Here’s to the Crazy Ones, Steve Jobs

“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… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but 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 ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Steve Jobs

i had to write something on this guy.

He is pretty close to being one of my heroes. Due, in part, to his connection with my adorable Mac, who I love with a love that passes PC understanding.  But also due to his initiative, inventiveness, and geniusness as an entrepreneur. When I heard the news, after frantically confirming that it was, in fact, true, I felt like draping my Mac in black mourning, but instead I spent a moment thinking about Steve Job’s life and what it is I admire about him. Here are 5 things I thought of:

He was out-of-the-box

Steve Job’s lived life a little bit differently than other people. He didn’t take the standardized road to “success” or a “good job”. Instead, he dropped out of college after six months. For another eighteen months he hung around taking only courses that intrigued him, and then he quit entirely. And by 20 he was busy in his parent’s garage with a little company called Apple…. fast-forward ten years and Steve has a $2 billion dollar enterprise on his hands. I admire the boldness it took to veer from the accepted path, to climb out of the box set by society, and do what he was called to do. And he didn’t like rules; I like that about him.

He did things

Not too long now, I will be 20. While I doubt I’ll be starting a billion dollar company with my friend (although, hey you never know!) regardless of where I am then, I want to be doing things. That is what inspires me about Steve Jobs: he didn’t just have ideas or big things he wanted to do “someday” in the vague future, he translated those ideas into reality and turned that “someday” into now.

He was a true entrepreneur

He did not just fill a need in the market. He created a need, a market. As Nick Schulz of the American Enterprise Institute wrote in the Wall Street Journal,

“Lots of ninnies can give customers products they want. Jobs gave people products they didn’t know they wanted, and then made those products indispensable to their lives. I didn’t know I needed the ability to read The Wall Street Journal and The Corner on a handsome handheld device at my breakfast table, on the Metro, on the Acela, or in any Starbucks I entered. But Steve Jobs did. I didn’t know I wanted to mix and match my music collection on a computer and take it with me wherever I went, but Steve Jobs did. I didn’t know I wanted a portable multimedia platform that would permit me and my kids to hurl angry birds out of a slingshot at thieving pigs. But Steve Jobs did.”

He failed

Looking back, we tend to view Job’s failures through the softened lens of brilliant success. In the moment though, failure was a very real presence in Steve Job’s life. For instance, he spent tens of millions of dollars developing the epic failure, Lisa, and wasfired by the company he created only ten years after starting it. There’s a lesson to be learned from Steve Job’s relationship with failure: Sholz says it this way,

“All those successes were made possible by failure after failure after failure and the lessons learned from those failures. There’s a moral here for a Washington culture that fears failure too much. In today’s Washington, large banks aren’t permitted to fail; nor are large auto firms. Next up will be too-big-to-fail hospital systems. Steve Jobs is a reminder that failure is a good and necessary thing. And that sometimes the greatest glories are born of catastrophe.”

He didn’t just succeed in spite of his failures; he succeeded through them and because of them. And the advice he leaves us with is this, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

He lived for the bigger picture

He says it so well in his own words, in a Commencement address he delivered to Stanford called, “How to Live Before You Die”:

“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.”

impromptu memorial outside the apple store on fifth avenue, nyc