Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's Steve Jobs gotz to do with it?

I didn't want to jump on the Steve Jobs bandwagon right after he died but I knew I had to say something about the man. First of all, you have to understand something about me. I work in the space of digital interaction design. I am definitely part nerd. New Balance close your ears. Nerds are probably not on the top 10 for sponsorship. I have been an Apple fan since my college days and I still have these awesome items in my house. My wife wishes we didn't.
Apple Newton, 1984 Apple Mac & Apple eMate

There is no doubt that Steve was a visionary and that he did that magical thing in business which is to actually show people what they need and then shape new behaviors. A very cool man. My thoughts go out to his family. I didn't know Steve had a connection to New Balance. All the times I have seen him roll-out new products and I didn't once identify a pair of 991's on his feet. I'm not sure if Steve did any running in his life. I couldn't find any evidence of that.

Steve Jobs wearing New Balance 991's
After making this timely connection between Steve, running and New Balance, I started to think about some of the stuff that Steve said. A good reference point is the Stanford Commencement Speech. You have probably seen it but if you haven't, you should. It is definitely inspirational. The key themes to his quotes that talk about life in general are:
  • You have to take leaps of faith.
  • You have to go after what you want and not settle for less.
  • You have to trust that there is a path even though you can't see it at the time.
  • You have to persevere. Great losses can lead to even bigger breakthroughs.
  • You have to love what you do in order to sustain your passion for it.
  • You have to live life and not worry about the rules and expectations of others.
  • You have to live life like every day is your last and not be concerned with pride or embarrassment or other things that will hold you back.
  • You have to be able to go to the grave and say "I did something wonderful."
Most people would agree with all of this in principle. The trouble is, it's so bloody hard to do. Steve was a kid who had nothing when he dropped out of college. He wasn't a 42 year old with 3 kids and the primary bread winner for his family. Even when he was fired he was filthy rich. That's a cynical view of it. The spirit of what Steve is talking about is totally valid. My wife and I like our life. I like my job. Even so, I have talked to her about hating life's rules and routines. I tell her that I want life to be an adventure and I want to instill a sense of adventure in the kids. One of the adventures that I have pitched quite a bit is New Zealand. If it wasn't so far away from family, I would move there tomorrow. If life is short, why wouldn't we live in the most beautiful place on the planet? If I lived there, I would want a simpler, less complicated life. When I was a kid, my parents almost moved to New Zealand. We sold our house in Wales and we were ready to go. I was robbed of the experience when there was some union issue. I feel like there is a New Zealand Simon out there. He's probably just as foolish as me but I so desperately want to meet him. Maybe I need to think bigger in life. Maybe I need to pull the things I am passionate about together into a master plan. Something truly aspirational. New Balance... how about this:

A New Balance in New Zealand
An unremarkable man runs in a remarkable place wearing New Balance shoes. It would basically be a multi-episode experience in New Zealand (and maybe beyond New Zealand) that talks about the semi-religious experience of running. It would be beautifully and artistically shot. It would be truly emotional and uplifting. There would be jaw dropping runs that are run by me. A regular person. Moments like that should not be for elites. They should be accessible to everyone. How better to emphasize the "Love" component of "The New Balance?" We could even do a partnership with the New Zealand Tourism Board. They have a lot of passion selling their country.

I love the sound of this idea. I'd give up my job to go do that in a second. Who wouldn't? Thanks for the inspiration Steve. You gave me my first pitch idea for New Balance. New Balance what do you think?

Goodbye Steve. Your life was remarkable. You went to the grave being able to say that you did something wonderful. You've also made me believe that maybe I can have a taste of the same. Thanks for the many gifts you have given me. I won't be alone in missing you. You helped to make life an adventure.

If you want to check out Steve's Stanford speech, here it is: 


  1. If NB sends you to New Zealand then I'm going with you as your personal trainer. :)

  2. Man, if New Balance would send me to New Zealand, all would be well with the World. If such a miracle is to occur, I promise you that I will request your coaching services. Deal?

  3. It's a DEAL. I will coach and/or hold the camera. Have you ever seen a documentary called "Long Way Round" with Ewan McGregor? That's food for thought. :)

  4. I like this movie. I'd like to watch the whole thing. In our movie, there would be more action and less standing around shooting the shit but I do like the reality of it. Maybe there is a mix of documentary style footage and running candy. Maybe we connect with a top runner of that country? Maybe a celeb who likes running in that country? I need to start an on-going post where I am capturing these ideas for New Balance. As long as you don't upstage me with your higher level of fitness, your superior running and your rock star hair, I think it's a good idea.


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