After my junior year of college I was able to finagle my way into an internship at Apple. I moved out to Sunnyvale, worked in Cupertino coding for an internal team and only passed by Steve Jobs a few times. He was always walking quickly, but would give eye contact and that brief half smile and head nod that strangers give each other.
I heard him speak in the executive lecture series, where all the Apple execs came in to talk to the interns. Steve took questions, and one was related to where he gets his inspiration from and he said half jokingly “from the scorn of women” before giving a more complete answer. +1.
My one moment with Steve was in the cafeteria. I sat down for lunch and Steve was sitting behind me speaking to someone. It was hard to concentrate on whatever mundane conversation I was having when there sat a man with so much vision and wisdom that I wanted to learn from, just one table away. So I listened, and remember hearing him say:
“I wish I could be a fly on the wall in 100 years to see what technology is like”.
That sentence stuck with me for a long time. To me it symbolizes the type of long term thinking and resolve necessary to build an entity (company, organization, ideals, etc) that is decades old. To create something that lives on for centuries and finds ways to impact our world in profound ways. Our incremental thinking in entrepreneurship must be balanced with a long term world view of what society should be like.
I heard someone say “what did Steve Jobs do beside put shiny iPods in our pockets”, which misses the boat on what a man of his stature can do to a society of entrepreneurs, if only as a symbol of what can be done with patience, taste, and focus.
Pancreatic cancer has taken the lives of many influential figures in my life, including Steve Jobs, Randy Pausch (who spoke at my commencement from CS at CMU), and my Uncle Charles Egerton Denbow. The disease cut their lives short, but their vision and hope for the future will live on through us.