Remembering Steve Jobs

Much has been written and said about Steve Jobs.

When we look at the visionaries who changed how we live, the disciplined dreamers who changed business, and the CEOs who mastered communication as a core competency, few other names come so quickly to mind.

He inspired us to imagine the difference technology can make.

As communicators, we learn what people hold in their hands to determine the most effective ways to engage. When, years ago, people carried booklets and binders, we communicated with booklets and binders.

Steve Jobs changed what we hold in our hands.

Years after Apple reinvented conventional notions of personal computing, the company made it essential for us to use one device to listen to music, talk on the telephone, make notes in a meeting and read as many newspapers and magazines as we wish. Today, for any company trying to reach any stakeholder, “the app” is an essential part of the discussion.

Back in the early 1980s, when many of us purchased our first Macs – with 124k memory – Apple made us feel we could master technology, express ourselves creatively and bypass code to be a part of the technology revolution. And it still does.

As a communicator, Jobs was a master, carefully balancing the appeal of personality and the necessity for content. Wearing his trademark black shirt, he brilliantly “under-communicated” in performances that never showed signs of hours of rehearsal as he created a sense of spontaneity that made us feel we were there as the ideas were born. His candor, his accessibility, and his belief in his employees and products added to the Apple brand luster no matter the tweaks and bumps.

On stage, Jobs was stunning. It wasn’t his charisma, or how he presented, it was the way he opened up and let anyone see inside his mind. It was the consistency of his persona from one year to the next despite the personal struggles he faced. And it was the absolute clarity of his stories. With Jobs there was no need to read between the lines; it was all there, clear, concise, credible and for us to understand.

For those of us who coach leaders, Jobs will always be the model for the CEO as a public presence for the innovation of his products, the mission of his company and the experience for his customers and customers.

He always made us believe we could be a part of the ride.

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