When I heard Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, I knew that we, like Apple, were the poorer for it. Sure, Apple stock went down, but that’s not the reason. And our image as global tech leader took a hit, but that’s secondary. What hurts most was that we lost a winner—and we’ve none to spare.
Jobs took on IBM in the 1970’s with a high school degree and a Buddhist haircut. Although the silent majority and flower children were locked in a death grip, from that maelstrom emerged an unlikely counterculture of entrepreneurs for whom “winner” was still not a bad word. Steve Jobs was their king.
In 1983 when Apple needed a new CEO, Jobs challenged the President of Pepsi-Cola with, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” He got his man.
When Vince Lombardi said “Winning isn’t everything…it’s the only thing” he took some heat for being insensitive to his players. So did Jobs. Still, when it comes to football coaches and CEO’s we don’t remember the ones with losing records.
I miss guys like that. You love to hate them, but when the chips are down you want to be on their team. Ask General Patton’s soldiers.
Somewhere along the line winners fell out of favor. We became more concerned with the process than the results. Equality of everything, for everybody, every day became our mantra. We lost our edge.
When you can’t fire someone for doing a rotten job without paying them to go away, something’s wrong. When you can’t ask someone to stay late without worrying about an EEOC claim, something’s wrong.
Lombardi, Patton, and Jobs weren’t perfect, far from it. They pushed their teams to the limit, and sometimes beyond. But, no one complained.
We’ll miss Steve Jobs. Without his kind, everyone is just equal.
Malcolm D. Gibson
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