a note by Val
Most of us will probably remember where we were when we heard the news that Steve Jobs died. I was out to dinner with friends. As we sat down one of them got a text and blurted it out. It knocked the wind out of me. Jobs was my hero, the reason my business can do what it does. His creativity stimulated mine. His design genius taught me that less is more. His marketing intuition confirmed how I think about people. I live by the mantra "How would Apple do it?"
How could I live without Steve? I soon learned that everyone on the planet was asking themself the same question.
The media tsunami of articles, stories, blogs spoke of personal loss; how Steve's life changed their lives- and how his death killed something in them too. As much as I wanted to blog about it, I chose not to, for my story was nothing new. But when I heard about Jack I knew I had a story. You see, the youngest fans are crying the biggest tears.
Jack is my sister's nephew. He's 12 years old and sort of a triplet (two days after he was adopted, his mom Ann found out she was pregnant with twins). One of Jack's brothers is a gifted diver, the other is a multi instrumental musician, and Jack is KING of the geeks. Oh, don't worry- I'm not dissing Jack. This is the highest compliment I can pay. Their family's computer guy once told Jack, "it's okay to be a geek, just not a nerd.."
Jack doesn't want to "be like Mike" like most little boys do. Jack wants to be like Steve. Steve Jobs is his idol. When he heard the news of his passing, Jack wept. He couldn't go to school. People were calling the house asking, "how's Jack taking the news?" "Is Jack okay?" Before bed that night he said, "I'm having trouble processing this, mom." He said a prayer for Steve Jobs' family. For Jack it was more than getting the wind knocked out of him. His whole sail pitchpoled.
Same for millions of other young techies around the world. Most kids want to be a famous athlete or rock star when they grow up. Geeks want to grow up and change the world.
Jack's been thinking like a grown up since he was little. Ann shared some Jack-isms that I'd like to share with you:
- Jack's a bit of a know-it-all. Very confident about technology; loved Legos but created only his own designs. He was a precocious kid, talked early, told the neighbors "thank you for coming" when he was 16 months old. He has a keen sense of direction; knows where he is and how to get home. Instinctively knew how to steer when backing up a boat sans instruction.
- He has his own website and Ann's hoping he isn't running an international ring of some kind.
- His coveted items are his boating license (he showed up to class with his own pen and highlighter and was the only kid who could sit still during the 8 hour class), wears his cell phone on a camouflage phone clip, is a pack rat and won't throw anything away, brings a brief case bigger than dad's - of stuff to work on when they travel. Their computer guy bought Jack a subscription to Mac World - he reads cover to cover.
- Rules are sacred to Jack and he does not tolerate those who don't follow them, like his brother.
- Jack was obsessed with vacuums as a child. He had many toy vacuums but got a real one for his 3rd birthday. It was all he wanted. When grandma called he'd say, "Hi Nana, do you have a vacuum? What color is it?" He loved the cleaning lady Ida - and always asked "is Ida coming today?" Gifted kids often have unusual obsessions. Now you know Jack.
- Ann has to remind Jack that he's not the parent. But at school he's the master of all things tech. In 2nd grade they pulled him out of class to set up the sound system for the school play.
- Jack is into saving money - and gaming - they won a 5th grade competition: "Create a product and sell it to your classmates." When they ran low on inventory Jack suggested they sell raffle tickets for the last 5 Blobbers. Bingo.
- On vacation when the other kids were running to the pool, Jack decided to run an impromptu business helping people with their luggage using a shopping cart he found.
- When Jack was 8 years old he bought $6000 of Apple computer equip on an old credit card he found in Ann's desk. When the package arrived Jack came into the kitchen and said, "I might know something about this." Ann was horrified to learn that he'd set up an email address and figured out the 3 digit user code on the credit card. Jack had ordered a new laptop plus adaptors for foreign countries (for all of his international travel) , airport adaptors, and 3 iPhones; one for each brother. He paid extra for overnight shipping. In one of Jack's 6 emails was a worried attempt to cancel, "Dear Apple, I don't want this stuff anymore". When Jack's dad asked, "what were you going to do when all of this showed up at the house? " Jack answered, "I was beginning to worry about that."
- Jack was M.I.A. at the family reunion and my sister came in to find Jack sitting in the den with two laptops, a bluetooth in his ear, on the phone... She asked what he was doing. Jack replied, "I'm helping Jacob with his server."
- Jack called Ann down to "see his new office" in the basement. He'd moved his stuff into grandpa's old rolltop desk that Ann desperately wanted to sell on Craigslist. Jack had the old Dell monitor with Steve Jobs' portrait as the screensaver, his laptops, his mini-mac, blue tooth in ear, all bought with his paper route money. He pointed to a photo on the inside cover of Isaacson's book and said, "see mom, Steve Jobs' office was messy too."
Apple's Think Different campaign says it well:
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. They have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
So maybe you do know a Jack.
If you do, honor him - he has big shoes to fill.