Nostalgia for the Future. Steve Jobs’ Life Message

The founder of Apple and Pixar passed away today at the age of 56

by Luigino Bruni

Steve_JobsThere are primarily three major messages that this extraordinary man left us.

The first: great innovations in the economy are always related to the people. It is not the capital, money or technology; it is the person who does great innovations. Steve Jobs was able to do things big things because he was a great person, not because he had large amounts of capital and resources. This reminds us that the economy goes forward when there are people who look beyond, seeing different things. Major innovations come from different perspectives on the world and thus from the people.

The second message that Steve Jobs leaves us is that it is not true that businesses are successful when responding to the needs of consumers. The idea that companies and their products had to meet the needs of the people is a little bit scholasticism, static, and above all is not true for innovations that really matter: no one needed an iPhone and an iPad. Steve Jobs with his company created them before they become needs; he invented symbols and created dreams, messages, lifestyles. Large companies that make real innovations are able to do something that no one has thought of before, at least not among the unexpressed needs. An entrepreneur like Jobs “saw” something and then made sure that reality became what he had seen before: it is something that real entrepreneurs have in common with great artists or scientists.

The third message that I think Steve Jobs leaves us is a great praise to life. If we look at the last things he said “the most beautiful and brightest years are ahead of us, not behind us…” He was a very sick man, was dying, and yet was looking forward. To the young people he said: “always be hungry of life.” Great people, capable of great things, are never nostalgic; they always look further ahead and think that the future is better than the past even in times of crisis; they are capable of great optimism and from this gather around such great optimistic projects. Even today, entrepreneurs who move the world are optimistic entrepreneurs, capable of the future, convinced that “the most beautiful is yet to begin.”

In synthesis, Steve Jobs shows us that the great economic innovations also become major civil innovations. His products and philosophy have changed people's lives, the relationship with space, with music and creativity. They have become much more than “good products,” they have moved forward the frontiers and the stakes of civil life. Every great innovation is always a civil innovation that enhances freedom, opportunities, and the ability of the people. He reminds us that the economy is life, that the company is part of the common life that works when it is an expression of creativity, passion, desire for the future: nothing more, but not anything less than life.

I believe that Steve Jobs is a beautiful model as civil employer who makes an economy for the common good, an economy that is truly innovative because it is a friend of the city, and the people. Without this kind of employer there can be no common good. This is why Steve Jobs leaves us a poignant nostalgia for the future.

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