October 6, 2011
You’ve undoubtedly heard by now that Steve Jobs passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer; it’s been all over the news with wall-to-wall coverage, and iCandle vigils have sprung up all over the world. Jobs is being remembered as a pioneer, a technological revolutionary, a visionary. Rightfully so.
But it’s important to give credit where credit is due, and the world owes a tremendous debt to Steve Jobs for something else. He was perhaps the greatest living example of ‘philanthropy’ in action.
While people like Warren Buffet are pleading with the government to raise their taxes and give away their wealth to sycophantic bureaucrats, Jobs showed time and time again that the best way to improve people’s lives is to create value and be productive.
Steve Jobs was one of the most productive human beings to have ever lived; he started several successful companies which directly employed tens of thousands of people. Indirectly, his businesses improved the livelihoods of millions across the globe, from Chinese factory workers to iPhone app programmers to Apple shareholders.
In building an empire and unimaginable wealth for himself, Steve Jobs enriched the lives and livelihoods of others by creating value. Not by forced redistribution. Not by giving things away. By creating value.
Ironically, just as I write this I am watching President Obama on Bloomberg Television trying to explain how many jobs his new plan will create– 1.9 million in his estimate:
“We’re just going to keep on going at it and hammering away… until… something gets done. I would love to see nothing more than Congres act… so aggressively.”
Politicians would do themselves and their constituents a great service by comparing their own track record for enriching people’s lives against Steve Jobs’ performance, and then kindly stepping out of the way. The path to prosperity is not paved in votes, but rather in freedom: the freedom to create, produce, risk work hard… and be rewarded for your efforts.
If you have the time, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes and read some of Jobs’ own words; there are boundless sources online that will praise his creativity, drive, and intellect, but perhaps no one is better suited to explain Steve Jobs than the man himself.
Jobs on -not- following the crowd:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma– which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Jobs on change and politics:
“We’re making the largest investment of capital that humankind has ever made in weapons over the next five years. We have decided, as a society, that that’s where we should put our money, and that raises the deficits and, thus, the cost of our capital.”
“I think it takes a crisis for something to occur in America. And I believe there’s going to be a crisis of significant proportions in the early Nineties as these problems our political leaders should have been addressing boil up to the surface.”
Jobs on charity… and the importance of failure:
“And that’s the problem with most philanthropy– there’s no measurement system. You give somebody some money to do something and most of the time you can really never measure whether you failed or succeeded in your judgment of that person or his ideas or their implementation. So if you can’t succeed or fail, it’s really hard to get better.”
Jobs on careers:
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. . . As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. . . So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
Jobs on making it count:
Most of the time, we’re taking things. Neither you nor I made the clothes we wear; we don’t make the food or grow the foods we eat; we use a language that was developed by other people; we use another society’s mathematics. Very rarely do we get a chance to put something back into that pool. I think we have that opportunity now. And no, we don’t know where it will lead. We just know there’s something much bigger than any of us here.
Jobs on [the blue screen of] death:
“[D]eath is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
Well done, Mr. Jobs. Be thou at peace.