I’m fortunate to work with some pretty cool people at Music EduTech company ArtistWorks. Our team members in Napa, New York and LA are re-imagining music education for the 21st Century and it’s all because our company founder David Butler has a vision for how anyone, in any country, can learn from some of the best music teachers in the world. I wanted to to share with you an email he sent around the company this week following the death of Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs passed away yesterday, something we sensed was coming, yet the news is still comes as shock. I cannot hope to improve on the many touching tributes that his passing is inspiring. I can tell you this: Without Steve, there would be no ArtistWorks. ArtistWorks is inextricably linked to Steve’s inventions and his genius.
I could not believe the elegance of the Macintosh computer when I first laid my hands on one in 1984. It was early in my career, having graduated from college just four years prior. In college, and early in my career, I had studied and worked in computer graphics, when such a term was still in use. Steve’s Macintosh would eventually turn every computer into a graphics computer. The Macintosh computer attracted a new generation of creative and artistic young people to the technology field: Suddenly technology was cool. The fusion of technology, art, and design that the Macintosh inspired revolutionized businesses, education, and entertainment. I jumped on the Mac bandwagon early, and immersed myself in “all things Mac”. I became known as a user interface expert, which propelled my career forward. But in fact I owe my understanding of design, and user interface principles, to Steve.
But it is not only his inventions that inspired us. Steve’s intolerance for mediocrity and his demand for excellence in the people who worked for him influenced a generation of technology entrepreneurs, myself included. At times tough and unforgiving, Steve demanded that everyone around him give his or her best. I know of more than one person who left Apple, withering under Steve’s sometimes harsh management style. But in retrospect, it is easy to see that he was driven by a singular vision, and those who “had the chops” to stick it out with him were rewarded with the great accomplishments of their careers. Steve had no patience for market research, saying that consumers, in fact, cannot possibly know what they want before they see it. Over the years Steve was proven right: Innovators must lead.
He suffered the indignity of being tossed out of Apple in 1985. Although he left Apple with plenty of material success, he was restless. He started NeXT, the company that was to lay the foundational work for OSX. He bought a struggling graphics company called Pixar. Under Steve’s guidance, Pixar became a powerhouse in great family movie entertainment. In 1997 Steve returned to fix a broken, money-losing Apple. Steve could not stand seeing the great Apple brand tarnished. Any doubts about Steve’s genius were obliterated by his accomplishments after his return to Apple. Due to Steve Jobs, Apple is now considered the most valuable company in the world.
We do not know much about his personal life. He simply did not live in public. He was a quiet, family man. Since 2003, he knew his time on this earth was likely to be short. Yet he did not despair. Many of his greatest accomplishments occurred during his latter years. OSX, MacBooks, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He left us with this wisdom:
“Each day I ask myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Steve Jobs June 12, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address