October 05 2011 Steve Jobs, You’ll Be MissedThe brief essay below was written in January 2005 as part of my application to the University of Maryland School of Business (Smith). I am posting it verbatim in honor of Steve Jobs, who passed away today at age 56.
You are planning the course schedule for next year's curriculum. You have the opportunity to choose any individual (living or deceased) to teach one course in any subject matter during your first semester. Which individual would you choose? What would be the subject matter? Why? Please limit to one page.
After tossing and turning all night, I can distinctly remember running downstairs on Christmas morning in 1986. As I reached the bottom step my eyes immediately locked onto the coolest thing that I had ever seen: a brand-new Apple II in my living room! It was my family’s first personal computer and it completely blew my mind. So much has changed about consumer technology since then, yet today I use my Apple iPod today just as much as I used that Apple II. Certainly the staying power of Apple has a lot to do with its leader and while I’m sure it’s exceedingly difficult to pry him away from his role as CEO, I would love the opportunity enroll in a Smith course taught by Steve Jobs.
While most CEOs are focused on achieving their financial and operational goals, and on executing a strategy, it is clear that Jobs believes his company's ultimate advantage comes from its ability to make unique, or as he calls them, "insanely great" products. Moreover, he has repeatedly led Apple in the quest to create such products and has demonstrated just how wildly successful this strategy can be. I admire his drive for greatness and the innovation and business savvy that he brings along with it. In turn, I think it would be incredible to learn more about his business and design tactics firsthand.
In addition to Apple, Jobs has co-founded two other successful businesses, NeXT and Pixar. Despite stiff competition and high barriers to entry he was able to make successful inroads into both the software design and film production industries. In each case Jobs proved that he is a rare leader that can not only weave together form, function and performance with style but can also focus an entire company on that task. Evidently, he believes that communication and the ability to get groups of people working together to bring a new idea to life are keys to success. I would definitely jump at the opportunity to personally hear more about his leadership philosophies.
I have come to admire Jobs for a variety of reasons and I would particularly value a course in which he would explicate his strategic vision and leadership philosophy. As a technology worker and nascent entrepreneur I believe that there is a lot I could learn from him. In addition, I believe that I would genuinely enjoy his teaching style. Jobs is a renowned public speaker with a lot of charisma and I bet he would put on a great show.
I'm Lou Mintzer, an entrepreneur, programmer, speaker, blogger, designer and product builder.Tweets by @LouMintzer