Just like there will be never another William Shakespeare, Socrates, Winston Churchill or George Washington, there will be never another Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was the CEO and Chairman of Apple Computers Incorporation and was considered to be one of the most successful businessmen in the world. He was considered the Most Powerful Person in Business by Fortune Magazine in 2007. He was honored with the National Medal of Technology in 1985 and Samuel S. Beard Award in 1987. He wanted “to put a ding in the universe” and he succeeded to do it (Isaacson). His achievements overturned the world of modern technologies.
The secret of Steve Jobs’ popularity lies in his background and life experience. According to the American mythologist Joseph Campbell’s “monomyth idea”, a potential hero should go through three major choices. Firstly, he must leave his familiar world, secondly, he should win immensely powerful forces and thirdly he should return to his home and share his experience. Steve Jobs undertook all three stages in his life which helped him to become a hero of his century (Isaacson).
Having grown up in the apricot orchards of what’s now called Silicon Valley, the teenage Jobs left his home for India where he experimented with new ideas including Zen Buddhism. Jobs didn’t win the physical demons in India as in Campbell’s monomyth but he struggled with his personal ones.
He came to India being 18-yeared old with his friend Dan Kottke quitting their study at Reed College in Portland. Having dropped out of college he earned money by returning Coke bottles and eating at a local Hare Krishna Temple where a weekly free meal was organized to help poor people. It was the most difficult time in his life when he fought for survival. He described that period of life: “I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it” (Isaacson).
Perhaps, these difficult living conditions formulated such a strong and persistent person. Why did he decide to go to India? There was a supposition that that weekly free meal at the Hare Krishna temple attracted him to this country. According to another version which is observed in his unofficial biography, he was disappointed when he found out that he was adopted and he wanted to find his roots in India. He wore loose-fitting Indian clothes and shaved his head practicing Buddhism and he even tried some psychedelic substances. He was looking for enlightenment in this sacred country. This experience was very useful for his career. He said: “The main thing I’ve learned is intuition, that the people in India are not just pure rational thinkers, that the great spiritual ones also have an intuition” (Isaacson).
Steve Jobs was in India between 1974 and 1976 traveling across North India and looking for the answers to the eternal questions of science and philosophy. After such a great experience in his life, he decided to return to his country and share his ideas concerning the value of modern technologies in human relationships.
More than that, life in India allowed him to make a conclusion: “We weren’t going to find a place where we could go for a month to be enlightened. It was one of the first times that I started to realize that maybe Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Kairolie Baba put together.” He realized that only deeds could change our life. You help other people more than philosophers and writers when you do something. Returning back to America as a Buddhist with a shaved head, he came into play. His faith in human intelligence and technologies took roots in India. The meeting with a great mystic of that era, Neem Karoli Baba, changed his perception of life. Perhaps, the Indian experience was a crucial point in his life that formulated him as he was.
Jobs carried all his life this Indian baggage. India both injured and cured Jobs’ life. His best friend, Dan Kottke describes Steve Jobs at a young age: “I would say he was not remarkable in any particular way but a very thoughtful young man with a wide-open, inquiring mind and a good sense for adventure, and a good sense of humor. He had a passion for ideas that paralleled my own and led to many long discussions about the nature of reality and consciousness. The quality that had the most appeal for him was ‘clarity’… which I think he got from Suzuki Roshi (Zen Mind/Beginner’s Mind)” (Isaacson).
He founded Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak in the early 1970s with the investment of $1300 but it was very difficult to convince people that the computer is an integral part of their life and they should have a computer at home. Jobs had a vision of how a computer could be a personally useful tool that allowed people to communicate with each other at long distances (Young and Simon).
India sojourn wasn’t his last experience to struggle with dragons. He was fired from Apple because of some disagreements concerning the Macintosh personal computer. Later, he worked for a new company, NeXT for a couple of months and returned to Apple taking ‘iCEO” position in 1996. Jobs also had experience working for Pixar before it became the world’s preeminent computer-animated film company (Young and Simon).
Although Jobs had a lot of disappointments and failures in his life, he succeeded in realizing his idea of the accessibility of the computer in every house. He made people believe that they needed computers. Since that time he overturned the world of the computer industry with such his creations as the MacBook, the iPhone and the iPod.
Steve Jobs made Apple Computers Incorporation an influential world company that dictates the fashion in the computer industry. According to the LA Times, “the market value of Apple’s shares has grown from about $US5 billion in 2000 to $US351 billion today making it one of the biggest publicly listed companies in the US, up there with the likes of Exxon Mobil” (Mclnerney). Was India experience the steel which helped him to survive being fired from the company he founded and have the courage to return and persistence to continue realizing his ideas? There are a lot of versions concerning the influence of India on Jobs’ life.
What are the main secrets of his success as a leader? He followed two basic rules in his life: persistence is the key and innovation brings leadership (Young and Simon). Steve Jobs never gave up despite his failures. Setbacks are integral parts of life and your success depends on the ability not to give up and be persistent. The secret of the leadership of Apple Computers Incorporation at the world market is their innovations. A successful leadership always has a lot of new ideas and initiatives. Steve Jobs always realized his new ideas and he was able to predict the demands and interests of the customers. He said: “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new”. Steve Jobs was considered to be a futurist demonstrating his ability to predict the future in a real-life business setting (Mclnerney). The high quality and modern design of his technologies attract customers from around the whole world. He followed this principle in his work: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”.
Unlike other successful businesspeople Jobs never found it important to make a show of his civic and philanthropic works. Apple didn’t match employees’ charitable under his leadership and never attached its name to nonprofit efforts. He didn’t make anybody make contributions. Jobs thought that charity must be free or it was not charity at all.
He shared his secret of life with the future generations: “When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up of people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
There were a lot of factors that formulated such a perfection-obsessed, titanic and ruthless personality that achieved such great success in modern technology. Of course, his experience in India played a crucial role and his poor childhood when he was taught to struggle for survival and work his tail off formulated such a great person as he was. Jobs left his position of Chairman of the company for medical reasons suffering from pancreatic cancer that became the reason for his death in October 2011. But his innovations continue to enjoy people all over the world. The name of Steve Jobs has become immortal and he will always inspire a lot of scientists with his great achievements.
Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. USA: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.
Mclnerney, Sarah. “Steve Jobs: an Unconventional Leader”. Executive Style, 2011.
Young, Jeffrey and Simon, William. ICON Steve Jobs: The Greatest Act in the History of Business. USA: Wiley, 2005. Print.