Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist at Apple, was preparing to give a webinar on Facebook marketing for the Social Media Examiner on Wednesday when Apple announced that Steve Jobs had died at the age of 56.
Although his phones were ringing off the hook with journalists trying to get quotes from him, Kawasaki — the author of 10 books, including “The Macintosh Way” and “Enchantment,” co-founder of Alltop.com and founding partner of Garage Technology Ventures — decided to go ahead with the webinar, but to change the subject to what Jobs and Apple meant to him.
Kawasaki, a native of Hawaii and a graduate of Stanford and UCLA, joined Apple in 1983 as a software evangelist. His job was to meet with software and hardware companies and convince them to use Macintosh products.
“The Macintosh division, I think, was probably the greatest collection of egomaniacs in the history of California, and that is saying a lot, believe me,” he recalled. “ … Working in the Macintosh division in the mid-’80s was like working at Disneyland, or more accurately, being paid to go to Disneyland.
“Basically, the division was on a mission, a mission from Steve … And this mission from Steve was that we wanted to prevent worldwide domination of information and freedom from IBM. So we looked at IBM as the enemy …
“This was Steve’s division. What we did is we worked very, very hard because we truly thought we were on a mission to improve people’s creativity and productivity and prevent totalitarianism, primarily of IBM. The group was a very interesting collection of people … a merry band of pirates. Steve himself had only attended one semester of Reed, a college in Oregon, so here we were, on paper not so qualified.”
In January 1984 at De Anza College in Cupertino, Kawasaki experienced “one of the most enchanting moments of my life: to watch Macintosh be introduced by Steve Jobs.”
Kawasaki remembered “we went through this period of euphoria, then we went through this period of down in the dumps. This is one of those major times when, according to all the experts, Apple was supposed to die.” John Sculley was brought in as CEO and Jobs was out. Jobs founded NeXT, Apple bought NeXT, Jobs came back to Apple and introduced the iMac, followed by the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
“I can tell you with total certainty that Steve Jobs was a great, if not the greatest, influence in my life,” said Kawasaki. “From him I learned … an appreciation of design, an appreciation of elegance and simplicity. I learned how far you can push people, that you can get the best work out of people by pushing them with great challenges.
“Steve wasn’t exactly a warm and fuzzy guy, but he got the best results out of people. He could drive you crazy because the trash can icon didn’t look right or a certain shade of black wasn’t black enough …
“I consider it an honor to have worked for him in the Macintosh division. And only 100 or so people can say that, so what a time! … And if you look back, no matter how you feel about Apple, you have to say it was among the starters of the personal computer industry. It definitely made the graphical user interface go mainstream.
“If you look at it, Steve Jobs created … the Apple I standard, the Apple II standard, the Macintosh standard, then he created his smartphone standard iPhone, iPod standard, iPad standard. Lots of companies and people are fortunate to create one revolution, but Steve Jobs arguably created four or five.
“I truly do believe that if you look at all the CEOs over the history of business, I don’t think there’s a CEO who has done more for his employees, his shareholders, and his customers. The world is a lot worse off without Steve Jobs. May he rest in peace. But wow, what a job he did for everybody, personally for me, and many, many people who worked for the Macintosh division.
“And I think in many ways, for many of the people who use Apple products, that these Apple products made them more creative, more productive and brought joy and enchantment to their lives.”
(Transcription of webinar by Morgan Ramsey)