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October 5th, 2011

Jobs: Nunc ad astra

Published on October 5th, 2011 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Me:

Ran into my first Macintosh in a store and thought what it could do in Draw was mesmerizing.

Bought my first Mac in ’85 to while away the time while convalescing. My three- and seven-year-old daughters (at the time) got the knack of the mouse and drawing paradigms in about 2 hours.

Printed my first pixelated flyers on a dot-matrix and learned database logic in FileMaker in ’86.

Started printing newsletters in PageMaker in ’87.

Got my first laser printer and learned to write Postscript in ’88, looking over the shoulders of the great folks at Dwight Yaeger Typographers (RIP). Later that year I published my first desktop-published (except for photos) magazine.

Then there was Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, Mac Plus, Mac SE, Mac II, PowerBook 170, Power Macs, color laser printers, iPods, iPhones, yadda, yadda, yadda.

My last 26 years have been intertwined with Apple technology. I get that for younger people, Steve Jobs is connected with iPods, iPhones and iPads, but for many of us older folks these breakthroughs were … amazing! So, some of his being is lost to the years and, the news coverage leaves a situation where “the description is not the described.” Oh, well.

For a short, thoughtful and insightful view of how Jobs inspired, I urge the reading of Guy Kawasaki’s 1990 The Macintosh Way, that has a table of contents that sounds like the current curricula for good MBA programs.

Although Jobs was criticized for being a micromanager, my sense this was overstated. By the accounts I’ve read, it sound like he used a management style sometimes described as “squatting at a point,” a technique where a leader identifies a key problem or test or breakthrough experience and focuses his or her attention there for an extended period. It probably feels like and probably is micromanagement if you are one of those workers also focused on the same “point.”

But Jobs was more than insights, unique management ideas and risk taking. He had the je ne sais quoi to get projects timed correctly and finished. And even when he failed, he plowed up so much new ground along the way that the next triumph would always be around the next corner. During his time, he was pretty close to the subtle Dharma gate.


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