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Dreaming big...


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"Do you have any [expletive] idea what it's like to be me?", Steve Jobs once angrily retorted to someone. Actually, lately I have a pretty good idea. There's no way that I can quantify any of this blog post to strangers without spending a few hours hanging out, so let's just assume I'm not a self-involved toolbox and keep going shall we?


Steve has been heralded as many things over the decades, some say "visionary", others "innovator", but I believe first and foremost that the main thing that Steve offered to the people around him, was his skills as a facilitator. How do I know? Because Steve and I are very alike. Before I go on, let's dissect my statement some. If we're being totally honest, the only vision Steve had was directly related not to seeing the future of brilliant products, but in fact was more founded upon his criticism of current products. Don't believe me? Go read the official biography. The iPhone wasn't created because he sat their dreaming of a touch-screen, app-filled world, but simply because (in his own words) most phones "were pretty {censored}". Likewise much of his drive for creating good computers was found in criticizing the creations of others. There's nothing inherently wrong in this, I'm just pointing it out as an important factor in understanding the true nature of his genius. As far as an innovator? Well, he did introduce some innovative products, but by and large his name is on patents no more prominently than any of the other people he worked with. Innovation rarely comes from one person alone, especially in the technological industry. Without relying too heavily on semantics to back my statement up, I'll just say that Steve was the head of a team of innovators (Apple), and while we can say he left a legacy of innovation, that doesn't mean that this word sums him up fundamentally as an individual I don't say any of this to disparage his memory or in some way lessen what he did, because as I'm about to explain, I don't think that facilitating is any less honorable than being a visionary, or an innovator.


No, Steve was definitely first and foremost a facilitator. He empowered the people around him to do great things. What if Steve Jobs wasn't around when a younger Jony Ive was working on strange-looking computer models in one of Apple's design studios? Steve himself was looking outside the company for industrial designers, and just happened upon Sir Ive's work one day. Another CEO might have passed on by, perhaps complained that the designers already working for Apple were terrible, but not Jobs. He saw potential, and he facilitated. Sure, there would be months of trashing small "errors" that others wouldn't even see, hours of shouting about corrections not made, and near breakdowns when the prototype didn't have the slot-load DVD drive hours before unveiling, but the iMac finally arrived and changed the look of desktops forever. How many other corporate CEOs can you see saying "yes" when Ive said (paraphrased) "Well, you do know that this thing is going to be see-through, right?" It makes you wonder - how many other incredible designers are sitting out there, working on mind-blowing clay models and yet, at the end of the day, they either take them home hoping one day someone will see the brilliance in what they do or else they dejectedly drop them in the trash...


I see true vision in Jony Ives - creating something brilliant out of a pile of clay on his desk. THAT is vision. Innovation? The multi-touch technology from Fingerworks that Apple (led by Jobs) purchased in 2005. But facilitating? Nobody has even facilitated like Steve. Nobody has ever provided avenues for success of the people around him like he did.


Sometimes I feel as though I'm full of great ideas for other people. I don't have programming skills, but I can give you three great ideas right now that would be open-source hits. I don't have great prototyping skills, but I have two products in mind that would make someone $50,000 in a year, easily. I also have an idea for a website that I believe could rival some of the big ones, but again, simply don't have the skills or initial capital to make it happen (note: not all great websites require start-up capital, but done right this one does). Why am I telling you this? Well mostly because I'm frustrated and need an outlet, but also to leave some encouragement. In my first draft of this blog post I made the comment "who's going to entrust an exciting idea to a college dropout", and then realized the irony of that statement. I know there are other dreamers/facilitators on this website - the OSx86 community naturally pulls them in (along with the hackers, tinkerers and other creatives). If you're reading..."bon courage" as they say in France. Don't lose that spark, that excitement you get about working with people and working with big ideas. You are the ones who drive innovation, and the world needs you. As for me? I'll be sitting in my home office, pretending to edit pictures for people, while I dream of one day seeing the people around me being free to bringing their innovation and vision to the public eye. Though Steve probably didn't say it often, there's no prouder moment for a facilitator than seeing the collaborative dreams of his or her team come to life and be successful...

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