A Loss for Words

Watching Tim Cook present for the first time during this week’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event was really interesting. Although we’ve seen Cook speak at several previous events, this was his first time in the lime-light.

Let me preface this piece with one important factor: I will not attempt to compare Tim with Steve. These two greats clearly are unique in their own ways. What I would like to do is bring some of my own observations to the table.

I started writing this on Tuesday afternoon, however ended up with a loss for words as to the direction I wanted to take. Clearly, had I published this prior to Steve Jobs’s death, my opinions about Tuesday’s event would be significantly different. Having hindsight, it would have been very clear to me that something seemed off about Tim Cook and Phil Schiller. A certain exuberance seemed to be lacking during their presentations, however given the circumstances, they did a fantastic job and should be applauded. It’s strange though, even after I think back to Tuesday, that empty “reserved” seat in the front row didn’t sink in. The realization that Steve was gravely ill, and possibly close to death, did not enter my mind. In fact, I was perplexed as to why they would have left that seat open. Now of course, it seems so obvious that everyone knew what was inevitable.

I think Tim is a great orator. His style differs from Steve, however it’s evident that one can’t be mentored by a true great without picking up a few pointers. One only has to look back at past WWDC keynotes to see that Tim has learned to take more pauses at key points during his speech. Steve was always succinct, and knew exactly where to take a break in a sentence. I know everyone at Apple must be hurting right now. Those who worked closely with Steve: Tim, Phil et al, were not just colleagues, they were protégés; friends even. Given what I know now, I really believe Tim is a great leader and will do well as Steve’s successor. The right people are working for Apple right now. They are a talented bunch, have a great product roadmap and the eco system to keep things going strong for the next 5-10 years.

I have not been a Mac user for very long, at least not in comparison to many others who grew up with them during the 80s. While I always had the pleasure of using various Macs while growing up in the 80s, it wasn’t until the mid 2000s when I bought my first, and very own Mac. The experience was truly ground breaking, and I’ve been a fan and follower since. It’s not just the products themselves that are wonderful, which they are. I feel a close connection to Apple and the people involved with every aspect of everything they do. Apple is the only company that I’ve ever known who sweats the smallest of details, who obsess about every aspect of what they do. You see, Apple appeals to my own sensibilities as a lover of exquisite design, user experience, care, and attention to detail.

I never met Steve Jobs, nor did I have the pleasure of even seeing him in person, doing what he does best on stage. I only know of what I’ve read: the numerous anecdotes, famous quotes and interviews shared all over the Internet. In many ways, Steve’s uniqueness and eccentricities remind me of myself. After watching his speech at Stanford, he reassured my own beliefs that I need to follow my own path, and not settle.

Next year I’m going to be 30 years old. I feel like I’ve come to a crossroads in my life. A lot of major changes have been happening recently, and I feel it is every more important now that I focus on what I love and want to do. I think Steve was right: the pieces will fall into place if you never give up and go after what you truly want to do.

Thank you Steve for your amazing insights and inspiration over the years. You changed the world for the better, and each and every one of us should strive to reach the peak of our human potential. I know I certainly will.