If you want to inspire people to do great work, try the “Yes, and . . .” approach.
“Yes, and . . .” is a popular expression in theater, especially in improvisational comedy. You might have encountered the idea in Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants. The concept refers to accepting someone else’s idea (“yes”) and building on it (“and . . . “). Improv theater absolutely depends on “Yes, and . . . ” because the actors create scenes by building off each other’s improvised ideas and running with them. One actor might start a scene by, say, spontaneously portraying William Shakespeare getting time warped to a modern-day Beyoncé concert. The “Yes, and . . .” occurs when their acting partner onstage builds upon the idea — perhaps improvising as Beyoncé and inviting Shakespeare for a duet of “Drunk in Love.”
By contrast, replying to Shakespeare with an unhelpful “But, Shakespeare, how did you get here?” or improvising with a scene that ignores the presence of Shakespeare shuts down the actor who came up with the idea of the time-warped Shakespeare and kills the improvised moment — the equivalent of a “No, but . . .” that alienates everyone, including the audience.
At the Bristol Renaissance Faire, an outdoor theater where I act on summer weekends, “Yes, and . . .” shapes how the cast collaborates, whether we’re developing new bits of improvisational comedy or ideas for enriching the characters we portray. The principle behind “Yes, and . . . ” is that people become more effective when you affirm them with positive reinforcement and when you apply the power of collaboration to make their ideas better.
The power of “Yes, and . . .” is an important theme in my recent appearance on Allison Pettengill’s Helping History Happen podcast, which focuses on how history inspires people. I hope you will give it a listen. The first part of my conversation with Allison focuses on how I fell in love with history and how historical figures such as T.E. Lawrence and Queen Elizabeth I have inspired me. The second half focuses on how I overcame my self-doubts to successfully audition for the Bristol Renaissance Faire and then built a popular character named Nicolas Wright even though I had zero acting experience when I joined the cast in 2014.
The Bristol Renaissance Faire is a recreation of Bristol, England, on a day in 1574 when Queen Elizabeth came to town (which did in fact happen in history to celebrate the Queen’s signing of the Treaty of Bristol). Each summer, patrons pay to walk through the gates and immerse themselves in a Continue reading →
Superior design means getting little details right — even the parts that no one can see. In his landmark biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson tells the story of Jobs’s obsession to detail in the design of the breakthrough Apple II personal computer, down to the engineering of the power supply inside the computer. Jobs wanted the Apple II to provide power without needing to use a fan inside the unit because he believed fans were distracting. So he hired an engineer named Rod Holt, who created a new power system that was more efficient and superior to a fan-based supply. Isaacson writes:
Jobs’s father had once taught him that a drive for perfection meant caring about the craftsmanship even of the parts unseen. Jobs applied that to the layout of the circuit board inside the Apple II. He rejected the initial design because the lines were not straight enough.
One of my favorite examples of designing the unseen details comes from Outpost Trading Company, which created this Beatles T shirt that depicts A Hard Day’s Night:
The design really gets interesting on the inside, which no one but the owner can see. Beneath the Outpost Trading Company label is an awesome silhouette of the iconic Abbey Road album cover:
The discerning eye might note that the Beatles look like they are walking the wrong way, going from the right side to the left, instead of the left-right sequence depicted on the album cover. But when you wear the T-shirt, the Beatles are walking left to right as they did on the cover — unseen to anyone, like a private joke shared with the shirt wearer.
The unseen details make the difference between an ordinary product and a special experience that rewards the buyer with a more personalized feel. Unseen details also create curiosity: I definitely want to learn more about Outpost Trading Company in addition to admiring the T shirt. Unseen details also send a message to customers: our brand trusts you. We trust you to take the time to notice something subtle about our product, and we trust that you’ll appreciate the effort we have taken to go the extra mile and do something other brands might not do.
