That’s the only thing Steve Jobs ever said to me. Although, I never had the privilege of meeting him, so technically he didn’t say it; he emailed it.
And it wasn’t actually directly to me; it was to a client I was working with at Apple at the time. She had emailed Steve with an overview of an innovative marketing idea we had been working on, and that was his simple feedback.
I immediately printed the email and hung it on my office wall. Today, almost six years later, it’s still hanging there even though I’ve moved offices at least twice. It’s a bit crazy, thinking back on it. I had – indirectly – received a single word of positive feedback from a man I’d never met about a program I was driving with a team of 10 other folks. And yet, somehow, it was one of the most rewarding and inspiring moments of my career.
For me, it was a very personal validation. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that Steve (or at least the company he co-founded) was one of the reasons – perhaps the main reason – that I’m in the advertising industry at all. I was drawn to the industry when I saw an early Macintosh II running some kind of desktop publishing software. I’d long been a computer and gadget nerd, but didn’t exactly know where that passion could take me, career-wise. And then I saw this machine and watched designers moving words and images around a mockup of a newspaper ad with so little effort. It was like magic. It sounds so simple now, but it blew my mind. It struck me as a unique marriage of arts, communication, and technology. I decided then and there that I wanted to be in advertising and have never looked back.
“Thank you, Steve.” The sentiment has been written and expressed in thousands of unique and powerful ways since his passing. For me, it’s more than a thank you for the groundbreaking products that have set the bar for today’s digital lifestyle. It’s more than a thank you for being a relentless perfectionist. More than an acknowledgement of the brilliant advertising he helped create. More than praise for an inspirational, innovative, and remarkable leader. It’s a heartfelt show of gratitude for playing some small part in guiding me toward a career that I love. Thank you for opening my young eyes to the limitless possibilities of technology and for having the vision to create a company rooted in the marriage of liberal arts and technology.
And years later, it’s also a show of gratitude for the smallest bit of personal recognition – a tiny indication that I was doing something right in the eyes of someone I had come to respect and admire. It’s not much, but I’ll take it. And maybe even frame it.
Rest in peace, Steve. And thank you.