Steve Jobs’ Speech from 1980

Quite possibly my favourite Steve Jobs video. Perhaps only his Stanford speech stands above it. The word visionary gets tossed around lightly these days but there is no denying Jobs’ as the genuine article. He gave this speech 4 years before the first Macintosh computer was even launched, yet so much of what he talks about still applies to the modern Apple of today. At a time when computing power was doubling exponentially every year, IBM was intently focused on harnessing that power to broaden the computer’s functionality. In contrast, Jobs was primarily interested in using that power to make the computer easier to use. Think different, indeed.

Is ‘leadership’ old skool?

Umair Haque’s blog post ‘The Builders’ Manifesto‘ is an outstanding read. He surmises that ‘leadership’ is to some degree a by-product of a dying industrial era. Leaders of today know how to govern and navigate what are essentially 20th century organizational structures and economics. As we transition from industrial to information age, Umair sees a future that needs a rethink from the ground-up and thus requires a different skillset than your typical leader. Ironically, one of the better leaders / US Presidents of our time Bill Clinton penned the moniker ‘Building a bridge to the 21st century’. Yet, even Clinton himself is a mere cog in the wheel of that old leadership paradigm and wasn’t so much building a bridge but rather attempting to lead people across a fictitious one. Much in the same way that Haque contrasts Mahatma Gandhi (the builder) vs Barack Obama (the leader).

Today’s builders are igniting the distant grandchild of yesterday’s industrial revolution: an institutional revolution for a post-industrial world. They are forging the new building blocks – from ethical investment, to deep journalism, to socially useful finance, to universally accessible communication – that a rusting economy, society, and polity so urgently demand.

The 21st century doesn’t need more leaders – nor more leadership. Only Builders can kickstart the chain reaction of a better, more authentic kind of prosperity.

I’m not suggesting leadership is easy, but this reminds me of something Thomas Edison said about opportunity; “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Which is the tougher job, editing a book or authoring a new one? Perhaps this explains why the list of wannabe leaders is awfully long and wide, but builders? Not so much.