Think Different (Reading Steve Jobs’ Biography)

Here’s to the crazy ones.

The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules.

And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. (“Think Different” campaign, 1997)

The first thing that Steve Jobs did when he came back to Apple in 1996 was to commission a new marketing campaign unlike any used in the tech sector at the time. He latched onto what would later become known as “tribal marketing” and decided to make Apple unique among its competitors. Apple would regain a minimalist aesthetic. They would become identified with an idea rather than a product.

In fact, you might say that Apple produces ideas and the products are simply the means by which those ideas are transmitted.

The “Think Different” campaign was wildly minimalist – just black and white photos or video of people who changed the world, with Richard Dreyfuss reading the poem above.

Here is an alternate version with Steve Jobs reading the poem himself.

In reading the story of Jobs’ return to Apple in 1996, I could not help but be struck by a sense that he was very self-aware at that time. He was coming to rescue the company he had founded from the people who did not understand it. He threw himself into it, working often 7am to 9pm every day, with his long-suffering wife at home with their two children. He was in the midst of two revolutions as CEO of Pixar and iCEO of Apple.

What moved him to do this? At first I believed Steve had a narcissist streak in him – a streak a mile wide and running to the core of his being. But reading the way he tackled the revolution, I think there was something else there.

For my money, I believe that Steve Jobs could see what no one else could. It was not so much that he knew what needed to be done, but rather he knew what needed to not be done. He knew how to abandon good ideas so he could focus on great ones. And most importantly, he knew how to challenge others to do the same. Before his ouster in 1985, it was all about Steve Jobs. When he returned, Steve Jobs became about Apple.

He was passionate about the company he had started, but he was more passionate about what that company could become. He believed it was destiny, and he hammered at it with a single-minded focus that made him appear to be a jerk and a narcissist. He believed so strongly in the future he saw that he attacked the present with everything he had.

If Steve Jobs could do that because he was producing ideas – what should pastors be doing when their product is the glory of God?

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