Steve Jobs, a person I never got to know personally but who’s been my mentor, inspiration and product guru, died yesterday night at the age of 56. So early, so young… yet it all seems he’s comeback to Apple has been all a great plan until his very death. He’s known for planning everything carefully. Aware of the fact that the cancer is winning, he even seemed to have planned his death and timed it perfectly. I think it takes a great courage to plan a departure like Steve.
Steve’s Last Year at Apple
He was struggling with cancer since 2004 but every battle until now he won. And when he did, he was coming again and introducing yet another ground-braking innovation.
This time he knew it was over and he planned his last year at Apple in an amazing way:
Step 1. Medical Leave
In January he took the medical leave to let the company be run by Tim Cook and became a mentor to the whole company while letting them run about their business to show to everyone (and prove to himself) that Apple can be run without him.
Step 2. The iPad 2
He took the stage to show off the second iPad while nailing to the ground all the would-be competitors. He did it personally to make a statement that “people don’t really want tablets - they want iPads”.
Step 3. The most-valuable company
He didn’t plan this although it “just” happened. Apple became the most valuable company in the world thanks to all he’s done in the past years. Perfect to commemorate his last year alive.
Step 4. WWDC and the iCloud that “just works”
Despite being really sick, he took the stage to show off his latest invention - the iCloud. If you look at the keynote carefully, when you see him say hi, he looks really sick… but when he comes back on the stage for the second time, he’s a different person. He’s so excited about the iCloud that he almost jumps on the stage. You can see he’s a product guy and he’s totally in love with this new thing that will change the way we work… yet again. He repeats several time how the iCloud “just works”… as this is what Steve was all about… about stuff “just working”.
Step 5. The Apple Mothership in Cupertino
Just after the Apple event, with the same eagerness and spirit Steve Jobs appeared in front of the Cupertino City Council to show them the project he’s been working on lately - new Apple Headquarters in Cupertino that will be nothing like any other office building in the world. You could see he was excited and needed to present this one personally.
Like all great artist and masters, Steve knew he wouldn’t be able to see it built. He knew he’s not destined to work there but wanted to pass on his dream to a younger generation of Apple employees and enthusiasts. It reminds me of Antonio Gaudi designing the Sagrada Familia - a work of art greater than himself - Gaudi knew it’d take 130 years to build it. He didn’t care. He went on with it knowing he’ll not see it built entirely. Ever. Steve was a grand artist the same way.
Step 6. Resignation as the CEO
At his deathbed he finally decided to resign from the role of CEO while he was still alive. He wanted to make sure the shock at Apple wouldn’t be that powerful. He wanted to see and witness this transition made official. Some say he was at Apple on the day he resigned to make sure personally everything went according to the plan. I’m sure it’s true. It’s Steve. And we’re talking about a dying man here.
The additional benefit of resigning was being able to witness how people reacted to it. He received so many letters of praise, articles in press and so much attention and he still could enjoy it while spending his last days on Earth. I’m sure he enjoyed it a lot and hope it sweetened the imminent d-day at least a little.
Step 7. Apple iPhone event
The first event after his medical leave that he didn’t attend. It was Tim Cook’s show with other executives participating and helping out. Steve could enjoy how his spirit and soul lives on at Apple and how these guys can pull a great show and assure everyone that Apple will do just fine. Again, I’m sure he enjoyed watching it happen. His disciples were doing a great job. Now the Jedi master himself could finally move on.
Final Step: Death
Only two days after the event Steve passed away. His job was done. Apple is in good hands. His soul and spirit will live on. The death seems to be perfectly timed with everything that happened this past year. He will be missed. While I believe in the Afterlife, I don’t know what Steve believes in, but I’m sure he’s achieved his Nirvana.
One more thing: Steve’s Biography
Even this time Steve didn’t disappoint. His “one more thing” at an Apple even was always a moment everyone’s been waiting for. This time is no different. His first official and authorized biography will hit the shelves this November - one month after his death. I’m getting at least one copy. I’ve read all of the other Steve’s biographies and can’t wait to read this one and pay tribute to Steve.
Steve is a real perfectionist
He proved again that even his death can be planned perfectly and he knew how to execute this plan. I can’t even imagine how much courage it takes to come to terms with the imminent death and plan your last year alive. Yet he’s done it and proved again there’s no one like him.
Steve, God bless, may your soul rest in peace. I know it will.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech