The Return of Jobs

The Apple Revolution: 10 Key Moments, #4

“He had become a far better leader, less of a go-to-hell aesthete who cared only about making beautiful objects,” wrote Fortune’s editor-at-large Peter Elkind of the co-founder’s triumphant return. “Now he was a go-to-hell aesthete who cared about making beautiful objects that made money.” In time, he became recognized as one of the company’s most valuable assets.

I have the same likes (both soundtracks are superb, both casts are great) and dislikes (both screenplays are lousy) with Jobs as The Social Network. Robert X. Cringely nails it for Jobs (as John Hagel did for TSN; cinematic tropes fail Storytelling 101 with these type of tech stories):

Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs somehow misses the whole point

something happened during Steve’s NeXT years (which occupy less than a 60 seconds of this 122 minute film) that turned Jobs from a brat into a leader, but they don’t bother to cover that. In his later years Steve still wasn’t an easy guy to know but he was an easier guy to know. His gut for product was still good but his positions were more considered and thought out. He inspired workers without trying so much to dominate or hypnotize them […] at some point Steve did change. It was subtle but real and it set the tone for the last 15 years of his life — the most productive 15 years of his life or that of any American executive.

Everything in italics is Cringely’s emphasis, mine is bolded — because it’s the most significant point he makes (but I’d also add, with NeXT, Pixar). I also give Ashton Kutcher big points for acting, but question the inaccuracies used. The art of cinematic biographical storytelling — condensing a lifespan into a two-hour frame — fails. However, John Debney’s score actually tells the story. Watching the movie when Track #33.- Think Different started playing captured something. It made me watch Jobs’ introduction of this ad campaign, 8-10 weeks (September 23, 1997) after returning to Apple.

Jobs notes the “poetic” first airing of Think Different on The Wonderful World of Disney that Sunday during the television premiere of Toy Story {11:00}. The permissions needed, and granted, to show the images of everyone appearing in this ad: Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso. Until Think Different, most of these people never appeared in this type of advertisement and Jobs adds, “and never would until we asked them”.

It’s been an incredible moving experience for me that these people, both living and dead (their estates), have felt so strongly about Apple that they were willing to let us do this. I don’t think there is another company on earth that could have done this campaign. And that to me is something very special.

Think Different Rosa Parks Poster

In 2005, when Rosa Parks died, the Apple website had a photo of her on their first page with the Think Different logo. Many, unfamiliar with the 1997 campaign, thought this was tasteless.

Do you know who that is? Rosa Parks. They’ll be five buses running around five major cities like that.


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