Storytelling: Steve Jobs

September 5, 2011 Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

I love Steve Jobs. Not because he was the CEO of Apple or a billionaire or he dresses cool in black turtlenecks and jeans. Nor for his products, since I still use a PC. I love him because of his story.

Steve Jobs proves the power of stories, and not a story from one of his famous presentations. Last week Jobs’ resignation as CEO of Apple sent shockwaves through cyberspace. The first line of his letter to the “Apple Community” spells it out: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.” No doubt his disease has progressed beyond even his ability to control it.

But why was there such an outpouring of love for a billionaire CEO? Jobs is so well-loved and achieved superstar status because of his “story” more than the commercial success of Apple. And what a story it is. He and Woz created Apple in 1976 in Jobs’ garage, and Jobs turned it into a computer powerhouse. But in 1985, he was kicked out by the man he appointed to run the company. But Jobs didn’t mope around or take up yachting or dating Hollywood starlets, he got right back to work and created Pixar.

All he did at Pixar was create the first computer-animated film, Toy Story, in 1995. The huge success of the film not only jump-started Pixar Animation Studios, but revolutionized the animated film industry. The success of Toy Story inspired similar hits like A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo.

After Jobs left Apple, it teetered perilously close to bankruptcy. Then Jobs, riding on his white horse, came back to save his child. It is right out of a Hollywood script, except it is fact. In 1996, the company was in dire financial straits and many forecast its imminent demise. Jobs engineered a magnificent rescue, and in the process created the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. The comeback of all comebacks. And Steve Jobs ascended to cult status.

Steve Jobs’ rise and fall and rise inspires us. Through force of will, grit and brilliance, he fought his way all the way back to the top and then created an even greater empire. It reminds me of his epic “1984” advertisement that pictured the Mac overthrowing IBM’s Big Brother. It seemed that Big Brother had won.

But in a storybook ending Steve Jobs won. And that is why we love him.