Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on October 6th, 2011

Thank you, Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs' final portrait

I'm going to miss Steve Jobs.

I did not know him personally.

I worked at Apple three times in my early career as a student, again as an intern, and finally as an Apple "agent" for higher education helping to launch the iMac across N. Texas and Oklahoma. Our tenures at Apple did not overlap much and I never got to meet Steve but he was present, even when he wasn't there. His photo hung on the wall in Apple's Dallas briefing center, he was invoked in quiet whispers among the faithful when the Apple leadership made bonehead moves, and his return was seen by long-time employees as nothing short of salvation for a company that had lost much of its creative spirit.

Steve Jobs holding the original iPhoneThat presence influenced me. Steve was unmatched in his ability to hold a room in thrall as he launched Apple's latest product. Don't let anyone convince you that he was a "pitchman" for Apple. He never "pitched" anything to anybody. He simply explained how the world worked, how it should work, and how his latest invention might change the world if you would let it. Any selling he might do was simply a natural progression of explaining, educating, and simplifying.

That's his legacy to me.

Steve Jobs is the person I've tried to emulate the most as an entrepreneur. Deliver high value, simplify difficult ideas, and, when you speak, engage, educate, and enthrall. He inspired me to become the best possible version of myself; to not accept less than the best in myself and others; to believe in myself and my ability; to follow my intuition and my gut; to "stay hungry, stay foolish".

Some are asking what might have been if Steve Jobs had lived for 30 more years. If you look at the timeline of the last 10 years of his life, he was diagnosed with cancer 3 years before the iPhone launched. Terminal care nurses almost unanimously agree that cancer is the most painful way to die but also the best way because it gives the patient time to right the wrongs, heal the hurts, and say goodbye. For Steve, cancer inspired him to move as quickly as possible to bring his vision to the world.

Remember that the iPhone was an absolutely revolutionary product. It would have been much easier to wait even a couple more years for the components and memory to get a little better, a little smaller. But that wasn't enough for a man who had seen his own demise; even as he battled cancer's lingering effects, he accelerated development, demanded more from Apple suppliers, and magicked the iPhone into existence.

You see, it's not in spite of pancreatic cancer that he was able to do so much - it's because Steve Jobs had seen his own death, faced it, and said not yet…I have one last gift to give.


Steve Jobs launches the iPhone.

That last gift to the world and it's successor in the iPad is his legacy to us all. Never before has an invention looked so much like the inventor: the iPhone's clean lines, beautiful interface, and frank utility hides complex and powerful underpinnings. It not only does the impossible, it makes it look easy and obvious.

Just like Steve Jobs.

We are significantly better for his having been here.

We are diminished for his passing.

Thank you, Steve, for leaving the world a better place than you found it.