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A Tribute to Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

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For the past 24 years, I have labored deep in the computer industry’s marketing trenches, watching in awe from afar, as Steve Jobs and his company, Apple, delivered one breakthrough product after another.

At a couple of jobs, I worked on Macs and admired their superior user experience up close. But through the years, practicality always won out as I bought one PC after another and used a succession of corporate-issue BlackBerrys.

Several years ago, I finally relented and asked for an iPod for Christmas, my first Apple product. Then, a few months later, I bought my first iPhone. I was completely smitten.

A week ago, my iPhone 3G died with a sudden “pop” in the middle of the night, taking with it snapshots of my niece’s wedding from the day before. Cursing the device for expiring at a most inconvenient time, I briefly considered switching to a high-end Droid.

But I went ahead and bought a replacement iPhone anyway. Why? While the Droid may command the lion’s share of the mass market, the iPhone still sets the standard by which all the other devices are measured. Poignantly, one day after the introduction of the iPhone 4S, Steve Jobs has passed away.

Many will rightly pay tribute to Jobs as the preeminent inventor of our digital age  — a man who transformed our world with his intellect, his imagination and the amazing devices he created. However, more than just technology, Steve Jobs leaves behind, through his example, a legacy of how to live and to die fearlessly.

As Jobs famously told Stanford University graduates in his 2005 commencement address, “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 that 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,” Jobs told the Stanford grads.

I often think of Jobs’ speech whenever I think about taking the safer, easier and more well traveled route in my career and in my personal life.

At age 56, Steve Jobs died way too soon. But he will be long remembered for the wisdom he shared with the Stanford graduates on that June day six years ago. These wise words will probably even outlast the company he co-founded and endure long after the dazzling Macintosh computers, iPods, iPhones and iPads he brought to life go pop in the night.

Written by Sheryl A. Roehl

October 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm

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