These little details are often associated with premium products and services such as gourmet dining. But any kind of brand can embed unseen details in its products and services to achieve surprise and delight, as fast-food chain In-n-Out Burger has done with its “Secret Menu.” The Secret Menu originally consisted of custom-made food orders off the menu, available only if you knew to ask for them. The Secret Menu eventually became not very secret, but the concept still helps In-n-Out Burger position itself as a hip, even cult brand.
Many of us think of Guy Kawasaki as the master of evangelism marketing, but he actually answers to a higher calling: to inspire you and me to be better people. Guy Kawasaki is what I call a market maker. Market makers are not satisfied with simply selling products and services more effectively. They think like artists and aspire to change the way people think, act, and believe.
Guy Kawasaki influenced others by teaching everyday people how to become marketers. And now he’s emerged as a Stephen Covey for the digital era by showing us how your personal values influence your professional success. Today’s re-introduction of Guy Kawasaki completes a recently launched blog series that profiles four famous market makers (including Steve Jobs, Body Shop Founder Anita Roddick, and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun) who formed the foundation of my recently published point of view, How to Be a Market Maker. I hope you are inspired to act like a market maker, too.
If you’ve ever Liked a Facebook page to support a brand, contributed to a program like My Starbucks Idea, or given a shout-out to your favorite restaurant on Yelp out of your sheer love for the place, you’re practicing the kind of consumer evangelism that Kawasaki helped popularize.
Kawasaki cut his teeth in the business world at a jewelry company “counting diamonds and schlepping gold jewelry around the world,” as he told the New York Times. In the jewelry industry, he learned how to sell and “how to take care of your customers.” He would really make his mark from 1983 to 1987 when he joined Apple as a software evangelist for the Macintosh computer, a role that entailed him convincing companies to write software for Mac products and to convince others to start using Macs.
His mandate from Steve Jobs was, “Get me the best collection of software in the personal computer business,” as he would write in Selling the Dream: How to Promote Your Product, Company, or Ideas — and Make a Difference — Using Everyday Evangelism in 1991. After Apple introduced the Macintosh via an iconic Super Bowl ad in January 1984, “Initially many people condemned Macintosh and Apple as losers,” he wrote. “Macintosh didn’t have software. It was cute and easy to use but flaccid. It was a joke computer from a joke company.” Kawasaki’s job (and that of the evangelists who preceded him) was to popularize the Macintosh. Here’s how he did it:
The software evangelists did more than convince developers to write Macintosh software. They sold the Macintosh Dream. The software developers who bought into the Dream (and only some did) created products that changed Macintosh’s principal weakness — a lack of software — into its greatest strength — the best collection of software for any personal computer.
When IBM attempted to unseat Apple with its PCjr personal computer, IBM failed miserably. According to Kawasaki, IBM failed because it sold a product, whereas Apple “evangelized a dream of improving people’s productivity and creativity.”
Kawasaki is the first to tell you that he did not create the title of marketing evangelist. (The title existed before he joined Apple.) But he certainly defined evangelism through practical application, and in doing so he learned the difference between evangelism and sales. He would later make the distinction this way: “Sales is rooted in what’s good for me. Evangelism is rooted in what’s good for you.” And Apple’s success, rooted in a loyal following among passionate user groups, was a testament to his work.
Kawasaki became a public figure after he started teaching others about the art of evangelism by speaking, and writing best-selling books such as the aforementioned Selling the Dream, in which he put a stake in the ground by defining evangelism in ambitious terms:
Evangelism is the process of convincing people to believe in your product or idea as much as you do. It means selling your dream by using fervor, zeal, guts, and cunning.
He was an early adopter of digital, using his popular blog, How to Change the World, as a launching pad to build a brand via social media.
Throughout his career, Kawasaki has epitomized the role of idea curator. As a founding member of Garage Ventures, he’s seeded start-ups. He launched Alltop, an online newsstand that curates best social media and news on the web. If idea curators are “the new superheros of the Web” in the words of Fast Company, then surely he’s the first of the great superheroes. Here’s how he describes his role in his ebook,What the Plus: Google+ for the Rest of Us:
Bynecessity I became a curator, which means that I find good stuff and point people to it. Curating is a valuable skill because there is an abundance of good content but many people don’t have the time to find it. The best curators find things before anyone else does.
