What Would Jobs Do?: Living Your Brand Steve’s Way

Personal Branding

An outpouring of emotion flowed. Video tributes were uploaded. Cards and flowers were left at Apple Stores everywhere. People were moved to tears and imagining what else the man could’ve given the world with 20-25 more good years.

When was the last time you were moved this way by a person in business you didn’t directly know?

I can’t recall. Because the passing of Steve Jobs shows us once and for all that accomplishing greatness is directly tied to what you cause people to feel.

We didn’t speak of market share or ROI or volume of Macs moved. Sure, in the end, Apple’s financial turnaround from the depths of despair was astounding. But strangers don’t leave flowers outside a deceased company leader’s doorstep because last quarter was 10% more profitable than the last.

They do it because he inspired us to imagine what is possible in our own lives. We talk so often of iPods and iPhones and iPods in association with Jobs but that’s only part of the story. Can you imagine how many more entrepreneurs this man inspired with his vision alone?

We talk of how he changed people in computing. But how many people in advertising did he inspire by the famous “1984” commercial? How many people in animation did he inspire through Pixar? How many people in the crowd that day at Stanford did he inspire when he gave the commencement speech about living every day as if it was your last? How many people were inspired to change their presentation styles to be true theater vs. boring PowerPoints?

Yet, as we reflect on a great mind, now isn’t the time to wonder what we’ll do without him. Because if more of us can strive to have the passion he did, we’ll have quite the success stories of our own to share for the next generation.

Here are 10 great principles for our own brands to live by:

Everything you unveil will be a powerful event.
Whether that unveiling is in your boss’ office, a boardroom or an industry conference. Your audience’s time is valuable. Treat it as such by showing the care you’ve put into the detail and preparation.

Every presentation will not be charts and graphs, but stories.
You won’t merely share numbers on a slide after slide but get your audience’s brainwaves to crackle with delight at the possibilities to come ahead. You won’t report to them. You’ll involve them and ask them questions to encourage participation.

You won’t just deliver what your audience knows it wants now but the things they hadn’t even considered in the future.
We didn’t know we needed a digital music player that would make us want to get rid of our CD collection, but when it entered the market, we had to have it. We didn’t know we needed a smartphone that had these things we downloaded called “apps,” but once we learned more, we had to line up around the block for it.

Research is vital but not just to give customers what they want in the present day. Aim to give them what they had never imagined before. As Jobs observed, if you only build around the present, “By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

You’ll strive to change lives outside of your industry.
It’s a wonderful achievement to be recognized by your peers. It’s another word entirely to describe the lasting effect you can have outside of it.

You’ll never look at yourself as a product or service provider.
It’s limiting. If you met Steve Jobs at a party and he said, “I’m in computers,” would that be an accurate picture of his abilities? No. It’s not about what you do. It’s about what people feel as a result of you. And if they aren’t feeling something, then you have to take a deeper look within to ask yourself and your company why that is.

You’ll find inspiration from places far, far away from your industry.
You wouldn’t think calligraphy and computers would have much in common with another. But when Jobs was designing the first Mac, he recalled a calligraphy class he took in college in which he learned about letter combinations and typefaces. He incorporated the principles from calligraphy to make a computer with typography that was more beautiful than any computer before it. So you never know how a seemingly unconnected place to your field will inspire what you create within it.

You won’t do it primarily for the money.
Jobs didn’t care about having more money than Bill Gates. He cared about creating something wonderful, original and with meaning. He succeeded. Over and over again.

You’ll find the big choices easier because of your own mortality.
If today was your last day, would you accomplish what you wanted to do? Jobs asked himself that every day for decades. And if too many days in a row were filled with disappointment, he knew that would signal the need to make a significant change in life.

You’ll see failure as temporary and sometimes even a blessing.
Jobs said that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could’ve happened to him. Because in his time away from the company, he entered a period of his life that was lighter, more free and more creative. When he returned to Apple, his contributions were more extraordinary than anything he’d done the first time around. Failure is painful in its immediacy but it doesn’t define you for the long-term.

You’ll move on from your last great accomplishment as quickly as possible.
If Steve Jobs only fell in love with what he’d done with the Macintosh, we’d be deprived of some of the innovations we enjoy today. Luckily, he never rested on his laurels for long before thinking about what was next.

What will we do without Steve Jobs? I think if we can incorporate some of these principles into our own lives, he’ll have a lasting impact on our personal brands far beyond the technology he gave us.