Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Contraian Tribute to Steve Jobs

In memory of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, who was one of the greats in the craft of marketing, and a humble submission to consider that practice of commerce is sometimes easily confused with the commerce of living.
"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." -- Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek, May 25 1998

You have heard it said that you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. But instead let it be said that trust is not the end of all things, but only the process. Your trust will eventually be misplaced...misdirected... or broken... maybe even validated in the end... but that none of these things proves or disproves your trust. Instead, we must trust because we live, and not in the expectation that our trust will lead to our own selfish reward. If a person trusts without the guarantee of gain or positive outcome, it is to their credit. However, trust placed in the certainty of a reward is daydreaming without the risk of sacrifice. If you are certain to begin with, then there is no need to trust. Therefore, all who truly trust necessarily do so at their own risk.

"...If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same...
...Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And,which is more,you'll be a Man, my son!"  
                                    - Rudyard Kipling

You have heard it said that that you should do what you love and to keep looking until you find it. Do not settle. Instead, let it be said that we ought to strive to  love what we do, and that whatever we have been entrusted with we should do so with reverent consideration. Because it serves a person no purpose to dream of a better future while neglecting the needs of the present, let us ask each other to count the blessings that we have now instead of longing selfishly for a future that may never come.

"We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here,
There's big work to do, and there's lesser to do,
And the task you must do is the near.
Douglas Malloch

You have heard it said to follow your own inner voice and that we ought to stay hungry and to stay foolish.  Instead let it be said that we ought to guard against these very things, because hunger and foolishness are the very things that salesmen will use to separate us from our money and life's accumulated work. The one who feeds your hunger is your friend, but the one who tells you that you are hungry and that he has a loaf of bread to sell to you merely wants to do business with you. Though everyone needs to eat to live, let it be said that life is more than the satisfaction of needs and desire. Noble desires do not make a noble person, and desire... even determination and passion... do not determine the world.

"The race is not to the swift 
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise 
or wealth to the brilliant 
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all."
  - Ecclesiastes 9.1

Remembrance of a remarkable life's work in genuine admiration, as guarded as it may be. No surprise that one of the world's greatest marketers would inspire with advice that is easy to hear, but that was his calling... to tell us what we wanted. That was his utopian vision, that was what he sold. But for everything else, we ought to pay attention to the words that are not so easy to hear, and think about what we need instead. Because all men of commerce sell dreams, but struggle with the less inspiration building that vision. Just like the rest of us.

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