He applies what he calls “the NPR model” when he acts as curator. “My role is to curate good stories that entertain, enlighten, and inspire people 365 days a year,” he writes in a May 13 guest blog post for HubSpot(a post that demonstrates Kawasaki’s astonishing penchant for helping people by sharing valuable information and asking nothing in return). “My goal is to earn the right to promote my books, companies, or causes to them just as NPR earns the right to run fundraising telethons from time to time.”
This is not to say that as a curator, Kawasaki lacks a personal vision. In his book Enchantment, he articulates a clear vision for how marketers can build enduring relationships through our personal values and behavior. As I wrote when I reviewed Enchantment in 2011, Kawasaki wants marketers and entrepreneurs to aspire for something more ambitious: changing the world one person at a time through behavioral attributes such as trustworthiness and likability. In other words, being an evangelist starts with building personal trust and treating other people with respect. Focus on values and the great marketing and communication skills will follow. For instance, communicating with clarity and brevity is not just good marketing but also reflects deeper values of respecting other people and their time.
In Enchantment he writes, “This book is for people who see life for what it can be rather than what it can’t. They are bringing to market a cause – that is, a product, service, organization, or idea – that can make the world a better place. They realize that in a world of mass media, social media, and advertising media, it takes more than instant, shallow, and temporary relationships to get the job done.”
What the Plus is ostensibly an in-depth look at the Google Plus social media platform, and to be sure, the book offers plenty of practical tips about utilizing the social media platform for sharing content, especially through visual storytelling. But when you read What the Plus carefully, you find a manifesto for acting with good behavior in the digital world revealing itself. For instance, repeatedly, Kawasaki urges people to treat their social sites as their homes and respect the sites of others as well.
“Stay positive. Stay uplifting. Or stay silent,” he writes. Don’t act like a troll when you comment on someone else’s social space. And don’t tolerate jerky behavior on yours, either. “Remember: you’re a guest in someone’s home,” he writes. “Show some class.”
Elsewhere he asserts, “Your posts are like your swimming pool. You can do anything that you want. If you don’t like profanity, delete. If you don’t like bigotry, delete. If you don’t like sexism, delete. The goal is building and maintaining an enchanting presence – not exemplifying free speech.”
APE, published in December 2012, is a guide to self-publishing, and as you might expect, the book contains in-depth tips for how to write, edit, design, and market a book. But whereas some pundits might focus on the mechanics of self-publishing and marketing, Kawasaki also discusses the importance of an author’s personal behavior as a factor in helping a book succeed. In a chapter that describes how to build a personal brand, he and co-author Shawn Welch write, “Likeability is the second pillar of a personal brand. Jerks seldom build great brands.”
He goes on to write, “If you want people to like you, you have to like them first. This means accepting people no matter their race, creed, net worth, religion, gender, politics, sexual orientation, or your perception of their level of intelligence. It means not imposing your values on others.”
And true to his role as catalyst, he has launched a Google+ community, APE, for writers to share best practices and ideas for becoming successful publishers and entrepreneurs. So far the APE community has 2,200 members who have agreed to live by the rules of the road: help members learn how to write, publish, and market a book. Promoting your own services and book will earn you a ban from the community.
Kawasaki is like a Trojan Horse: you read his ideas expecting to become a better marketer, and then he slips in thoughtful advice about how to be a better person — typically by sharing and being gracious. He does so with credibility because he links personal likeability and values to successful marketing.
My research into the lives of market makers like Guy Kawasaki reveals that these extraordinary people are willing to take risks, surround themselves with talent, possess passion in abundance, and live full, eclectic lives. Guy Kawasaki definitely exemplifies the trait of surrounding oneself with talent. Consider Enchantment: in each chapter, he invites guest authors to provide their own personal stories of enchanted marketing, which makes his book more collaborative and genuine. Similarly, What the Plus! relies on guest authors for some key chapters.
