10/06/2011 01:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2011

Can America Survive Without Steve Jobs?

Yesterday, I sat soberly watching tweets streaming down the screen. Surprised by tears streaming down my face.

"Who's that, daddy?"

"A great man."

"Did you know him?"


"Why are you crying?"

Yesterday's passing of Steve Jobs hit many of us in an unexpectedly powerful and emotional way. It feels greater than the passing of a man. It feels like an end of an era.

Steve represented the best of America. The underdog who stood bravely in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and won. The consummate innovator. The rebel with a cause. The different thinker.

How could America be losing our edge when we have Apple?

As Steve leaves us, we are left to wonder if that American Dream will disappear with him.

If we let the papers determine our fate, it would be the obvious conclusion. The economy is gasping with no end in sight. Our schools are crap. Our government is inept. Our bankers are corrupt. We can't compete with the emerging powers in the world.

Maybe Steve's passing is a sign. Maybe we should just crawl into a hole and make giving up as painless as possible. Spend less. Risk less.


Today, this morning, right fucking now, each and every one of us needs to stand up, look ourselves in the mirror and decide. Are we going to give up or are we going to be like Steve?

We the people need to take Steve's light as a beacon. We do have control over our destinies. When Apple fired Steve, it must have felt like the end of the world. He could have comforted himself with despondency. He could have pulled the plug.

But he didn't. He believed.

And because he believed, he followed his conviction to greatness. He's shown America the road back home.

As I sat in rain and traffic this morning, I listened to President Obama on the radio.

"I believe U.S. companies, U.S. workers, we can compete... I am absolutely confident that we can win... And a huge part of rebuilding this economy on a firm basis -- that's not just reliant on maxed-out credit cards... is dependent on us making things and selling things."

Make and sell products. How? Steve showed us exactly how. By thinking different, making better experiences and investing in quality.

So much of business is focused on cutting costs and avoiding risk. Avoiding risk does not create competitive advantage. Cutting costs does not create opportunity.

Should we allow the failure of a Solyndra to be an excuse for our government to stop investing in our future? To step off the path we need to be on? Is this how we'll survive?

I'm not taking that path. I'm following Steve. I'm going to think different. I choose to believe.