Steve Jobs died yesterday, shortly after stepping down from one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, Apple: a company he founded, and was fired from, and returned to, and then built into a new market standard.
And he built a second company, Pixar, bringing us breakthrough animation. His direction to the team there, “Make it great.”
And he ran both companies simultaneously: Apple Monday through Thursday, and Pixar on Fridays.
Why do we mourn him? Besides our actual feelings about him (whether we knew him or not), and besides all the stories we know about how difficult he could be (and how compelling his courtship of partners could be) — we mourn what he represented: the essential entrepreneur.
Why essential? Because he never quit his dream. Because he succeeded, and failed, and never stopped. That is the definition of an entrepreneur.
Imagine founding a company, relinquishing its control, and being isolated and fired from it. Think about coming back from that experience. Think about moving on and creating a new computer for education instead. Think about returning to your first dream, and re-building your company to a market phenomenon, without becoming bitter.
Consider the joy that it takes, and the stamina, and the perseverance, to keep on keeping on, through the highs and lows, through a lifetime of always envisioning and then creating a next new thing, whether it succeeds or not. And then making the next one.
A colleague of mine wrote me, “…very sad day. He worked right up to the end of his life.”
What a blessing, to work right up to the end of your life, following your passions. You know, we used to say, “He died with his boots on.” Used to be a mark of pride. Who wouldn’t want to “change the world [rather than]…sell sugar water to children”?
Bye, Steve, we’ll miss you. I hope this next adventure is an E-ticket ride too.