And according to his HubSpot guest post, he takes the same collaborative approach managing his social spaces. For instance, Peg Fitzpatrick manages his Pinterest page. Why? “There are two reasons,” he writes. “First, I don’t have enough time to do a good job with more than three services (my priority, in order, is Google+, then Twitter, then Facebook). Second, I don’t have Peg’s magic sauce to manage Pinterest as well as the Pinterest community deserves. Part of doing social media well is knowing what you don’t know and what you can’t do well, and then finding someone who does.”
Similarly, Steve Jobs was surrounded by enormous talent, people who became famous in their own right — superstars like John Lasseter at Pixar, Jonathan Ive at Apple, and Guy Kawasaki himself. Atlantic Records succeeded not because of Ahmet Ertegun alone, but because of Ertegun and visionaries like Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Herb Abramson. Anita Roddick might have been the face of the Body Shop, but the brand would not have succeeded without the talents of its anonymous network of franchise operators.
His approach of collaborating with others and inspiring us to become better people is rubbing off on other prominent leaders. Porter Gale, the former CMO of Virgin America and now a thought leader and marketing consultant, embraces the ethos of Enchantment in her new book, Your Network Is Your Net Worth. As I wrote in a May 13 post, Gale’s book argues the case for building networks with other people to enrich the world, not to be a career opportunist.
“A key to unlocking the hidden power of connections is helping others when you don’t expect anything in return,” she writes, using words that would do Kawasaki proud (he contributes a foreword to the book). Your Network Is Your Net Worth, being published on June 4, relies on several examples of successful people who build their happiness quotient — for themselves and for others — by giving.
By celebrating and promoting the talents of those around him, Guy Kawasaki is an evangelist in more ways than one.
If Steve Jobs were alive today, he would be the first to tell you he was not the only person responsible for making Apple succeed. But let’s face it: Steve Jobs defined the Apple brand, a reality that has been underscored lately by grumbling among the pundits that Apple is in danger of losing its swagger and cool (examples hereand here). Maybe Jobs defined Apple too well. But the reason we can’t stop talking about him today is that he transcended the Apple brand and did more than sell products. He was a market maker. I recently introduced the term market makerto describe business people who act like artists and change the world with their personal visions. Successful marketers sell things; but market makers inspire people to act, to believe, and to live their lives differently. Jobs is one of four market makers, including Ahmet Ertegun, Anita Roddick, and Guy Kawasaki, whom I profile in my recently published white paper, How to Be a Market Maker. Jobs influenced entire industries, ranging from consumer products to music. But is he so extraordinary that everyday people cannot relate to his achievements? I think not. I believe we can adopt a little of Steve Jobs at his best by living our lives with passion no matter what we do.
Steve Jobs is the kind of market maker we might call a creator. Creators are directly involved in the development of products and services for a company. Creators have a vision for how the world should work and are bold enough to impose that vision on those around them through the products and services they develop.
By now Jobs’s life is so well known it plays like the plot of a movie we’ve all seen hundreds of times (and, of course, we’ll soon be able to see a real movie about him): his explosive early years at Apple, when his company introduced a new vision for fusing design, user experience, and computing; the exile from Apple, when he founded the revolutionary Pixar Animation; and his glorious second act as CEO of Apple, when the company completely disrupted industries ranging from music to telecommunications by introducing wave upon wave of innovative mobile devices that changed how we consume content.
Throughout his storied career, Jobs, more than anyone, humanized technology. So great was his impact on popular culture, that upon his death, his image graced the covers of publications ranging from The New Yorker to Rolling Stone. Macs came along when personal computers were widely perceived as the province of a nerdy few. Apple did something that still seems astounding: turned an impersonal computing device into something warm and desirable.(My family still owns our clamshell iMac from the late 1990s — even though we don’t use it anymore, we just love having it around because with its sleek cover and aqua green finish, it looks like a piece of art.)
