My Critic, Steve Jobs

I have sometimes been a critic of Steve Jobs: for outsourcing manufacturing, overlooking charities, diverting idealistssidestepping the web or simply demanding the best.

But long before that, Steve Jobs was a critic of me. I hear him whenever I do something mediocre or make a business decision that has no soul. I hear him whenever I wonder if my life’s work has really been worthwhile.

He made all of us believe we could be artists. He convinced us that ideas and craftsmanship are important. He said building a company is better than selling one. We wanted to be a part of something, and he wanted it to stand apart. He insisted that labor must be love, and that love comes before money.

I still remember exactly where I was, standing in a Dolores Street apartment with a cereal bowl in my hand, when he came on TV to say a competitor had no poetry. It made me think poetry had a place in business and that in turn made me think I had a place in business, too.

But beyond sharing his ideals, I have had to come to the disconcerting, depressing realization that I have very little in common with Steve Jobs. No one can hope to have his design instinct, vision and charisma. I long ago had to give up on growing up to be like him.

And now I even have to stop wondering what Steve Jobs will come up with next, as he has left his public life as CEO of Apple.

But his voice hasn’t left me. It says yes when the world says no. It says to make things as I want them to be. It says keep trying. And that is what, at last, I have to say to him: keep trying, Steve, keep trying.

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