“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Hard to believe it’s been a year already.
“We don’t do focus groups - that is the job of the designer. It’s unfair to ask people who don’t have a sense of the opportunities of tomorrow from the context of today to design.”
Putting a Dent in the Universe
With a bit of extra time this Thanksgiving weekend, I was able to finally finish Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography Steve Jobs. Filled with emotions, I preordered it the night Steve died and had been working through it ever since. No one has had more of an influence and been more an inpiration on my work than Jobs and I was excited to get an inside look at his life and work.
I knew I would love the book and I did. I had a hard time putting it down many nights and stayed up much later than I should have reading four, five, six chapters in one sitting. But then there were other times—and this I didn’t expect—where I had to put the book down, where I couldn’t bring myself to read another page because I suddenly had the urge to go make something of my own.
A constant thread through Steve’s life was his focus on making great products, on “putting a dent in the universe” by making a product that would change the world. This book made that passion and that focus palpable and contagious.
I laughed when he would berate employees when they produced anything short of perfection and I cried when the cancer returned and kept him in bed, slowly eating away his body. But more than anything, I closed the book inspired, knowing I have work of my own to do and that I need to start now because I don’t know what the future will bring. But if I work hard enough, I can create my own future, and though it will pale in comparison to what Steve gave us, I can put my own little dent in the universe.
Susan Kare, the fine artist turned iconographer who drew the first icons for the Macintosh in 1984 has recently published a book of her work spanning nearly three decades of work. Included in the book are some of her original sketches for the Macintosh icons:
Inspired by the collaborative intelligence of her fellow software designers, Kare stayed on at Apple to craft the navigational elements for Mac’s GUI. Because an application for designing icons on screen hadn’t been coded yet, she went to the University Art supply store in Palo Alto and picked up a $2.50 sketchbook so she could begin playing around with forms and ideas. In the pages of this sketchbook, which hardly anyone but Kare has seen before now*, she created the casual prototypes of a new, radically user-friendly face of computing — each square of graph paper representing a pixel on the screen.
The Whole Earth Catalog was a counterculture catalog published by Stuart Brand from 1968 to 1972.
On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. —Steve Jobs
I picked up a copy of the latest Bloomberg Businessweek this afternoon to see the touching and powerful Steve Jobs memorial issue. The entire magazine is dedicated to Jobs’s life and is a powerful tribute to his work. The issue is a wonderful example of top notch editorial design as I was pulled into the magazine and found myself reading every single page and every single article.
What’s even more amazing, Jobs died on Wednesday and this issue hit newsstands on Sunday, meaning the editorial team put together this entire issue in a matter of days which is an unbelievably tight deadline. Add to that, there is not one advertisement in the issue, every page is dedicated to telling Jobs’s story.
This issue is a great testament to beautiful editorial design and a fitting tribute to the man who gave us desktop publishing in the first place. This issue will sit on my shelf next to my favorite Steve Jobs magazine cover.
“In the coming years, Steve Jobs’s life and work will be even more scrutinized, even more imitated than they are now. But to simply ask “what would Steve do?” would be to miss the point. It would be accepting the very dogma he warned us against, living with the results of his thinking, not our own. To be true to Steve, we must listen to the music playing within each of us, and tune our actions accordingly. To honor his life, we must honor our own, taking inspration not merely from his actions and beliefs, but their integrity.”
Genius: Range of mind, power of imagination, and responsiveness of soul: this is genius. The man of genius has a soul with greater range, can therefore be struck by the feelings of all beings, is concerned with everything in nature, and never receives an idea that does not evoke a feeling. Everything stirs him and everything is retained within him.
When the soul has been moved by an object itself, it is even more affected by the memory of the object. But in a man of genius imagination goes further: it recalls ideas with a more vivid feeling than it received them, because to these ideas are connected a thousand others more appropriate to arouse the feeling.
—Jean-François de Saint-Lambert, from the Encyclopédie.
A New Tomorrow
I fell asleep last night with tears in my eyes. The world had lost a visionary and an innovator that we have no problem comparing to Edison, Ford, Disney, or Henson. My heart was heavy. It hurts when we lose someone who changed so much. It feels like something much bigger than one man is lost; we’ve lost his vision of the future.
One thing I learned from Steve Jobs is that you can’t look back, living in the past. He was ridiculed when people thought he cut features prematurely; the floppy drive, the optical drive, Flash. Little did we know the future he saw didn’t need these things so they had to go. We always came around. He was just looking forward when we couldn’t. And maybe that’s why it hurts when you think his most prolific years were his last. It feels like he was just getting started.
But maybe that’s the best way to honor his legacy. He was never thinking about yesterday and he wouldn’t want us to. The tools he helped create showed us a vision of a new tomorrow but they also invited us to help build that future. The tools Jobs helped conceive helped us to live better but they also helped us create better.
So while yesterday was about mourning and grieving and crying. Today is about creation. Today is about looking forward and building a new tomorrow. A better tomorrow.
That’s how Steve lived. And we’re all better off for it.
Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011
An hour ago, I found myself sitting alone in an empty park, tears streaming down my cheeks and dripping on to my jacket. This little corner of New York City felt strangely still tonight.
The texts keep coming. Andy, Ryan, Jenn, Sarah, and Tyler wrote as if a family member had passed. And in some strange way, that’s what it feels like. Those that know me know the profound impact Steve had on me. I can’t write an obituary and I don’t want to. Other people can do that, and will do it better. But I can say Steve Jobs was a hero, an inspiration, and influenced my life in more ways than I can count.
It’s rare for a single man to give us a glimpse of a new tomorrow, a new way of looking at the world. But we got to witness it and we got to see that new future unfold and it hurts to know they are gone.
So tonight, wiping the tears away, all I see is that sparkle in his eyes, a grin across his face, the excitement in his voice as he shows the world a product that you know he truly believes is magical. I’m lucky to have witnessed it.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. (From his 2005 commencement address)
“What makes great art often unsettling to contemplate is the palpable presence of the generous hand behind it, a hand that is, just like us, mortal. No matter how great, all artists die, and despite the dedicated efforts of many talented people, the Muppet moment has died. All the keepsakes in the world won’t change that. This is okay, even desirable, because it means a new moment might surface at any moment. It just won’t look anything like the old one.”
Weekend at Kermie’s: The Muppets’ Strange Life After Death
I love this quote (and the entire article) for a variety of reasons. I think of all my favorite artists who have died and I can’t help but wonder what else they had in them that never made it out, what more other masterpiece is left unfinished because their life was taken too soon. The Muppets are a perfect example—when Henson died, the Muppets were never the same.
And, in light of recent events, I can’t help but think of Steve Jobs and Apple when reading that. Apple won’t be the same without him, there is no doubt about that and sometimes it’s hard to think about a time when Jobs is no longer with us and we wonder what other products were in his head. But, this is also a time for a new Apple. I’m excited to see what they have in store.
(Also, interesting footnote, Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords is writing all the music for the new Muppets film. And that is all kinds of awesome.)
“If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to, you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don’t stay.”
“This was a very typical time. I was single. All you needed was a cup of tea, a light, and your stereo, you know, and that’s what I had.” —Steve Jobs
“Jobs (and by extension, Apple) has taught me (and I am sure others) a big lesson: If you want to change something, you have to be patient and take the long view. If Apple and Steve’s incredible comeback teaches us something, it’s that when you are right and the world doesn’t see it that way, you just have to be patient and wait for the world to change its mind.”
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 invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some 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.
Thanks for changing the world, Steve. We all wish you the best…