And of course Apple helped disrupt the entire music industry through iTunes and the iPod — liberating music from the limits of analog and empowering consumers to make music part of their mobile lifestyles. As Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Timeswrote, “With Apple’s iTunes and iPod, [Steve Jobs] revived the single, put music libraries in fans’ pockets and posed a challenge to brick-and-mortar record stores and radio.” Record companies, betting on the long-term success of the compact disc, failed to respond to how Apple was helping to turn consumers from album aficionados to snackers of individual digital downloads. The music industry is still trying to catch up.
Jobs’s legacy at Apple is so astonishing that it’s easy to overlook what he accomplished by founding and developing Pixar. Pixar would eventually do far more than create high-quality blockbuster entertainment. Pixar changed movie making. Pixar movies taught Hollywood how to gracefully fuse technology, humanity, and storytelling. The Pixar team created movies that somehow turned animated objects like toy cowboys into fully realized characters injected with humanity.
In doing so, Pixar made it cool for anyone to enjoy a family film: single gay male urbanites, suburban parents, children, teens too self-consciously hip for Bambi — to name but a few demographics. Pixar has touched. Pixar launched animated movies that children can enjoy again as fully-grown adults — and that adults can enjoy for the first time without children in tow. By contrast, even Disney classics like Snow White and Pinocchio are forever remembered as animated family movies that children appreciate the most.
Steve Jobs best exemplifies a trait common to all market marketers: a burning passion. Steve Jobs “put passion into products,” noted James B. Stewart in one of the many heart-felt tributes to Jobs written in the aftermath of his death in 2011. In his acclaimed biography, Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson describes the moment when unveiled iTunes to jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who turned out to be an indifferent audience:
“Watch what it can do!” Jobs kept insisting when Marsalis’s attention would wander. “See how the interface works.” Marsalis later recalled, “I don’t care much about computers, and kept telling him so, but he goes on for two hours. He was a man possessed. After a while, I started looking at him and not the computer, because I was so fascinated with his passion.”
Isaacson also recounts the time Jobs decided to make a major overhaul to the design of the iPhone as the project neared completion, telling designer Jonathan Ive that “‘I didn’t sleep last night because I realized that I just don’t love it’ . . . Ive, to his dismay, instantly realized Jobs was right.”
In fact, Jobs expressed his passion for design in every aspect of his life. He personally supervised the construction of an old-fashioned brick factory-style building for Pixar, and according to Brent Schlender, if the colors of the custom-made bricks were not distributed evenly enough, Jobs made the bricklayers tear apart the bricks and start over. (But those exacting standards also had a down side. When people failed to live up to what he wanted, he could be brutal and insufferable, as you can read in Ben Austin’s Wired August 2012 cover piece, “Do You Really Want to Be Like Steve Jobs?”)
All the market makers profiled in this white paper demonstrate passion.
Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, was passionate about human rights, and, in particular, women’s rights. The entire premise behind the Body Shop was selling cosmetics without sexism and eschewing the cult of youth. Guy Kawasaki is passionate about injecting enchanting values and practices in the work place — and if you’ve ever worked with him, you know he has an equally strong zeal for clear, simple communication. Ahmet Ertegun, co-founder of Atlantic Records, was so passionate about music that he sometimes lived in the studio with the artists on his label.
It doesn’t matter whether you work for a pet food store or write for a living: you can be a market maker by acting with passion.
What do you have on your Spotify playlist right now? Chances are that Ahmet Ertegun had a hand influencing the music you’ve chosen. As founder and president of Atlantic Records, Ertegun signed and nurtured musicians who shaped the sound of modern popular music, ranging from Ray Charles to Led Zeppelin. Ahmet Ertegun is an example of what I call a market maker.I recently introduced the term market makerto describe business people who act like artists and change the world with their personal visions. Successful marketers sell things; but market makers inspire people to act, to believe, and to live their lives differently. And Ahmet Ertegun changed lives. He is one of four market makers, including Steve Jobs, Anita Roddick, and Guy Kawasaki, whom I profile in my white paper, How to Be a Market Maker. Ertegun’s story shows how a willingness to take risks and a personal commitment to the success of other people can launch an industry and create sweet music that endures forever.
