I heard the news that Steve Jobs had died fittingly in a text from my 12-year-old daughter while sitting at a dinner last night. Moments later, she updated her Facebook status from her smartphone in tribute.
She hadn’t even been born by the time Jobs was fired from Apple…not even when he returned to the company in 1997. Yet he has probably had a bigger influence on her life than most anyone who isn’t related to her or in school with her. And she knows it.
That’s because Steve Jobs was more than a CEO of a wildly successful company. In many ways, he invented relevance – the idea that you must matter more to your consumers and create connections that run deeper than just a one-way conversation. Before it was the norm for companies to spend millions on campaigns trying to humanize their brand, Apple was truly the first human brand out there, creating not just the technology but the lifestyle that defined an entire generation.
Jobs understood really before anyone else that the best way for companies to gain loyal customer following was by building great products that made their lives better. Now we hear it all the time…doing well by doing good…Jobs and Apple showed that this model worked.
The intimacy he built among Apple’s customers in the process is evident in the outpouring of emotions over social media since his passing, to a level once reserved for world leaders or celebrities, not CEOs.
What made him such a hero wasn’t just great products or an iconic company, but his story. It was that story that resonates with multiple generations…a story of good ideas, raw talent, failure, and perseverance. Everyone can see something of themselves in Jobs’ story– and it made us want Jobs and by extension Apple to succeed.
No one could tell that story better than Jobs himself. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the commencement address he gave at Stanford in 2005, which really showcases his storytelling abilities.
That story won’t end with his death. It will continue with every text my daughter sends, every Facebook status, every tweet…Jobs gave us the technology to write a better story for ourselves, and that’s a legacy worth leaving.