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Steve Jobs - My Hero’s Mastery Journey

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Steve Jobs: Visionary Genius

Steve Jobs was one of the most influential people in the media over the last 25 years. Steve Jobs changed technology and entertainment that hasn’t been seen since Thomas Edison illuminated the world, radicalizing the technology and telecommunications industry. Jobs was born in San Francisco, California February 24, 1955. “Jobs was an avid computer hobbyist who dropped out of Reed College after his first semester. At the age of 21, he founded Apple Computer, Inc., with Stephen G. Wozniak, a friend and fellow computer hobbyist” (Jobs).

Step One: The Creative Task

The creative task involves being able to alter one’s concept of creativity and try to see things from a new angle – especially design! “Most often, people associate creativity with something intellectual, a particular way of thinking” (Greene, 179). Steve Jobs was a pioneer; he revolutionized the technology world, but also the music and movie world as well as the telephone. Jobs took what was there and he made it better. In the movie JOBS, you see the creativity of Steve portrayed through his design of the iMac and the first generation iPod, which is shown in the opening scene of the movie.

Step Two: Creative Strategies

According to poet John Keats, “we must be capable of negating our ego. We are by nature fearful and insecure creatures. We do not like what is unfamiliar or unknown. To compensate for this, we assert ourselves with opinions and ideas that make us seem strong and certain” (Green, 181). In order to be driven to mastery, you must learn to walk the walk and to talk the talk, something Jobs showed in everything he did. In 1976, Wozniak and Jobs completed their first computer, the Apple I. A year later, the two completed and released an instantly popular fully packaged computer known as the Apple II. By 1981, the Apple Computers, Inc. grew into a $500 million public corporation, and in 1984 the Macintosh computer was released. “The Macintosh set the standard for ease of use, or user-friendliness, in PCs” (Jobs).

Job’s leadership style was bizarre, even autocratic. He was extremely detail oriented and had a meticulous eye for such. As such, he surrounded himself like-minded individuals who would follow his lead. Jobs was extremely demanding of his workers and was not much of a delegator. He involved or inserted himself in every project possible, and every detail of the design of each project. Because of intense competition and internal dissention, Jobs was forced to leave his company in 1985. After Jobs was forced out of his company, he went on to form NeXT Computer, Inc., and he also formed Pixar, the maker of many childhood movies, such as “Toy Story”.

Step Three: The Creative Breakthrough

As Green points out in the text, at a particular high point of tension or stress, the individual lets go, or move onto to something else. For Jobs, this was Pixar, and working closely with Disney to create computer generated animation movies. A week after “Toy Story” was released, Jobs took Pixar public, and was immediately back on the market, making waves – while Apple was sinking and falling to Bill Gates and his crew of workers with the release of Windows 95. The apple computer failed to change or evolve for over a decade while Jobs was away, exploring other ventures. The then current Apple CEO, Gil Amilio, looked for software to replace the old Mac OS. Amilio approached Jobs and brought him back to the company. Apple acquired Jobs’ NeXT operating system, and brought Steve in as an “informal adviser to the CEO”. After a $700 million loss of the first quarter of 1997, the board of directors decided it was time for a change, and Jobs staged a board coo and was named interim CEO of Apple in July 1997. Todd Finkle and Michael Mallin expand on Jobs’ drive and desire to be successful and breakthrough with his creativity.

Jobs demonstrated his willing to take a risk early on by selling his Volkswagen van for start-up capital for Apple. Later, he invested capital to start new companies (like NeXT) and existing companies like Pixar. Although all of his risks were not rewarded (e.g., NeXT was ultimately dissolved), he was able benefit from his investment and effort to make Pixar a success. (p. 51)

Emotional Pitfall

Impatience best describes the emotional pitfall Jobs faced in his quest for mastery and success. Jobs was passionate about his hobby which quickly became his life’s work. Early in life, Jobs found school was too easy and was able to skip fifth grade, moving directly to middle school. Later in life, as he worked for Atari, many of his coworkers viewed him as “arrogant and overly confident, often referring to co-workers as bozos” (Finkle, 50). While Jobs was with Pixar, the animation studio decided to part ways with their distribution deal with Disney, because of rising tensions between Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Steve Jobs. Job openly said he would not make another deal with the “Mouse” until Eisner was out. Pixar and Disney merged after Disney ousted Eisner as CEO, and a deal was reached with the new and current CEO, Robert Iger. Jobs was passionate, intelligent, confident, resourceful, driven, hard-working, charismatic, persuasive, was opportunistic, a visionary, and was willing to always take risks. In late 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In 2008, Jobs was in poor health, and was not able to participate in the final MacWorld Keynote in history, and he had to take 6 months off awaiting a liver transplant. Discussion arose form his poor health, about transparency of the company necessary for their CEO’s health, especially when that CEO is as essential to its market value as Steve Jobs is to Apple.

Strategies for the Creative-Active Phase

I personally believe Steve Jobs is of the mechanical intelligence, much like the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. “Although the boys were reasonably good at schoolwork, neither of them received a high school diploma. They wanted to live in a world of machines, and the only knowledge that really interested them was that which related to the design and construction of some new device. They were extremely practical” (Green, 214).

Much like the Wright brothers, Steve Jobs was driven, even when he faced multiple bumps in the road he continued to keep on keeping on. The Wright brothers, like Jobs, continued failed attempt after failed attempt to perfect the first flying airplane.

After Job’s surgery, he soldiered on for 6 more years and the public knew nothing of the severity of his health concerns, until August of 2011, when his resignation was released, leaving Tim Cook as CEO of Apple. Jobs said he would keep going until he physically couldn’t do his job any longer. Steve Jobs was a workaholic and he was proud of it. Job’s Coworkers released a statement saying “it was Steve’s vision and leadership that saved Apple and guided it to its position as the worlds most innovative and valuable technology company.”

Jobs passed away just six weeks after his resignation form his company in his home in Paolo Alto, California, October 5, 2011. He was 56.

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