Friday, October 14, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs

I was lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and work with Steve Jobs when I was an analyst on Wall Street covering the PC industry.  Mine was a lone voice arguing that Apple could recover from its "beleaguered" state prior to Apple's acquisition of NeXT. Steve's return with that acquisition added an ironic dimension that evolved into one of the great corporate turnarounds in history.

While I had engaged him from a distance through Apple investor relations and conference calls, my first one-on-one meeting with Steve came just after Apple had reported its first profitable quarter since his return. Apple had scheduled an analysts meeting in Cupertino, and all of us dutifully shuttled out to hear what Apple management had to tell us about the company's plans for the future.

When I was introduced to Steve, he recognized me from my public efforts on Apple's behalf, and thanked me for my support during Apple's tough times. Those of you who know me can imagine my response. Figuring I might never get the chance again, I told Steve, "Thanks for not f**king it up."
My host wilted. 
Steve grinned.

Shortly after, Apple included a quote from me in a press release announcing its advertising strategy for the iMac. This was one of the only times a non-Apple voice was included in an Apple corporate release, and I'm sure it would not have happened without Steve's approval. While many have described Steve's darker side, many of us can cite examples of gracious behavior like this.

I remember vividly Steve's personal demonstration to me of Mac OS X prior to its announcement, and his focused energy directed at convincing me that the "lickable" new Aqua interface was the greatest thing in the world. Many have seen Steve live on stage or in a video announcing new products; I can only say that it was even more impressive up close, and I enjoyed all my professional interactions with him throughout my tenure on the Street.

When I heard of his passing, my immediate thought was:
Talent hits a target no one else can hit;
Genius hits a target no one else can see.
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
Schopenhauer didn't live to see Steve Jobs, but maybe he predicted him.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Remembering My Dad

My father died yesterday.  It wasn't a complete shock - 20 years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and treated with then-new therapies that bought him more time than anyone expected.  He used that time well.  This year, cancer returned in a much more aggressive mode and won its battle for dad's body.  His family was fortunate to be with him in his last days to say goodbye.

My mom, brothers and sister filled dad's hospital room with stories and laughter to the point where nurses were poking their heads in to see the party — and we encouraged visitors to add their voices to the conversation.  Over the course of many days, I was reminded that my siblings each had a unique relationship with dad, but all of those relationships were based on the same values we learned by repeated example:  curiosity, integrity, loyalty, uncompromising excellence and love.

Dad's varied accomplishments in life derived from his unwavering adherence to those values.  They enabled him to become an outstanding competitor, leader, craftsman, husband, father and grandfather.  My mother's expressions of love and loss for her partner of 57 years were an equally compelling commentary on the meaning of marriage.

I loved my dad.  I miss his presence already, and will remember his lessons forever.