Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


6 Comments

Lessons I’ve learned from Steve Jobs

by Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

 

Like Steve Jobs, I grew up at a time when huge mainframe computers would fill entire rooms.  The concept of having one’s own personal computer was unthinkable.   In Palo Alto the future Silicon Valley where Jobs grew up, virtually everyone was an engineer or worked in electronics.[i]  My dream from Grade 3 to Grade 10 was to be an electrical engineer like my father.  I will never forget when my dad gave me my first microprocessor, replacing the old vacuum tubes.   While completing my Masters in 1980, I submitted two papers written on the University of British Columbia mainframe.  My professor commented that this was the first computer paper that he had ever read, but not likely his last.

In reading Walter Isaacson’s recent Steve Jobs biography, I was inspired to think about lessons that we might learn from Jobs’ life.  Jobs was a world-changer, a revolutionary, and an artist.  One of his maxims was “It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy.”  Jobs once even hoisted a Jolly Roger flag with the eye patch being the Apple logo.   He commented: “we were the renegades and we wanted people to know it.”[ii]

Jobs had a genius for creativity, innovation and excellence.  ‘Good enough’ for Jobs was not good enough.  He wanted people to stretch, to dream and to risk everything on the next technological breakthrough.  Jobs said: “There’s an old Wayne Gretzsky quote that I love.  I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”[iii]  Curiosity and the joy of discovery propelled Jobs to imagine the unimaginable.  Through Pixar, iPod, and iPhone, Jobs radically reshaped movies, music and phones.  I remember the buzz of waiting in line at Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver for the iPhone 4.  I was given the eighth of the eight phones delivered that day.  A lady from the jewelry store rushed over and told me that this would change my life. It felt somewhat over the top but she proved to be right. Using my iPhone probably shaved about one to two years off my doctorate.

Jobs had a remarkable gift at integrating technology and beauty, science and art.  Robert Palladino, a former monk teaching calligraphy at Reed College, radically shaped Jobs’ passion for design.  Bill Gates once said: “I would give a lot to have Steve’s taste.”[iv]

Like his Microsoft rival Bill Gates, Jobs was a technological rock star.  Eight times, he was on the cover of Time, over twelve times on the cover of Fortune, as well as the covers of Rolling Stone and Newsweek.  Bono called Jobs the hardware/software Elvis.[v]  Bill Gates once said: “Don’t you understand that Steve [Jobs] doesn’t know anything about technology?  He’s just a super salesman… He doesn’t know anything about engineering and 99% of what he says and thinks is wrong….”[vi]

In the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, Jobs accused Gates of stealing ideas from Apple.  Gates memorably responded: “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”[vii]

Ejected from his own company Apple, Jobs picked himself up and dusted himself off, going on to a stunning financial success with Pixar’s Toy Story movie.  When Jobs returned to Apple, the company was very demoralized, just ninety days from bankruptcy.  Jobs rallied the troops, insightfully saying: “Apple didn’t have to beat Microsoft. Apple had to remember who Apple was.”[viii]

Our greatest weaknesses are often hidden in our greatest strengths.  Jobs’ passion for excellence often made him very painful to work with.  Many of his personal and business relationships were unable to survive his aggressive zeal for innovation.  Jobs’ ability to silently stare and then blow up at people allowed him to weed out unsuitable colleagues.  Karen Blumenthal commented that “he could be both charming and gratingly abrasive, sensitive and stunningly mean-spirited.”[ix]  Gates jokingly once said: “Steve is so known for his restraint.”[x]   In some ways, he was a Samson figure, talented and tortured.  At age 23, he abandoned his own child Lisa, denying his paternity, the same age that his birth parents gave him away.  Only fourteen years later, after naming a computer after her, did Jobs bring Lisa back into his life.[xi]

Raised in church, Jobs described his becoming disenchanted when the pastor seemed callous about the suffering of African children.  How sad that the pastor did not challenge Jobs to join him in making a practical difference in Africa.  The malnutrition of African children doesn’t have to be that way.  We can be Jesus’ hands and feet.  Steve and his good friend Bill Fernandez spent many hours walking and discussing spiritual matters: “We were both interested in the spiritual side of things, the big questions: who are we? What is it all about? What does it mean?”[xii]

Perhaps one of the best influences in Jobs’ life was Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.  Jobs and Wozniak’s partnership integrated the hippie and the nerd, bringing together vision and know-how.   Without Wozniak, there would have been no Apple.  Woz remarkably said that Jobs had been respectful to him on almost every occasion.  Ronald Wayne, another Apple co-founder commented: “Wozniak was a fascinating guy, fun to be with and the most gracious guy I ever met.”[xiii] Steve Wozniak observed: “Although I never went to church, I was influenced occasionally by stories about Christian things; values like the idea of turning the other cheek. If somebody does something bad to you, you don’t fight back. You’re still good to them and treat them with love from your heart. Values of caring about the communities I grew up in, the schools that I went to, the cities I lived in; putting proper value on that. Values of respecting other people; not being a criminal or stealing.”[xiv]  Woz embodied Jesus’ Golden rule to do unto others as we would have them do to us.

My ultimate lesson from the Apple co-founders is to be like Jobs in innovation while being like Woz in respecting people.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


[i] Steve Jobs: the last thing PBS movie, 1999.

[ii] Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, New York , NY, 2011) P. 144-145.

[iii] Anthony Imbimbo, Steve Jobs: the Brilliant Mind Behind Apple (Gareth Stevens Publishing, Pleasantville, NY, 2009) Steve Jobs: the last thing PBS movie, 1999, p. 97.

