Steve Jobs didn’t actually make anything himself.
He wasn’t a designer, an animator, a writer, or an engineer.
But without him none of those guys would have made anything.
Because he made their ideas happen.
Sure, truly creative people come up with wild, exciting ideas.
But unless someone makes it happen, it stays an idea.
And eventually, just like smoke, it dissipates.
Steve Jobs encouraged them to have wild ideas.
The wilder the better.
Then Steve Jobs made those wild ideas happen.
Take the music industry.
MP3 players existed before the iPod.
What was different was Jobs’ clarity of vision.
All the existing MP3 players were really complicated to use.
They were full of buttons and instructions.
More like tiny computers.
Really fiddly and awkward.
Steve Jobs’ vision was to say “The complexity doesn’t belong in the MP3 player. It belongs in the desktop computer.”
And, in that flash of vision, he repositioned the entire market.
All the music downloading would be done on the iMac.
Then the music would be organised, into playlists.
Then they’d be downloaded to the iPod.
So the iPod was as simple as possible, purely for playing.
With just one dial to scroll through the music.
It immediately made everything else obsolete.
In fact the entire system made everything else obsolete.
It was a closed loop.
Because iPods had to be downloaded from iMacs.
So iPods sold iMacs.
Which, in a flash, gave Jobs’ another vision.
He realised he could pull marketing money away from the iMac, a sector where everyone else was competing.
And put it into selling iPods.
He pulled $75 million out of iMac advertising and put it into iPod advertising.
Like he says, the sector didn’t justify a hundredth of that.
But it allowed him to blow all the other MP3s of the water.
Because he was the only manufacturer with a closed-loop system,
he was actually selling iMacs more efficiently by selling iPods.
And he totally dominated the music sector.
Which, in turn, made him able to grow iTunes into a phenomenon.
Because, with that spend, the only music advertising any of the rock celebrities saw was for iPod.
It was bigger than MTV had been.
So no one wanted to be left out.
Because their music was currently being downloaded for free by systems like Napster.
It was costing them a fortune.
If they could get on board the iPod, they’d make money and they’d look cool.
They’d be seen as part of the new wave of music.
People like U2, Bob Dylan, and Mick Jagger began calling Steve Jobs and offering to appear in the advertising for free.
Just to be associated with the iPod.
They wanted the image to rub off on them.
And that’s what Steve Jobs did for the people who make things.
The musicians got to make money from their music.
The designers got to see their innovative designs produced.
The engineers got to see their pipe-dream systems actually built.
All because a bloke who couldn’t play, or design, or build, did something much more important.
He made it all happen.