It's the familiar cycle. Steve Jobs has done it again. He's proven that he can deliver on innovation, style and design to create a shining example of form and function. He's proven that he is both a masterful communicator and marketer—he's compelling if not hypnotizing. There are droves of us flocking to drive these points home—dissecting his delivery, his message, his style, his persona, his charisma.
Here's some food for thought in the spirit of "Think Different".
Nearly a year ago to the date, Wired reporter Leander Kahney penned this article with a comparison of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. It's worth a read—here are a few highlights:
"Until recently, Bill Gates has been viewed as the villain of the tech world, while his archrival, Steve Jobs, enjoys an almost saintly reputation.
Gates is the cutthroat capitalist. A genius maybe, but one more interested in maximizing profits than perfecting technology. He's the ultimate vengeful nerd. Ostracized at school, he gets the last laugh by bleeding us all dry.
On the other hand, Jobs has never seemed much concerned with business, though he's been very successful at it of late. Instead, Jobs has been portrayed as a man of art and culture. He's an aesthete, an artist; driven to make a dent in the universe.
But these perceptions are wrong. In fact, the reality is reversed. It's Gates who's making a dent in the universe, and Jobs who's taking on the role of single-minded capitalist, seemingly oblivious to the broader needs of society."
"...According to Forbes, Jobs was recently worth $3.3 billion which puts him among the 194th richest in the world, and makes him the 67th richest American. But the standings were shuffled on Tuesday with Disney's $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar Animation -- a deal that makes Jobs' Pixar holdings alone worth some $3.7 billion.
But great wealth does not make a great man.
Giving USA Foundation, a philanthropy research group which publishes an annual charity survey, said Jobs does not appear on lists of gifts of $5 million or more over the last four years. Nor is his name on a list of gifts of $1 million or more compiled by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy."
I'm not writing this post to judge, condemn or exalt one of these great men over the other—both have made huge contributions and are worthy of tremendous respect. And truth be told, I use a Mac and admire the Apple brand. But sometimes thinking different means looking at things from multiple perspectives. Not accepting what we see at face value and digging a little deeper.
Also, thinking different theoretically leads to living different. Whether you admire Microsoft or have disdain for it, Bill Gates is living a very distinct lifestyle as he continues to give so much of what he has away to a variety of humanitarian causes. This quality of his life transcends his presentation style and/or business legacy.
"In the same way, I admire Bono over Mick Jagger, and John Lennon over Elvis, because they spoke up about things bigger than their own celebrity."
This is how Kahney ends his article—it's an interesting take on the different styles of cultural icons. I'll admit that I'm more of a Stones fan than a U2 fan. The Stones have a legacy of music through the years that I admire, relate to and enjoy. I especially appreciate albums like Exile On Main Street. But ask me if I would rather be like Mick Jagger or Bono and hands down I would tell you Bono. As I've watched Bono through the years, I am convinced that he's the real deal and leads a positive life—a life worth examining.
Just a little food for thought as we clamor to admire the handy work of Mr. Jobs. It's understandable. The Man is brilliant, as is the brand that he has built from scratch and re-built with hard work and conviction. And he's probably got a good heart too—(I have no idea either way, though I was moved and inspired by his "Stay Foolish" speech).
But examining both sides of the same coin is always worth doing so as we come to our conclusions. And maybe "thinking differently" is the best way that we can honor the innovative spirit that Steve Jobs has helped pioneer. In a way, I'm exercising that very thing in this post. So think different, and live different—because after all, we're all individuals. And today is a great day to celebrate that fact.