Steve Jobs – a lifetime of inspiration

It was Jan 2005, Hrishi and I had moved into our Pacifica house together, first few months of living together ever. One of the first purchases was to get a personal laptop for me (first with my own money) and after weeks of research I had settled on Apple MacBook, which gave me the same specs as a Wintel machine for $300 extra and a promise for better computing experience. Hrishi and I had many, many arguments for-against Apple in those weeks. I was seriously questioning if I had made the right decision marrying him, if we could not even agree on a computer.

After using the computer for a few months, I realized I liked it more than Dell, Thinkpad or any desktop I had used. So decided to buy their shares at ~$50. Continued to buy in small batches for the next year. It’s perhaps the only stock I have made money on. Hrishi has been bugging me to sell them off for last 2-3 years, but my standard response has been ‘Not till Steve Jobs is around’.

The last week, since his death, has been surprisingly teary for me. Feels like an overwhelming loss. Turns out millions of people around the world are surprised by similar feelings. I am not going to attempt to eulogize him. Many words have been written, which perhaps capture his genius better than I ever could. (Onion’s summary was a fav – “Last guy in US who knew what the fuck he was doing”).

But keeping it in the context of my life, in 2001 an guy approached me while I was working on an oil rig in Assam – and asked if Indira Gandhi was my role model. (He had never seen a woman on the oil field, and thought I must be inspired by someone great). I said ‘no’ – but the question stayed with me. “Who is my role model, do I need one, what can I learn?”…

Through IIT and early professional years, I didn’t find anybody that was particularly inspiring. Then I started following Steve Jobs in the last 5 years. Once I read about his work and philosophy – it was easier to answer the ‘role model’ question.
(Although sometimes I wished with his skills, he would take on the difficult social problems as well, and some of his inter-personal skills might not be most noteworthy)

More than the i-stuff, what will continue to inspire me are his authenticity, clarity of thought, guts, focus, visualizing the intersections – of industries, of human psychology with technology, and then ‘making it happen’ like crazy.

The above is a tall package for most people to be or become. I doubt if I’ll see someone like him in my lifetime. It was my privilege to see the show live and would love to share his stories as Hridyan grows older. He was fortunate to have received all the love in his lifetime. But I wish everyday, I could continue to see the magic…..

RIP and thank you, Steve.

For the rest of us, let’s “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

PS: some photos from outside his house in Palo Alto, CA


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