By Alex Romanovich, Founder of EuroSpaClub International and Social2B
Inspired by this avatar designed by Jonathan Mak, a Hong Kong student, watching hours of YouTube videos of Steve Jobs appearances, and hunting in my attic to find some relics of my 80′s ‘IBM geek era’, I decided to write this blog post.
I wanted to get things out – heavy thoughts that had accumulated in my head and were firmly sitting on my chest. Mixed feelings of nostalgia, anger and hope, were bunched up together, looking to get out in some form of communication with my close friends and those who could relate.
The first thought that came through my mind – how can the world lose someone like Steve Jobs when we need substance, innovation and forward thinking more than ever?
But the world goes on.
I met Steve twice in the late 80′s, at a few ‘geek’ functions and conferences. All but for 1-2 minutes per each encounter – once to shake his hand and once to look into his eyes, and another time to simply stand beside him and listen. I didn’t have to really listen – just being next to him and looking at him was enough – his piercing smile, his energy, and his presence spoke a lot.
Steve was the shining light in design, innovation and technology – he was feared, admired and ridiculed in the 80s and 90s, and then was absolutely revered in 2000s. His death is a jolt to many of us who are still looking for answers – in marketing, technology, management and leadership. This type of jolt will be remembered, and hopefully will be applied as an example of what to do better and how to focus in the future. And most importantly – how to deliver.
As a marketer and a former technology architect, I try to apply many ‘textbook’ examples or case studies from the industry to do the ‘right stuff’, yet, Steve’s new video or Apple’s latest ‘surprise’ announcement always defies conventional ‘marketing logic’ for me.
He didn’t believe in focus groups, and he didn’t think that ‘the customer is always right’.
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – was his mantra throughout the years.
He always thought that ‘stealing ideas to make yours better’ was OK, and it is better to be a ‘pirate than to join a navy’. “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” – was another one of his controversial remarks.
And yet he was a staunch supporter of anti-piracy laws.
I was a WinTel PC and Unix Workstation user for over 20 years and would always dismiss a Mac as a ‘toy’, a ‘school box’, an ‘artist eye candy’. Yet, after the announcement of the iPhone, I caved in – I bought a MacBook Pro and wanted to really understand what everyone was so ‘giddy’ about. After using the Mac for about 3 months, with ‘cloud’ and all, I finally got it.
I finally understood that for Steve, ‘marketing’ and ‘product development’ was not just a process of delivering great products – it was the product itself and how it changed our lives and our emotions. For him, branding was not just about visuals and great communications – it was about making products and delivering services that carried that branding forward and delighted you every day. It’s as if he programmed his entire product family to carry his message and his passion forward on its own.
So I am hooked, and every time I will go back to other products, I will expect the same quality. I will expect the same level of integration, design and passion. And I will expect the same from my partners, my team and my rivals. And most importantly, I will do my best to deliver the same.
Steve’s death jolted me into thinking that you can’t really call it ‘marketing’ until you do exactly what he did. And as a great prize fighter, he exited the rink.
We will continue to wonder about the ‘next Steve Jobs’ and may come out empty-handed. It doesn’t really matter, because Steve did what very few could accomplish – he took his passion, his ideas, his relentless pursuit of quality, his ‘dictatorship’ and his quirkiness and focused on delivering a product that can stand up to his dreams in many ways.
He completed the circle and he delivered on the promise of his vision – something that many companies are still trying to do after decades and billions of dollars of investment. In the end, the lesson learned for marketers and technologists – it’s not enough to have a vision or good intentions; it’s not enough to build great teams and command great budgets; it’s not enough to produce great products.
It’s about completing the circle, delivering on the promise of the brand, and doing it over and over again. As for Steve – he set the bar for all of us in technology, business, marketing and government. It’s up to us to live up to his expectations.
Rest in Peace; you will always be in our hearts as a shining beacon of hope!