Thursday, April 01, 2010

Apple, Mindshare and Passion

It has become almost a cliche to say that Apple has a lock on mindshare unparalleled among technology companies. It is still 48 hours away for customers to buy iPads but the excitement and anticipation is reminiscent of the Harry Potter books. Can any other company equal this?

The iPad may not solve global warming and world hunger but you will be hard-pressed to convince the aficionados. Besides games and entertainment, the iPad is expected to make the health care process smoother and easier and, consequently, less expensive. Looking up patient records and sending data seamlessly to physicians for remote diagnosis are just two of the potential applications that can make the iPad an indispensable tool in hospitals and homes. Coming in the wake of Obama's revolutionary health care reform, the iPad is already poised to make history.

But there is a story behind the iPad story. And that story belongs to Steve Jobs. Nowhere will you find this story more eloquently expressed than in Jobs' commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.

"... it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me," said Jobs. " The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life ... 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."

That is the story in a nutshell. Jobs loved what he did and that's why no setback could set him back. The great physicist Hans Bethe expressed the same sentiment: "Never work on a problem for which you do not have an unfair advantage." Where does the unfair advantage come from? From love for what you do.

Millions of Americans are now without jobs. The long shadow of recessions is unlikely to disappear soon. Yet if you are passionate about something - and you have to have something to be passionate about - nurture it and sooner or later the sun will shine through. As Jobs said, "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life ... have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

So, no matter how useful the iPad may turn out to be, it will always be secondary to the story of the man who loves what he does and never loses faith in himself.

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