Much has been written about Steve Jobs in the days since his death, and nearly all of the praise heaped upon him has been true. Jobs was indeed a visionary, and he helped transform the ways in which the world consumes media.
What hasn’t been written about as much is Jobs’ human side—his driven personality that often set him at odds with coworkers, his abrupt management style…even rumors of firing employees in elevators only to have a subordinate contact them later to say they could keep their positions.
That’s not to say Steve Jobs was a bad person. But he was human, complete with flaws and prone to make mistakes, just like the rest of us.
Events like Jobs’ passing almost always have lessons that can be applied to the craft Trade Press Services practices: writing.
Like Jobs and every other great leader, great writing has personality. It inspires. It can be visionary. It can stake a course that others say will surely fail, only to succeed beyond expectations. Or it can fail miserably. It can be abrupt, insulting, offensive and sometimes too honest.
Do these statements sound like the people you admire? Like John Kennedy, whose words could drive mankind to set foot on the moon, but whose personal life included secret affairs and private liaisons with movie stars. Or perhaps Martha Stewart, whose business savvy took her to the top of several empires, but who was brought down by greed and scandal.
The lessons that writers can learn from Jobs’ death are not the obvious ones—the ones learned from his commencement addresses and interviews about striving and “going for it.” The lesson for writers is to make sure your writing is alive with personality. Like those who inspire and motivate us, writing must be full of character: frown lines, wrinkles, toothy smiles, unmanageable coifs ala Einstein and Twain, outrageous statements, lies, truths, humor, anger, fear, greed, hate and love. Like the people who inspire us, your writing should be human.
That’s what separated Steve Jobs from other CEOs, many of whom are widely disliked and distrusted in these bad economic times. Jobs was human and was never afraid to show it.