When I interview people for a job, one of my stock questions is: “Who are your influences? Who shaped the way you think about doing your job?” The answer I got back most often is “Steve Jobs”.
Interestingly, people who worked with him called him an untrusting tyrant who criticized everything without rest. He was a screamer and a dictator who pushed people to their limits. These same people often say that it made them better at their jobs, but also made them miserable.
The UX of Steve Jobs is complex. His ideas, passion and point of view were, in a single word, different. Different in the best possible way. The hand motion for Steve Jobs is exactly the same as this in The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
One of my favorite commercials of all time was “Think Different”. I truly believed it was speaking directly to me. When I was 12, I read 1984 by George Orwell. It impressed upon me the horrible future that was possible if everyone were the same. I wanted…needed to be different. I needed to make my mark. I think Steve Jobs felt the same way. His Orwellian theme in the Superbowl ad for the Macintosh shows it as a jab at the negative possibility of being all the same. His “Think Different” ad shows it as the most positive. In the version below it isn’t Richard Dreyfus, but Steve Jobs himself narrating.
The products that Apple produced were different while he was at the helm and interestingly, they were boring and pedestrian while he was away. Apple at its best is a reflection of his values and point of view. The products Apple produced changed the game for computers, music, video, style/fashion and more.
There is a reason people pick him as their answer for influencing their lives. The core of that reason is that he did it different. The reality is that most products are the same. Most people are the same. Yet deep inside most of us, there is this yearning to be special, to be exceptional.
I didn’t know Steve Jobs and I hardly used many Apple products. However, I recognize his impact and include him in my short list of influential people for my career. I bet alot of people would say the same.
I don’t feel sad that he has died, but rather happy that he had lived.