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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Thank You Steve Jobs - You Enriched Our Lives By Enriching Your Own

By Paul Tomori
Wednesday, October 05, 2011 at 23:59:59 (EDT)

As I chatted with a friend this evening on my iPhone, the text message came in from my wife, "Steve Jobs has passed away". Everyone knew he was ill, but the news still hit. We think of the mess the world is in, the out of control debt everywhere, the jobs crisis, the looming threat of recession... and we think of all the people who waste their lives in pointless folly or sad desperation. And by contrast, there was Steve Jobs.

I didn't like Mac computers for a long time, but it was a dislike from ignorance. As a web programmer, I was always having to take into account how my work would function for the 5% of users on Mac. It was an ongoing annoyance. Of course, constantly dealing with PC problems, viruses and hardware incompatibilities on my PCs was my unacknowledged far greater annoyance.

With my mother-in-law raving about her Mac and a good friend swapping out all of his business PCs for Macs a few years ago, I finally caved and bought a MacBook (just to see what all the fuss was about). From there, it was all I could do to keep from driving my old PCs straight to the dump. And, that was when my respect for Mr. Jobs grew.

Imagine taking a company from near-bankruptcy in 1996 to the world's largest company in August 2011 (albeit temporarily number 1 before dropping to number 2). If you look at Apple's balance sheet, they have a HUGE cash horde and zero debt. There are almost no companies on the S&P that can claim zero debt. There was even a day or two when Apple had more cash on hand than the US Government back in early August 2011.

What drives that success? From 35,000 feet, it's having great products that are loved everywhere. iPods that hold thousands of songs in your pocket, iPhone's that make computer gesturing and video telephony a reality, laptops that just work with no fiddling with drivers and installs.

But from up close, what drove Steve Jobs success is the same quality that he brought to his garage in California back in the mid-70's, a simple desire to do something great. Why did Steve and his partner Steve Wozniak work in Steve Jobs garage at the launch of Apple? Simple. They had no money. All they had was vision, a sense of purpose, intense focus, and an opportunistic sense of what the world might want to buy. What was the last thing you did in YOUR garage. What separates you from doing something remarkable? Ambition perhaps... extraordinary intellect perhaps... or maybe just the willingness to work and work hard for what you want. Of all the young people I know, I don't see that fire in any of them, at least not yet. They generally possess the mentality of entitlement or of expectation. That is to say that their vision of their future involves going to work for some company where a job is waiting for them, where they will fit like a cog in a wheel and where they hopefully won't have to think too much.

We don't need government bailouts. We don't need stimulus packages. We just need ordinary people to add value to this world. If there is no buyer at first, just add value to your own world. Paint the room where the paint is old and tired. Put up a partition or knock down a wall in your house. Buy an old desk or cabinet and strip it down. Make your world a little richer and build from there. When it comes to paid work, make sure you put in an honest full day's work. Engage your mind to actually solve problems and add value. Are you surfing Facebook at work? That's time-theft. You're stealing from your company. But more importantly, you're stealing from yourself by depriving yourself of the personal growth that might otherwise have come of that time. That's the fine line between ordinary and extraordinary. Take a page from Steve Jobs playbook and just be a little bit extraordinary... to start with... that will inspire greater and greater feats. Have a big vision for what you can achieve and set your standards very high and don't wait for someone to show you the way: forge your own way.

Thanks Steve - you left the world richer with your products, but you left us all richer still with your inspiration.

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