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Maria Rodale

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Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and the State of Change

Posted: 01/29/10 09:25 AM ET

On Wednesday, I watched two big speeches.

On Huffingtonpost.com--along with about 800,000 other people (you could see the number of people watching it change in real time)--I saw a blurry Steve Jobs unveil Apple's latest creation, the iPad, thanks to some guy holding up an iPhone to record the event. The video quality was spotty. In fact, you could tell that he was holding the phone because the image rose and fell with his breathing. While watching, I followed the bajillion Twitter updates and had the reassuring, immediate knowledge that I was not alone in equating the iPad's name to a feminine hygiene product. At the same time, I was emailing back and forth with one of my favorite geeks, David Kang, trading commentary--both informative and funny--regarding the product launch as it was occurring.

It felt like a moment in history. Not so much because of the new product, but because of how technology is so changing our lives; and I, by embracing it, feel the thrill of the ride. Still, I couldn't help but wonder (in fact, I wondered it aloud by tweeting) if any women at Apple had been involved in naming the iPad. In fact, when I googled the company's management team, I found there is not a single woman at the top. There is one woman on the board, Andrea Chung, who is chairman and CEO of Avon--a women's brand if ever there was one. But I imagined being her in the board meetings: the only woman, a woman executive who has really been in the deep trenches for a long time, who probably had to act like a man to get ahead, more so than younger woman do today. And I thought that she might hesitate to bring up feminine products to the Apple management crowd. Personally, I might have the guts to bring it up to Al Gore (whom I know) and Steve Jobs (whom I don't)--but readers, as you know, I'm not the typical woman in business! (My husband is rolling his eyes right now.)

As a writer and former artist (who the hell has time for that these days?!) I am excited by the iPad and what it means for books and magazines. It's a creative challenge, and we are up for it. But it's not going to be easy--change never is.

Which brings me to the second speech I watched that day, the SOTU (State of the Union) as it was known on Twitter. I was wondering how Mr. President was going to pull his term out of its nosedive, and I have to say, I was proud of him. He was firm, funny, and to the point. I'm sorry, readers, if you disagree--I know a lot of you might have different views and that's OK--but I am an Obama supporter, and here's why. He gets a bad rap for big government, but in researching my upcoming book Organic Manifesto, I realized that we are all to blame for it--Republicans just as much (if not more) than Democrats. The book is on its way to the printer as we speak, so I can't change what I wrote. But I don't want to. In it, I said that no one in Washington has the courage to do what needs to be done to stop the spending in Washington. Well, I was wrong. Barack Obama has the courage.

The most embarrassing moment of the SOTU was when Obama mentioned all the tax cuts he had made since he was in office, and not a single Republican clapped or stood. The emotion I saw on their faces was more like seething jealousy than any true disagreement.

So what does the SOTU have to do with the iPad? It's time to grow up, America! We need to work together if we are going to get ourselves out of this mess and create a future in which we can survive on this planet. Men need to learn from women (this includes you, Apple) and work together. Democrats and Republicans need to get over their juvenile competition and put the American people first. All Americans need to remember the patriotism that unites us when times are tough, and focus on the courage to lead and follow our leader. That's going to take some change.

As I say in my book, change is hard. It makes people cry, and it's also uncomfortable. But it's absolutely necessary. I for one am on board and willing to serve.

After all, I am proud to be an American. Together, we Americans have faced so many changes--and it's those very changes that keep us great.

For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.

 
 
 

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