Leadership passion — the commitment of crazy brand love in powering the direction of business
There are plenty of stories about CEOs that are so crazy in love with the premise of their work that they simply can’t disconnect from the evolving contribution to building their brands. To be a leader (to lead) presumes being “in front.” Being a leader is being the risk taker, the person that walks ahead of the crowed mind of the community that is both employed by the brand and those that are served by its offerings. These features are rightly exemplified by Steve Jobs.
I learned early about that proposition of crazy love for brand — in working directly for Jobs at Apple, the beginning days, as well as progressively through his, and its, evolution in the market (in, out, Next, back in). The key of passion — which is both pain(ful) and the emergence of a semi-, momentarily satisfied pleasure — is a neverending cycle of engagement. Things will never be right. One new sighted vista and plateau merely becomes base camp for the next ascent. There’s always something.
To the gleam in Steve Jobs eyes — that glint of connection to seeing things right — I’ve seen that, and I’ve seen it in many other leaders, over time. Still, it’s only Mr. Jobs that really put his name in such fearsome proximity to the brand. As I’ve noted in earlier blogs on Steve Jobs efforts, as well as talks and presentations on the concept of the human brand — a person, inextricably linked to product brilliance, storytelling, delivery and performance — the key to Steve’s efforts might be in the layering of curiosity, a willingness to listen to, and hold earlier momentous experiences, a sense of innately knowing the market, and building products that not only meet his sense of standard in expertise in product strategy but will be culturally profound.
Apple products are less about the idea of products that are cool, and more about products that innovate action. In keeping with Apple’s storied evolution, there are countless examples of ways in which this brand, ignited by the crazy love of one man — Mr. Jobs. People often ask — with this theory of yours, the idea of the “human brand” — how will the idea of a single person setting the standard relate to where the brand can go, what happens if he, or she, leaves?
The point of the compass pin, demarcating the center, and that person’s place in it will be definitive. The power of that pinpoint center of the circle will come more to the nature of what legacy to innovation and chromosomal brand strategy has been built into those that circle that stand in the radius of that arcing movement. Tim Cook, Jonathan Ive, others, that carry that fire, the spark of crazy brand love that will hopefully continue to ignite the imaginations of billions.
Apple UX, Apple ID, iPod, iTunes, AppleStore, iPhone — these are game transformers — when the world was one way before, then became another: a legacy of inspiration that will be hard to beat. The swinging curve of adaption, knowledge, technological bundling — well designed — and the empowering keys to the kingdom of Apple will make that ring continue to resound. And astound.
I am grateful for the chance to have worked with him, as well as the continuing inspiration that he inflamed in my life and work as a designer.
Onwards, the magic.
THE STRATEGY OF STEVE JOBS
FINDING THE FIRE OF APPLE
Notes on the Human Brand