Ertegun is a fascination mix of catalyst (someone who inspires by sharing the ideas and talents of others) and product creator (who is directly involved in creation of an idea or content that changes others). He had enough musical talent to write one of the first hits recorded by Ray Charles, “Mess Around,” which was important to the development of modern soul, and he was in the studio singing and helping to produce the song “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” an enormously important song that helped launch modern rock. But he himself understood that his real talent was not being a musician but finding and developing them.
The son of the Republic of Turkey’s first ambassador to the United States, Ertegun developed a passion for jazz early on, assembling a huge collection of jazz records and traveling to Harlem and New Orleans (something sons of ambassadors in the 1940s just did not do) to find musicians he discovered on wax. In 1947, he founded Atlantic Records with Herb Abramson. He had zero business experience but possessed passion and determination to uncover great music. Robert Greenfield’s eminently readable biography of Ertegun, The Last Sultan, recounts how in the early days of Atlantic Records, Ertegun and his business partner borrowed a car and crisscrossed the “crowded, smoke-filled juke joints and roadside honky-tonks in the Deep South where the smell of spilled whiskey and beer and the overwhelming funk of sweating bodies on the dance floor made it hard even to breathe.” They trudged through muddy fields to segregated sections of town to uncover musicians like Blind Willie McTell, Professor Longhair, and Ruth Brown. They developed a network of scouts in clubs and concert halls in major cities, too.
One of his artists was Ray Charles, who, under Ertegun’s tutelage in 1953, launched the genre of music we now know as soul through his song, “I Got a Woman.” During that pivotal year, Ertegun and Jerry Wexler helped an artist named Big Joe Turner cut a song, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” that is generally regarded as the precursor of rock.
Writes Greenfield, “In the short space of six months, Atlantic had released two songs that would define the future of the record business in America. ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ helped begin rock and roll. ‘I Got a Woman’ established soul.” Atlantic, under Ertegun’s leadership, played a phenomenal role in desegregating American popular music.
Throughout his career, Ertegun would have an active hand in developing and promoting the careers of musical giants across several genres. In the 1970s, Atlantic rescued the Rolling Stones from the brink of financial bankruptcy and elevated the band to mainstream cultural icons.
His personal commitment to Led Zeppelin — not only signing them to Atlantic but hanging out with the band all night amid post-concert backstage debauchery — helped propel a band that dominated and influenced modern hard rock.
When he died after tripping and hitting his head backstage at a Rolling Stones concert in 2006, his loss was so widely felt in the music world that Led Zeppelin eventually reunited after 25 years to play a concert in his honor.
Ahmet Ertegun’s greatest gift to music was his eye for talent and the will to mold that talent into wildly popular music that broke through different genres. He and legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler “could hear the talent in its rawest form before even the talent knew what it wanted to do.” But he did more than find talent — he shaped it. He played the music of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey for Ruth Brown to teach her blues and develop her singing style. He actively collaborated with Ray Charles in the studio in 1953 and pushed him until Charles found his break-through with “I Got a Woman.”
An important distinction needs to be made: he was not a tastemaker or molder of talent just because he loved music and he wanted to make a ton of money (although music and the creature comforts that come with wealth were important to him): he loved his artists. As Neil Young said at a tribute to Ertegun held in 2007: “Ahmet was our man. I just hope today’s musicians have someone like Ahmet taking care of them.”
Ahmet Ertegun was a market maker in the truest sense of the word. He was also a risk taker — and a willingness to take risks is a major attribute of market makers. Market makers are willing to try and fail. Founding a pop record company in the 1940s was in fact an enormous risk: there were no rules, no best practices, and no mentors from whom to learn. When Ertegun and his business partners attempted to get the business off the ground in its early days, Ertegun nearly went broke, and Atlantic nearly went out of business. And we all know about the risks that another market maker, Steve Jobs, took (not all of which worked, such as the NeXT). The Body Shop had no reason to succeed: Anita Roddick had zero business experience and was taking on a well-entrenched industry. Guy Kawasaki left the comforts of Apple to essentially create his own brand. Their willingness to risk reflects their ability to dream.
