All day, every day, we are on our Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Everything we make for our clients happens on a Mac. Standards, like various web standards, video compression standards… even our own “design standards,” are results of Steve’s influence.

But forget all that.

Blue Ocean Ideas would not exist without Steve Jobs because the way we think, the way we see the world, even the way we define a brand is because of Steve. In other words, Steve’s leadership is found in the very essence of who we are as an organization, and who Greg and I are as leaders.

Here is some of Steve’s wisdom that has shaped who we are:

  • “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
  • “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”
  • “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”
  • “Focus is about saying no. And the result of that focus is going to be some really great products. Where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.”
  • “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Steve the innovator was also Steve the marketer. Apple’s iconic “Think Different” ad campaign started when Steve returned to Apple in 1997. This was it’s core copy:

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.

Steve gave me and gave Blue Ocean Ideas a kind of permission and freedom to pursue this.

Personally, I can’t imagine what life would be like without Steve Jobs’ influence on the world. If you use Apple products, you know what I mean. Really, I can’t imagine life without Steve’s products. What I imagine would be a little more chaotic, a little less enjoyable, and a little less important. Which is why I’m a little scared of a future without Steve. Steve created a standard I could trust. Steve had the clout to change things for the better by my own definition of “better.” Steve gave me hope.

I didn’t think all of this until I was driven to tears by the news of his death.

I will be forever grateful for Steve. And I’m reminded to be forever grateful of the hope I have that isn’t Steve, that transcends Steve, and that endures.

P.S. For the best tribute I read last night, see Simon Sinek’s comments here.