Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How Steve Jobs Changed my Life

How Steve Jobs Changed My Life

It was 1980 and I had just finished my undergraduate work. I was working at Polaroid in Cambridge, Massachusetts focused on building forecasting models for future demand and distribution of new products. Geeky stuff with powerful mainframes.

I walked down to the news shop in the lobby one day, and there was a photo of Steve Jobs on a magazine, not more than a few years older than. He was a “maverick” with suspenders and blue jeans and founded this company called Apple. Within months I purchased my first Apple computer, dropped out of my masters program in software engineering, and by 1982 I shifted from building mainframe software for Fortune 500 corporations to co-founding a software company building personal computer software. Leaving the safety of the corporate world, during a period when a hot software engineers could “flip” jobs at 30%+ increase in pay every year.

I decided to go follow a dream. Steve Jobs was the inspiration. By 1984, I was living in Palo Alto, California and struggling hard to make a small fledging software company work. By 1985 we had 35 employees and in my mid-20’s I was the president of our company then located in Emeryville, adjacent to Berkeley, California. Dreams happened in California. Especially if you were from the Northeast.

Time went on, and we eventually sold the software company, and I returned to graduate school back east. To my surprise, after my MBA, I tried to get another software company off the ground. While it was not a big commercial success, it led my life down a rewarding path.

Steve's passion, his “maverick” spirit, his genius was inspirational. He helped bring people over the edge to their “risk on” game. He had such deep faith in a vision.

Yes, we like all the apple products and are in awe of their marketing and sales skills. The "think different" campaign was just stunning. But to me, the person and the ability to reshape the world