Steve Jobs died last week and along with him may have passed some of America's hopes, dreams and potential for future jobs. Bur, this need not be the case, if we can learn the key lessons that Mr. Jobs, this quintessential American, provided through his life, leadership and continuous and incredible ability to reinvent himself and his businesses.
President Obama described Jobs as "among the greatest of American innovators." Many other articles and tributes characterized Jobs as a visionary.
Indeed, Jobs was an innovator and a visionary. But, we think the more accurate label for him would be that of an "evolutionary revolutionary":
Evolutionary, in that Jobs was a life-long learner engaged in a personal and professional journey of exploration, discovery and growth. Revolutionary, in that he was countercultural redefining the industries he touched and transforming part of the world in accordance with his own image, likeness and preferences.
Here are some of the lessons from Mr. Jobs, the evolutionary revolutionary:
Jobs was never a slave to the conventional wisdom. In fact, he played the game the other way. He took the unexpected and unanticipated and made them conventional ways of doing business. There is no better example of this than Jobs' success with Pixar, the computer animation studio that he bought from George Lucas in 1986 for10M. At that time, many in the investment community saw this move by Jobs as dalliance or a pure vanity move. Nothing could have been further from the truth. After helping to develop the next generation of computer graphics and building the Pixar brand through vehicles like Toy Story, he sold Pixar to The Walt Disney Co. for $7.4 billion.
A few commentators have cited Jobs as an example of American exceptionalism. Some dispute the concept of American exceptionalism. No one, on the other hand, could ever dispute the fact that Steve Jobs was an extraordinary American.
This extraordinary American in his dress uniform of sneakers, faded jeans and black mock turtle neck taught his lessons through positive examples and deeds. He stands in stark contrast to pandering politicians in their mental straight jackets and buttoned-down business executives in their camouflage suits who substitute hollow rhetoric and meaningless promises for meaningful actions and problem-solving.
America and the world need extraordinary Americans. Steve Jobs showed us that the future belongs to those who can envision and create it and not to those who are mired in the past and define themselves by limits rather than possibilities.
If we, as American realize this, and heed and act upon his lessons, we will once again be able to renew our American hopes, dreams and jobs. We will be able to respond to the question, "No More Jobs?" with the answer "No! More Jobs!"
Steve Jobs has already answered that question for himself and his business. We need to answer it now for us and our country.