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The Shawshank Redemption and Steve Jobs
by William Volk on 10/06/11 05:40:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

There are going to be 1000's of blog stories about Steve Jobs because there was so much to the man.  He changed the world and in my case, made my career possible.  From my first published game on the Apple II in 1980 to my current work on the iPhone.  

But personally there's something in Mr. Jobs' life that has always resonated with me so very strongly.  

Steve Jobs left Apple Computer in 1985.  In fact he was fired from Apple.  Here's what he had to say about that:

“I feel like somebody just punched me in the stomach and knocked all my wind out. I’m only 30 years old and I want to have a chance to continue creating things. I know I’ve got at least one more great computer in me. And Apple is not going to give me a chance to do that.” – Playboy, 1987

If you have ever felt wrongly judged, this has to resonate with you.  Perhaps it was a company where you thought you were doing great work and were fired unjustly.  Maybe it was a spouse who just lost faith in you.  Or maybe you were wrongly accused of something you didn't do.

In "The Shawshank Redemption" Andy Dufresne is a young and successful banker who is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover, a crime he did not do.

This is one of my favorite films.  Why?  Because in the end the good guys win.  In fact I can't think of a single film with a more satisfying conclusion than Shawshank.  

When things were especially difficult in my life, when it seemed the tables had turned against me, this quote always centered me:

"Get busy living, or get busy dying." - Andy Dufresne

That's what Steve did after he was kicked out of Apple, the company he had co-founded.  He got busy living.  First with NeXT Computer, which while not a huge business success, did change the world of computing ... the very World Wide Web you are reading this on was created by Tim Berners-Lee on a NeXT Computer in 1991.  Then he went onto Pixar where the first fully 3D rendered feature film success, A Toy Story, was created.

But nothing, not in any film or novel, compares to the "I told you so" triumph of Jobs' return to Apple in 1997.

Apple was truly on the ropes in 1997.  At the time Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computers had this to say about Apple:

"What would I do?" Mr. Dell said to an audience of several thousand information technology managers. "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."

What happened next has been well documented.  The iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad were wild successes.  Jobs didn't just win product categories, he created entirely NEW product categories.  Was there even any sort of tablet market before the iPad?  

For me, a lifelong video game guy, the iPhone app store created the first 'meritocracy' for games ... a place where anyone could come up with the next cool app, and get rewarded for it.

So when I think of Steve, I think of how he proved everyone who wrote him off wrong.  It has motivated me during the last decade to make great things happen.

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” - Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address

Thank you Mr. Jobs


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