It seems everyone in my father’s generation can tell you where they were when John F. Kennedy (JFK) was assassinated.   Regardless of political opinions, it is no surprise that JFK would have this level of impact on that generation. 

On October 5th I was in Starbucks working on a personal project, killing time before I had to pick up my son from soccer practice. A lady sat down next to me and opened her computer.  Next I heard her shriek, “Oh my God!”  I turned to see a white page on her computer with a photo of Steve Jobs and the dates 1955-2011.  She turned to me and said, “Steve Jobs died.”  My stomach sunk.  Another man across from her gasps as well.  As did another person in the store.  Ironically, three of us were working on our Apple laptops and the fourth was playing on their iPhone.  How fitting that the four of us found out about his death when her computer opened the Apple webpage.  We spent the next thirty minutes sharing Apple stories. 

So is it fair for me to compare the death of JFK to Steve Jobs?  I am sure many of those from my father’s generation would say no, JFK was our country’s President.  But if you ask me and those who are part of the generations after me, the answer would be a resounding yes!  When I decided to comment on this I promised myself that I would only do this if I could add a fresh perspective to the story. This is why I have waited a few weeks to comment. The news has been saturated with information and stories about the man and his company. 

At first I thought I had nothing new or different to offer.  I think David Pogue of the New York Times summarized it best on the CBS Sunday Morning News.  Pogue commented that with the passing of Steve Jobs the world lost four of its greatest minds, Steve Jobs the designer, marketer, businessman and visionary.  Every point I started to write about seemed to fall into one of these four brains. 

Then I realized what real impact Jobs had on me.  If you remember my last blog had some fun with enterprise software commercials and slogan’s.  Ironically, it was an Apple commercial and catchy slogan that represented Steve Jobs to me. 

The commercial aired in 1997 and featured Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso. 

“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 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. – Apple Inc.”

(This image came from artist Hugh MacLeod and can be viewed on his blog.)

This Apple commercial is how Steve Jobs impacted me the most, not my iBook, iPod, iPhone or iPad.  Sure some marketing folks wrote and produced it, but it represented Jobs perfectly.  This commercial has inspired both my personal and private life, more so than any gadget ever could.  When I feel beat or down about life or work, I watch this commercial.  It inspires me to, well; there is no better way to say it, “THINK DIFFERENT”.    If you ask any of my family, friends or coworkers they can vouch, I try to think different.

So I will remember where I was when I heard Steve Jobs died.  I was putting that commercial to practice in my own personal way; the personal project I was working on at the time is a book about my family’s experience of my Mother dying of pancreatic cancer, the same cancer that ultimately killed Jobs.