Great CEOs abound in the world of business, but Steve Jobs is different, because the outgoing Apple Inc head is the closest that came to a rockstar in a world of pin-stripe suits and number-crunching overkill.
Here are five things for which I would remember his contribution to the world – not just technology or business.
1. Innovation: Every big company claims to innovate, but Steve Jobs showed us that tweaking up a product and then hiding behind a brand driven by advertising was not the real deal. The Macintosh (desktop computer), iPod (digital music player) and the iPad (tablet computer) are classic examples of how he created new product segments in which Apple blazed a generic trail.
2. Human emotions: Think of a turtle-neck and jeans sporting CEO, telling students “Stay hungry, Stay foolish” at a university convocation while taking his company’s stock up and up on the Nasdaq. This is a man who made geeks feel cool and showed to the world that it is fine to wear your vulnerability on your sleeves than show false strength. Guess what? That has been his strength. And then, he is an adopted son of working class parents.
3. Common sense: “The computer for the rest of us” – is just one of Apple’s numerous slogans that connected with ordinary people, making the back-end vision of uber-engineers the stuff of common consumers. By championing user-friendly interfaces, he ushered in a global revolution.
4. Responsibility: True, Steve Jobs was eased out of Apple in a power struggle once, but in his second coming, his humility has shone through, with an immense sense of responsibility as he disengaged as CEO. “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it,” he said in his exit letter. “And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.”
5. Cult value: Apple has never tried hard to be a global company, and pursued excellence mainly in the US. Its recent surge in China is a rare case in point. But a committed legion of employees, partners and customers have taken it worldwide. Gospel works better than hype.