You don’t need to introduce the next Led Zeppelin or launch another iPod to be a market maker. You just need to have the willingness to instill your personal imprint on your everyday job and emulate the characteristics of market makers, such as risk taking. In future blog posts, my profiles of other market makers will illustrate more of those characteristics.
Steve Jobs is like the Beatles: we admire them, but how many of marketers believe we can change the world like they did? Well, my newly published white paper, How to Be a Market Maker, shows you how you can inject the spirit of great leaders like Steve Jobs into your everyday life. How to Be a Market Maker assets that you don’t need to unleash another iPad to change the world. By instilling your personal imprint on your everyday job (as artists do), you can go beyond selling things to influence how other people act, think, and believe. How to Be a Market Maker uses a storytelling approach to bring to life the attributes of market makers such as Jobs, Body Shop Founder Anita Roddick, Alltop founder Guy Kawasaki, and Atlantic Records Founder Ahmet Ertegun. Periodically I’ll blog about some of the ideas in How to Be a Market Maker. In addition, Fast Company has published an excerpt here. Meantime, I hope you read the PoV and let me know what you think of it.
Where were you when Steve Jobs died, and how did you hear the news?
I was snacking on pot stickers with my family at my sister-in-law’s apartment last night when I noticed my Facebook status feed exploding with reports about the death of Steve Jobs — news reported by citizen journalists like you and me. For me, the flood of information began with a simple “RIP Steve Jobs” from my iCrossing colleague Kristen Deye (which I read on my Apple iPhone), followed quickly by an overwhelming number of hastily written tributes and some occasional “iSads” status updates from many other Facebook friends.
Within seconds, my friend John Hensler and I were texting each other personal reactions on our iPhones. Ironically, hours earlier, John and I had collaborated on a blog post about why we were not upgrading to the iPhone 4S — and ours was just one post amid a flurry of commentary that is inevitable when Apple, the world’s most powerful news maker, has something to share.
As an afterthought, I checked CNN’s coverage of his death, but I was more interested in the raw, real-time outpouring of emotion from everyday people — friends like Andrea Harrison, who wrote on her Facebook wall, “We lost a visionary tonight”; Roger Wong, who blogged about how Steve Jobs changed his life, Lisa M. Blacker, who (like many others) posted a YouTube video of a Stanford commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs in 2005; or Sam Decker, who shared on Facebook a photo of the desk Sam used on his first job out of college — a desk littered with Apple equipment.
As my friend Augie Ray wrote on his Facebook wall, “It’s really kind of touching to see virtually every tweet and post be about Steve Jobs. True influence isn’t measured in Twitter followers.”
Later that evening, iCrossing CEO Don Scales sent a heart-felt email to all employees discussing his reaction to Steve Jobs’s passing away, and he also tweeted, “What an amazing person. Steve Jobs. No one is worthy. No one.” I read Don’s communiqué (as well as a blog post by Seth Godin) on my work-supplied Apple MacBook Pro while my daughter sat next to me writing a short story on her MacBook and listened to music on her iPod Shuffle.
We can’t all be visionaries like Steve Jobs was. But we can create great experiences for other people as he did. The company that Steve Jobs turned into one of the greatest brands in history is embedded in my home and work life (as it probably is for you or someone you know) because Apple puts people first. I want to remember Steve Jobs by putting people first.
Meantime, it will be interesting to see how the brand that was embodied by Steve Jobs evolves without him.
So where were you when Steve Jobs died?
Note: you can share your own thoughts about Steve Jobs by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where is the Apple brand headed in the aftermath of Steve Jobs’s resignation as CEO?
It’s a significant question for one of the world’s most valuable companies (depending on the daily ups and downs of the stock market.) Steve Jobs is more than the face of the Apple brand — he is the Apple brand. The company has willingly benefitted from the strength of his own reputation, which makes it all the more difficult to build a brand without him.