[iv] Steve Jobs: the last thing PBS movie, 1999

[v] Karen Blumenthal, Steve Jobs: the Man who thought different (Fiewel and Friends, New York, NY, 2012), p. 263, p. 278.

[vi] Isaacson, p. 302.

[vii] Andy Hertzfeld,  A Rich Neighbor Named Xerox,  November 1983 http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=A_Rich_Neighbor_Named_Xerox.txt (accessed Feb 10th 2014)

[viii] Steve Jobs: the last thing PBS movie, 1999.

[ix] Blumenthal, p. 2.

[x] Steve Jobs: the last thing PBS movie, 1999

[xi] Laura Collins, Daily Mail, UK, “Steve Job’s ex-lover’s book reveals Apple founder”, October 29th 2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2478339/Steve-Jobs-ex-lovers-book-reveals-Apple-founder.html (accessed Feb 10th 2014)

[xii] Blumenthal, p. 13.

[xiii] Steve Jobs: the last thing PBS movie, 1999

[xiv] “An Interview with Steve Wozniak”, http://www.thetech.org/exhibits/online/revolution/wozniak/i_b.html (accessed Feb 10th 2014)


Leave a comment

Say No to the Status Quo

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Our family worked for the Woodwards Department Store for many years.  My mother met my father through a Woodwards dance put on for the Air Force servicemen. My sister worked for Woodwards. For one month, I worked for Woodwards at age 17 in Women’s Shoes.  I had no idea how complicated it was to find all those hundreds of shoes hidden on massive shelves in the back of the store.

For many years, Woodwards in Oakridge was our favorite walking destination.  My mother and grandmother loved Woodwards’ famous $1.49 Day sales to which massive crowds would always flock. Woodwards to me was an unshakable permanent institution that had always been there, and would always be there. It was as Canadian as hockey and maple syrup.  Woodwards had been there for one hundred years since Charles Woodwards founded it in 1892.  Then suddenly one day it was gone.  It had been swallowed by its conforming to the status quo.

In Seth Godin’s bestselling book Tribes, he comments that the organizations that need innovation the most are the ones that do the most to stop it from happening.  It is very easy to get stuck, to embrace the status quo, and hunker down. Godin says that this will result in our implosion.  Organizations with a future must be willing to be risk-takers, to embrace creativity and innovation.

Godin says that it is not fear of failure that cripples leaders. It is the fear of criticism.  No one likes to be publicly criticized.  21st-century leaders need to be willing to get out of the boat and pay the price of going first.  In my thirty years as an Anglican clergy, I have sometimes wondered whether I acted too early. At other times, I have been concerned that I was not moving fast enough.   Leaders have to be very sensitive to the still small voice.  Timing is everything in leadership.  We don’t want to rush ahead of God, nor do we want to lag behind.

Godin says that “the largest enemy of change and leadership isn’t a ‘no’. It’s a ‘not yet’. ‘Not yet’ is the safest, easiest way to forestall change. ‘Not yet’ gives the status quo a chance to regroup and put off the inevitable for just a little while longer. Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late….There’s a small price for being too early, but a huge penalty for being too late.”  There have been times in my life when the boat almost left and I was not on it.  There was a time in North Vancouver when I had to make a tough decision that I personally hoped would just go away. I was stuck in the ‘not yets’.  One of my friends sensed this and challenged me to not be a ‘maybe Ed’.  When the time came eight and a half years ago, God gave me the courage to push through my ‘not yets’ and my ‘maybes’.  The rest is history.

Seth Godin teaches that every tribe needs leaders. Managers make widgets and create bureaucracies and factories.  Leaders have followers and make change.  The secret of leadership according to Godin is simple: “Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there.”  One of my most palpable fears as a teenager is that I would end up stuck in a job that I would hate and have no way out of. In my thirty years as a clergyperson, I have often felt overwhelmed and inadequate for the task, but I have never regretted devoting my life to serving others as an Anglican priest.

As the leader of St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, I have seen many changes and challenges over the past 23 years.  One of the reasons I am still at St. Simon’s NV is because of the climate of innovation built into its DNA.  Our lay leaders are passionate, committed, and sold out to Jesus Christ.  I admire deeply their willingness to risk all in order to be faithful to their mission and calling.  Seth Godin says that ‘The safer you are with your plans for the future, the riskier it actually is.”  Leadership is a choice: a choice to risk all to be faithful to the vision of a better future. The very nature of leadership, says Godin, is that you’re not doing what’s been done before.

We live in a culture that worships size, buildings and money.  Many of the Woodwards of yesterday have become the dinosaurs of today.  No organization is immune, no matter what its numbers, facilities or financial resources.  If we refuse to innovate, we choose to die.  Remarkable visions and genuine insights, says Godin, are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance.  The forces for mediocrity will align to stop you.  Never give up.

Criticizing hope, says Godin, is easy. Fearful bureaucrats can always say that they’ve done it before and it didn’t work.  But cynicism is a dead-end strategy.  Without hope, there is no future to work for.  Godin observes that without passion and commitment, nothing happens. So often no one in an organization really cares; no one deeply believes in the bigger vision.  No one is willing to sacrifice so that breakthroughs can happen.  Real leaders are willing to pay the price. Real leaders are willing to risk all for the greater good.  Real leaders care.  I challenge each of us reading this article to come up to the plate and choose to be a real leader. Say no to the status quo.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca