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Steve Jobs and the Essence of America

When I heard today that Steve Jobs was resigning, I noticed tears welling up in my eyes. It is not that Steve was the “greatest CEO of all time” as MSNBC says he was. It was not that he resurrected a company that was once in danger of going under and worth only $10 million—later to become the most valued company in the United States. It was not that Steve knew how to run a corporation correctly (it has a market capitalization of $400 billion and has $78 billion in cash, not debt.)

And it was not that Steve had a sense of what his employees needed and that he was empathic, gave them a luxurious campus, benefits, a gourmet cafeteria, and asked no more of them than to give their all and to be as creative as they could.

No, it boils to down to something far simpler. Steve Jobs made me happy!

He made me excited about my world. He made me say “Wow” a thousand times: the first time I printed a document on a laser printer; the first time I played a video game; the first time I saw an animated feature with such realism and detail I couldn’t believe my eyes; the first time I took my Mac Classic and actually worked on a computer; the first time I ever pasted a photo into a document and saved it as a pdf; the first time I ever downloaded a jazz tune and played it on my computer; the first time I ever watched a movie on my computer.

I can’t list the number of times Steve Jobs’ creativity, genius, spirit, and intelligence energized my life. He was one of America’s most distinguished college dropouts (He left Reed College in his freshman year).

If America is about becoming your potential and becoming all that you really are, Steve Jobs— without a BA and merely following his “bliss”—exemplifies the essence of being an American: to  be all that you can be, without class, without pedigree, without a string of degrees or credentials trailing behind you.

Just be the best that you can at what you do, and all will follow. That is the message of America. That is Steve Jobs!

Most recently, he gave me the Ipad, and I can read books, underline them, leave notes in the margins, and retrieve information I’ve underlined in an instant. And my books cost half what the hard cover versions used to be.

He gave me a doorway into my own future and my own creativity. Without Steve Jobs, I wouldn’t be what I myself have become. How many of us can say that?

I salute that he never appeared in suit and tie. I salute that he represented people, life, living, play, genius, and creativity, not corporate greed, ritual, atomization, custom, convention, conformity, and the status quo.

Steve Jobs was the sixties incarnate. He was everything that the sixties was about, and he touched my life as he touched millions of lives across this planet.

If there were a Nobel prize for corporate geniuses, Steve Jobs would be invited to Oslo, and I would be glued to my television to hear every word he had to say.

I wish him good health and hope he can survive his greatest challenge that lies ahead.

Jerry Kroth, Ph.D. is an Associate professor emeritus from Santa Clara University and may be contacted at collectivepsych.com