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What I Learned From Steve Jobs

From Apple.com

From Apple.com

Three years Steve Jobs and his imaginative leadership left this earth.

I never met Steve Jobs but I was privileged enough to work in an Apple Retail store for two and a half years while he was leading Apple. I started just after the launch of the first iPhone and left after the launch of the iPad. These were exciting years for Apple and for us as employees.

Those years at Apple Retail were more transformative for my life and leadership than my years at seminary.

Here are just a few of the lessons I learned from my time at Apple Retail:

  • Focus on a few things and do them well
  • Give fearless feedback often
  • Enrich lives, don’t just sell products
  • Infuse values into everything that is done and refer to them often
  • Hire for fit on the team, not for qualifications or knowledge

I still remember that day three years ago when I heard that Steve had passed away. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I wanted to go to the Apple Store where I used to work and mourn with my co-workers.

We mourn the passing of those whose life and actions impact our lives the most.

Thank you Steve for inspiring and challenging me to think different.

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Steve Jobs and Christianity

“The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,” stated Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson.

James writes, “Anyone who sets himself up as ‘religious’ by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

Maybe Steve Jobs has a better idea of what Christianity should be all about than some people sitting in church each Sunday.

Prophetic Innovation

Taken from apple.com

I feel like a close friend has died and those I want to mourn with are far away. Upon hearing of the death of Steve Jobs, my heart sunk. The world will not be the same for quite a while. For me it seems like a personal loss even though I never met Steve Jobs.

For two and a half years I had the awesome opportunity to sit under Steve Jobs’ leadership and enrich lives in an Apple Retail Store. From the very beginning we were told that we were involved in changing the world and making a difference in people’s lives through technology. Working at an Apple Store was a special experience. A family was formed. Now that our leader has passed away I feel far away from my family members who I want to mourn with. But thankfully the devices that Steve designed help me feel closer.

In Apple Retail we were not just selling cold pieces of technology. We had the joy of seeing Steve’s products connect people together and enrich the lives of those who purchased them. I could tell story upon story of customers who purchased a Mac or an iDevice and how those devices connected them to their family and friends in very real ways.

What did Steve Jobs have that sets him apart from other innovators and CEO’s? I believe Steve Jobs had what I call “prophetic innovation.” He knew what we wanted before we could even articulate it. Whether it was the Apple II, the iPhone or the iPad he prophetically knew what people would want and designed it for them. He saw a future and designed technology for that future. I love selling products because I know that when people go home and plug them in, they will be hooked. The products sell themselves.

I think Apple will weather this sad loss in stride. Apple is very good at developing new leaders and encouraging leaders to train up a “bench” of talent to step up when there is a transition. Apple is much different than it was in 1985 when Steve left Apple for the first time. Steve has raised up other prophetic innovators to take the torch and run with it. But the world will never quite be the same without Steve Jobs.

We miss you already Steve.