigns: Mac vs. PC. You can find many of these ads on YouTube even today. These ads were perhaps the greatest stroke of genius Jobs advertising team produced.
The theme of the ads remained the same. A man in a business suit and glasses stood next to a more casually dressed man. The first man, the personification of the “PC”, was carefully crafted by Apple. From his posture to his hairstyle and clothes, he just screamed stereotypical IT guy. The other guy, the personification of the “MAC”, dressed in a more relaxed, fun vibe, which also carried into his posture and manner of speaking.
Throughout the course of the commercials, the personalities played out. The identity of the “PC” as the nerdy, somewhat elitist IT personality solidified. At the same time, the identity of the Mac as the fun, spirited, and not intimidating artist reached new heights. Along the way, Jobs and his advertising team hit all the pain points for PC users: Upgrades, viruses, spyware, random crashes. If people hated something about computers, he would run an ad on it.
Changing the computer world
Ultimately Steve Jobs stayed true to his vision. And more importantly, he communicated his vision. Computers didn’t have to be boring. They didn’t have to look clunky. Tech didn’t have to be intimidating. Computers could be fun! They could be creative! Tech gadgets could actually look cool!
As Steve’s message reached the world, it inspired a paradigm shift in the computer industry. Today, computers are designed just as much for visual appeal as for function. People expect innovative features that are appealing. They expect technology that’s fun and easy to use, not intimidating and difficult to learn. They expect software that makes it easy for them to create.
Without Steve Jobs, technology could still be complicated, intimidating, and clunky. He’s been quoted as saying, that users ” don’t know what they want until you tell them,” and in so many cases he proved the point. He proved that with an unflinching vision and determination, one man can change the world.
So, to take a page from Apple’s advertising,
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Let’s get out there and prove we can change our world.