I am more emotional about Steve Jobs’ death than I thought I would be. My first instinct was to quash those emotions because it seemed unnatural to be so moved by the death of someone I did not personally know. But then I realized that his vision, passion, charisma, tenacity, perfectionism and ambition have been present for over two-thirds of my life in the very products I used to discover those very same attributes and desires in myself.
I knew Steve because he put so much of himself in the very machines I used to capture my deepest, scariest, saddest, most ambitious, craziest, looniest, cleverest, funniest, ham-handed-est, ridiculest (yes, I know it’s not a word), dreamiest thoughts, fears, ambitions, goals, concepts, drawings, visions and ideas.
I have owned or had assigned to me somewhere near 20 Macs since the first one arrived at my house on a Friday night in 1985. With those Macs as markers and if referenced by name, I can tell you where I was living, what music I liked, the software I used and owned, the friends and crushes I had, who I was talking to online (or if the Internet even existed) and the things that were going on in my life. That I can do this with a product easily dismissed as “consumer technology” is amazing. I mean, who can do this with a VCR?
That Steve taught me to respect polish and perfection, to look outside of “what everybody else is doing,” to amplify that little voice in my head and to respect how humans interact with technology all through the design and presentation of his products is nothing short of astonishing.
I do not idolize people. I think doing so is unfair to them. But I very much model my business and my professional behavior after Steve. He saw both the value of and opportunity in the personal computer and he knew that if he made the most perfect product possible, then he would truly achieve something.
While I know I am no Steve Jobs, I suspect that he would say, “good, you shouldn’t be. You should be Brett Bearce. And you should work to make insanely great things.”