“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve encountered to help me make the big choices in life”, said Steve Jobs during a Stanford commencement ceremony to a packed audience in 2005, in his distinctive relaxed and informal, yet gracious tone.
In August 2004, Jobs first made public his diagnosis of a rare form of cancer called ‘islet-cell neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer.’ This knowledge of his impending death urged Jobs to make the best out of the remaining days of his life – and hence he told about his disease as the tool which helped him to make big choices in life. His determination to succeed in life against all odds was augmented by the knowledge that his days are counted. This fired up his creative genius and inventiveness.
By all human standards, Steven Paul Jobs (24th February, 1955 – 5th October, 2011) would have been an utter failure in life – a college dropout who struggled to make both ends meet, yet by grit and gumption rose to become one of the pioneer charismatic leaders of the personal computer space.
He was co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Inc., an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers; co-founder and chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios, an American computer animation film studio and board member of Walt Disney Company – proof of the determination of a man who believed that ‘you are the master of your destiny’.
Jobs was born in San Francisco, California, to Wisconsin graduate students Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, a Syrian Muslim and Joanne Carole Scheilbe, an American of German descent. He was placed for adoption against Jandali’s wishes, after Scheilbe’s father opposed their marriage. They married four months after Scheilbe’s father died and ten months after their son was given for adoption.
He was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, a lower-middle class couple from Bay Area. Paul was a machinist for a company that made lasers, and Clara, an accountant. Though he lacked a deep understanding of electronics, Paul introduced Jobs to the world of electronics. Exposure to electronics opened up new vistas for innovative consumer electronics for Jobs. Later, Jobs became friends with Steve Wozniak, a Polish American computer engineer and programmer who co-founded Apple Computer Co, an association that played a pivotal role in Job’s phenomenal career in electronic wizardry.
In 1972, Jobs joined Reed College, but dropped out after just one semester, as Reed was an expensive institution and it put too much of a strain on his parents’ finances. His passion for life and yearning to make it big in life made him attend auditing classes; he used to sleep on the floor in friends’ rooms, return Coke bottles for food money and get weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.
Not satisfied with humdrum existence, Jobs turned to discover life’s higher purpose – a step that took him to spirituality and Zen Buddhism. He felt only spirituality could fill the vacuum in his life. He took spirituality very seriously and spurned mundane gratifications to pursue his higher goal. His spiritual cravings took him on a pilgrimage to India, when he was only 18 years old. His desire was to meet Neem Karoli Baba, a mystic saint of North India, to get enlightenment to unleash his latent potentiality. But, unfortunately, the guru died before Jobs could reach his ashram in Nainital.
Jobs, along with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple in 1976, when they realized that they had the potential to do something which would revolutionzise micro-computing. In the early 1980s, Jobs saw the commercial potential of Xerox PARC’s mouse-driven graphical user interface, which led to the creation of Apple Lisa, named after his daughter from a previous marriage, and later, the Macintosh. The Macintosh became the first commercially successful computer with a graphical user interface.
Committed to his dreams, Jobs was willing to go to any extent to make things happen. He would continue his meetings past midnights, shoot out lengthy faxes and start new meetings as early as 7 am. Jobs had a passion to launch innovative products, which proved to be expensive. In 1985, the Apple’s board of directors asked John Sculley, the then CEO of Apple, to rethink about limiting Jobs’ ability to launch such products.
Finally, the board removed Jobs as the head of the Macintosh division. Not to be cowed down, Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT Inc, a computer company that developed and manufactured a series of computer workstations, the same year. Seeing the growth prospects of NeXT, Apple announced its intention to acquire NeXT. Finally, Jobs came back to the company he co-founded and became its CEO in 1997. A grand homecoming for a man who never let his dreams die.
Jobs’ approach to life was always distinctly offbeat. Despite his diagnosis of cancer, Jobs refused mainstream medical help and instead, opted for alternative medical treatment like acupuncture and herbal remedies.
Jobs was determined to create things off-the-wall. This determination fuelled in him an inner urge to tread the untrodden path. He always set his own benchmark in whatever he did. He leaves behind an impressive legacy of innovative inventions that has forever changed the way technology touches human lives – the wide spectrum consisting of computers, iPod, iTunes digital music software, iTunes Store and the like. He has to his credit 43 US patents on inventions. Forbes listed him as the 34th richest American, with $ 7 Billion net worth, as of September 2011. Further, Forbes rated him as the 17th most powerful person in the world.
When facing struggles and challenges in life, Jobs’ eyes never deviated from the high standards he kept for himself. The entire world mourned the death of this great visionary and charismatic pioneer, on October 5th. The lighted candles and tearful eyes in front of Apple stores all around the globe stood as a silent testimony of the greatness of this great genius who carved a niche for himself and touched the tech-heart of the present generation.
Mr Steven Paul Jobs, you lived your life well. You once said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” You proved your conviction by your life.
A Job well done, sir!