Mourning a Prof-ersonal Friend
The business world lost a great person this week with the passing of Steve Jobs. I did not know him personally but the fact that he changed the way I listen to music, how productive I am at work, and how my children are entertained and learn, gave me a sense of some personal connection to the man, even moreso than some family members or friends. Jobs’ own personal life was kept private yet there was no mistaking his business acumen, accomplishments, leadership and vision. That professional persona can be defined with several adjectives. The ones that quickly come to my mind include innovator, leader, visionary, risk-taker, champion and committed professional, to name a few. It was clear Steve Jobs loved what he did and took it so far that he changed the world. He did that with a company, with innovative products and services, clever marketing, convincing sales and a team of smarties that shared his passion and, in unison, followed his lead. It had to be quite extraordinary being around Steve Jobs each day in a professional environment. How did he make decisions? Where did his inspiration come from? What level of tenacity against the competition drove him? Did he ever take a moment to realize his accomplishments and rest on those laurels?
I love what I do and know marketing is ‘my’ calling. I like to think that I’m making great strides in my career yet have so much more to accomplish. I am constantly learning and perfecting my craft, bringing that value to the clients that trust in my service(s). I’m changing with the times, innovating with every new concept, carefully strategizing and creating/following a vision. I teach marketing and like to share what I know with others. Yeah, that all sounds great, however, in this time of deep reflection, I can’t help but ask myself the question, in a professional sense, “How am I changing or going to change the world?” “Am I even capable of it?” “How long will it take?” “Do I really want to?” and “How and where do I start?”
In trying to answer these questions, I thought about some of those adjectives mentioned above and what they truly mean. Here are some definitions (from Wikipedia):
- Innovation: “to renew or change,” stemming from in—”into” + novus—”new”
- Champion: the victor in a challenge, contest or competition
- Vision: inspirational experiences
- Leader: the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”. Alan Keith of Genentech states that “Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.” According to Ken “SKC” Ogbonnia, “effective leadership is the ability to successfully integrate and maximize available resources within the internal and external environment for the attainment of organizational or societal goals.”
As I recited those words, a few other names immediately emerged in my mind: Einstein, Juliani, Federer, Hendrix, Dylan, Roosevelt, Yo Yo Ma, Susan B., Martin Luther King, Jr., Jordan, Antoinette, Welch—I could go on and on. All of these people were the best at what they do—albeit their work, their craft, their art. I am pretty sure most of them did not think much at the time that they were going to change the world, it just came naturally from being good at it, by doing it often and instinctively perfecting it over time. There had to be some cocktail of luck, PR and attention that helped along the way but, for the most part, their excellence and consistency shined through with every step up and through accomplishment. And, the masses recognized them for it!
What about the friends and family I know who are exceptionally smart, and/or excellent at what they do, yet will likely go on through life, never becoming famous for their craft, or having changed the world because of it, yet will likely be perfectly satisfied, just the same? Or how about the trade and service professionals like a construction worker, plumber, waiter or marketing person like myself? How are we ‘changing the world’? Unfortunately, there’s no one plumber or marketing person that comes to mind when I think of this—although I have to admit I am amazed each day at the mechanics of how a toilet fills/flushes, without the assistance of electronics or technology. I bet the person that invented that, most likely a plumber, did not know he/she would change the world as we knew it—but I digress. I suppose the answer is in the question. What world do you live in? What world do you want to change? It could be just your own company’s sales numbers for that year, a new product offering or added services. How will you change it and do you have a clear path to accomplishment? Or will you just keep doing it as best as you can, perfecting your craft with every job performance with consistency, accuracy and excellence? Are you changing the world by learning from your mistakes? Are you sharing your excellence and/or giving back? Will there be a professional legacy left in your absence? What will you champion, lead in, innovate, and/or have a vision for? And, most of all, do you want it? Most entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals do. So, what are you waiting for?
Some inspiring words from Steve Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford in 2005, to work and live by…
I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2-billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation – the Macintosh – a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over five years. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com or call 239.963.9396.