On the day Steve Jobs died, I listened to a replay of his 2005 Stanford University commencement address, where he told three awe inspiring stories that helped connect the dots in his life. I sat mesmerized. I fell in love.
Then I read reports of Steve Jobs’ lack of philanthropy. I learned that he refused to join the nearly 70 U.S. billionaires who have pledged to give away at least half their fortunes, led by Berkshire Hathaway‘s Warren Buffett and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Was he so single minded and self-centered that he felt himself above this philanthropic campaign? I felt disillusioned. My new found hero was tumbling to the ground.
I had to regroup, and regroup I did. I began to reflect on a different facet to Steve Jobs – the Steve Jobs who was on the forefront of the PC revolution, who introduced technologies that have revolutionized our everyday lives: the Macintosh computer, Ipods, Ipads, Iphones, and apps. Can you wrap your brain around how different our world would be today without his innovations? The model of courage, perseverance and determination he exemplified by starting out in an empty garage with a seed of an idea and building a firm worth $350 billion – that’s $350 billion in shareholder value that didn’t exist 35 years ago. I thought about his employees’ salaries and benefits —at Apple, NeXT and Pixar. That’s a lot of wealth being put back into our economy as his employees invested, made purchases, paid taxes and possibly gave to charities of their choosing.
Suddenly it hit me. Maybe Jobs wasn’t big on donating to charities. But he surely was big on creating products that have enriched our lives, big on creating huge numbers of jobs and putting money back into our economy. Like everything else he did in his life, Steve Jobs did it his way, leaving a legacy that impacts all those he leaves behind. So he too, has become one of my heroes.
Steve, you too have made this world a better place.
Remember, we can do this – one person at a time!