The irony of this blog post is that I’m writing it from Redmond, Washington where I’m working on a large project for Microsoft.
I respect Microsoft as an organization. And I deeply respect Bill Gates. But I never loved any of the many PCs I’ve owned. And I love my MacBook Air. Yes, I love a machine. Therein lies all the difference.
Apple captured my heart. And it required leadership powerful enough to generate a voluntary change in mindset and a shift in behaviors – including shelling out a lot of cash. This is the goal of a lot of leadership efforts, and as any leader will tell you, it’s incredibly difficult.
So did Apple win my heart because Steve Jobs was a touchy, feely kind of leader? Ah, no.
He did it by building an entire company focused on making my experience as a user as seamless and hassle-free as possible. Even fun. Even joyful.
The three key words in that paragraph: Fun. Joyful. Experience.
Why did I make the switch? I was intrigued by all the fuss.
I also wanted to force my own learning curve. As a middle-aged, non-technical professional, I’m aware that I’m forever at risk of thinking and acting like an old fart consultant. I bought a Mac to see if I was capable of working off a new platform. The existing operating system, while often painful, was known and comfortable. It was a way to live my own message: embrace the challenge of change as a way of being.
So, it happened. I successfully switched.
I adore the look and feel of my MacBook Air as I write these words – ditto for my iPhone and iPad on the table next to me. I love going to the Apple Store. I’m even a regular One-to-One client. It’s hard to overstate the significance of these sentences when you think of what it required. To write them, a company had to do some serious enticing.
Great leadership is about creating the conditions for voluntary engagement. Steve Jobs understood this, and did it well.
Here are a couple of video clips of Steve Jobs in his own words. I recommend investing a few minutes of your time to watch. He offers some great executive coaching.
In this first clip from a 2005 Commencement Speech at Standford University, Jobs touches on:
- Connecting the dots;
Love and Loss;
Staying Hungry and Foolish; and
“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.” — Steve Jobs
This second clip is on managing people. In this video, Jobs touches on the concept that you should be run by ideas, not hierarchy.
Amidst all the millions who are expressing their gratitude, admiration, and life changing (joyful) experiences today via Twitter, Facebook and all the other outlets likely to be accessed through Jobs-ian products, I would be remiss not to share mine too. I hope this post is a small tribute, and a reminder to us all…
Thank you, Steve.