Aug 11

Here’s to the crazy one

I was searching for the words to describe what I was feeling yesterday when word spread that Steve Jobs was retiring as CEO.

I was very sad, of course — for Steve, his family, the Apple community and the world in general. But I was also heartened by the extraordinary praise being pushed out by the mainstream media.

Then I realized that the most appropriate words for this occasion were written many years ago, with Steve’s enthusiastic approval.

The Crazy Ones commercial that launched the Think different campaign has always been one of Steve’s favorite ad moments. When the spot was first created, he spoke of how deeply it moved him. He has shared it at a number of Apple events. He was emotionally invested in it because he believed it captured the true spirit of Apple, explaining why Apple does what it does.

Interestingly, few have noted that it also captured the essence of Steve himself. Though the ad featured a series of those who changed the world through their “different” thinking, you could just as easily place this script over images of Steve at various points in Apple history:

Here’s to the crazy ones.
    The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
    The round pegs in the square holes.
    The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
    And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
    About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
    They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones,
    we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough
to think they can change the world…

are the ones who do.

Some believe that Steve wrote these words himself. That isn’t true, but he did contribute a few words — and they are arguably the words that best describe his contribution to this world:

They push the human race forward.

That’s exactly what Steve does. Sometimes we go kicking and screaming (“where’s the damn floppy disk!”), sometimes we’re just outright seduced (iPad), but “forward” is where we go.

Though Steve may one day leave Apple for good — remember, he’s still Chairman — his values never will. Innovation is now institutionalized at Apple. Tim Cook’s memo to employees today reaffirms this:

I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.

So on “the day after,” we can be heartened by two things: Steve is still Steve and Apple is still Apple.

There’s still a lot of pushing to be done.

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  • Thanks, Ken. This is a beautiful write-up.

  • Bmcfadden

    Still get chills reading the “Crazy Ones” copy. The only thing that comes close is the hammer toss/shattered video screen in the “1984” superbowl ad.

  • Matt

    Love that spot. The feeling the ad gives me is the feeling I strive for in all the work I do.

  • Scott

    Well said as always Ken. I love the “Crazy Ones” too. I still have my poster set that they gave out free to teachers.

  • ken segall

    @Scott: My son’s school still has those posters hanging in the library. Now that’s long-lasting branding. (And I swear I had nothing to do with it.)

  • Bill

    I loved that campaign. And yeah – I can definitely see Steve Jobs in that ad text. I’ve got I think 2-3 of the think different poster series. Couldn’t pass those up why back when :)

  • Dan

    Interesting. I actually created a desktop wallpaper with Steve’s photo and “Here’s to the crazy ones” poem. It is actually very cool looking – I am a UX designer so thought of creating one.

    I wanted to submit it to desktop picture sites to share with everyone however most good sites won’t accept desktop pictures if it has well known celebrity’s photo.

  • Bill D

    I remember the Crazy Ones well, Ken. Thanks for the reminder and for putting everything in perspective.

  • Neil

    Ken, this is a beautiful piece. Thanks for all you do and for reminding us all about what makes the man and the company loved by so many.

  • Always a surprise to see what Apple comes up with. What’s next?

  • Pingback: Apple: Think Different « Ed Lee's Blogging Me Blogging You | @edlee()

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  • Scott

    This means even more today.