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Remembering America’s Chief Innovator

Posted by on October 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm

It’s hard to add to what has already been said from so many corners of the globe about the enormous contributions of Steven Paul Jobs to the fields of technology, movies, music, telecommunications, and design itself. But I do feel compelled to say something about Mr. Jobs. We just lost our country’s Chief Innovator.

Steve Jobs was a once-in-a-generation visionary who demonstrated a unique blend of design, business, and marketing savvy. He took a quirky, irrelevant computer company named after a fruit, which he co-founded in the 1970s, and turned it into a global business powerhouse boasting the largest market cap of any other company on the planet  – equaled only by Exxon Mobil.

The last decade, in particular, has been truly impressive as Jobs led Apple as it redefined the music industry via the iPod, wireless communication via the iPhone, and more recently, the computer itself via the iPad.

Jobs didn’t always get it right. In 1985, after being fired by Apple, he started the NeXT computer company. NeXT folded in 1996 after shipping only 50,000 units, but its high performance personal computers impressed many, including Apple, which re-hired Jobs in 1997.

Most important, Jobs learned from his mistakes and he wasn’t afraid to make them. At every turn in his career, he ignored traditional business school dogma, and chose to take a different path – always guided by what he felt the consumer wanted.

Jobs concluded that consumers would be willing to pay more for a product if it was well-designed and simple to use.  He was right, and Apple and its shareholders have benefited handsomely.

Business schools will be studying the “Jobs Effect” and his hyper-successful business methods for years to come, and rightfully so.

At some point, there will be another Steve Jobs. He or she will also achieve success by eschewing the safe path. And most likely, he or she too will succeed as a result of a keen focus on innovation, smart design, and creative business approaches.