As carried by Gulf News today, on Page 44.
In our generation there are a few key moments and events that people will always remember where they were when they received news of a certain, usually tragic, event. News of Princess Diana's death and of the Twin Towers being hit are the two most obvious, and I dare say a lot of people will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the demise of Steve Jobs.
My moment came when I was woken up by a text message by someone requesting a quote on Steve Jobs urgently for Gulf News. "In what respect?" I wrote back. Surely, I thought still half asleep, they meant they needed my reaction to the iPhone 4S that had made news just the day before. "Steve Jobs passed away and we need your reaction urgently please!" came the response.
Unfortunately, drafting a quote with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, trying to convey in a few words what this man whom I'd never met but yet had been such a guiding force in my life, is how I'll always remember the moment.
Logging on to Facebook and Twitter, I found a lot of others feeling the exact same sentiment. Almost everyone's status updates were about Jobs and the pages were littered with his quotes, especially the one from his famous commencement speech given at Stanford University. Many had changed their profile pictures and everyone spoke of him in the same way with the words "Creative genius", "game changer" and "Visionary" being thrown about a lot.
Steve Jobs counted as one of the two people in the world I'd most have loved to meet (prolific writer Vikram Seth is the other). Moreover, as known to everyone who knows me, I'm a die-hard Apple fan and was a closeted one for many years before our business relationship with them became official. But yet, while Apple WAS Steve Jobs, to say that Steve Jobs was Apple will be totally missing the point about why a lot of people met the news of his passing with tears in their eyes. What makes the man one of the few (and quite possibly the only) businessmen in history to be looked upon as a cultural icon has, in my opinion, very little to do with Apple at all — it is about what Steve himself represents.
He single-handedly revolutionised not only the computing and animation industry, but gaming, music, the TV and movie industry, and with the iPad, set his eyes on the publishing world. I believe that there is a certain type of man out there for whom success is predisposed in their DNA as failure for them is just not an option.
I believe Jobs would have been a game changer in whatever he decided to do — luckily for us, it was technology innovation that most captured his interest.
Jobs used the slogan ‘Think Different' on Apple ads in the ‘90s, and I believe it was more his personal mantra that he incorporated in all aspects of his life, and continued to do so long after the company ditched the slogan. But to make him sound like a superhuman cartoon figure is also unfair, as Jobs was also quite the tough task master and I dare say we're going to see lots of stories and books over the next few months that claim to expose his darker side. His tyrannical demeanour with his staff is legendary, as was his short temper and sometimes outright arrogance. His Mercedes Benz without plates, usually parked in a handicap parking spot points to a man who also didn't think it important to bother with trivial things like laws. Or clothes apparently, as his now iconic Issey Miyake mock turtleneck, Levi's jeans and New Balance sneakers combo proves. But this Plutonic figure had little regard for the way others viewed him, and truly lived life on his own terms.
The singular most important reason that I've always idolised Steve Jobs is because, for me, he represents, no personifies, an idea that dreams do come true — his life is testament to that. He taught the world with his actions, not just with words, that one man can make a difference. Showed us that while sometimes plans go awry, we have to have faith and know that in the end, if we remain true to ourselves, things will work out OK — or as he put it, the "dots will connect". He was the embodiment of an idea of how a lot of us wish we could be — supremely intelligent, passionately focused with an incredible zest for life and living. No, Steve Jobs was not just Apple... He was so much more.
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