After my junior year of college I was able to finagle my way into an
internship at Apple. I moved out to Sunnyvale, worked in Cupertino
coding for an internal team and only passed by Steve Jobs a few times.
He was always walking quickly, but would give eye contact and that brief
half smile and head nod that strangers give each other.
I heard him speak in the executive lecture series, where all the Apple
execs came in to talk to the interns. Steve took questions, and one was
related to where he gets his inspiration from and he said half jokingly
“from the scorn of women” before giving a more complete answer. +1.
My one moment with Steve was in the cafeteria. I sat down for lunch and
Steve was sitting behind me speaking to someone. It was hard to
concentrate on whatever mundane conversation I was having when there sat
a man with so much vision and wisdom that I wanted to learn from, just
one table away. So I listened, and remember hearing him say:
"I wish I could be a fly on the wall in 100 years to see what
technology is like".
That sentence stuck with me for a long time. To me it symbolizes the
type of long term thinking and resolve necessary to build an entity
(company, organization, ideals, etc) that is decades old. To create
something that lives on for centuries and finds ways to impact our world
in profound ways. Our incremental thinking in entrepreneurship must be
balanced with a long term world view of what society should be like.
I heard someone say “what did Steve Jobs do beside put shiny iPods in
our pockets”, which misses the boat on what a man of his stature can do
to a society of entrepreneurs, if only as a symbol of what can be done
with patience, taste, and focus.
Pancreatic cancer has taken the lives of many influential figures in my
life, including Steve Jobs, Randy Pausch (who spoke at my commencement from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University), and my Uncle Charles Egerton Denbow. The disease cut their lives short, but their vision and hope for the future will live on through us.