The best question Steve Jobs ever asked

In the early 1980s, Apple computers became interested in hiring John Sculley away from his position as President at Pepsi. Sculley had done a masterful job in marketing Pepsi Cola and the company was riding an unparalleled wave of popularity. In what is now a famous moment in the history of business, Steve Jobs asked Sculley, “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?”
I think that question might just be the most important question anyone can ask. Do you want to do what you are doing right now or do you want to change the world?
This week Steve Jobs announced he is stepping down from his position at Apple. Cancer has taken its toll on him and he no longer can remain as involved as he would like. He was a visionary and a leader in computers. He did change the way I listened to music by introducing the ipod. He changed the way we consume media. His animation company Pixar made some good movies.
But did he change the world or just sell a bunch of gadgets?
After he is gone won’t his gadgets just go the way of other gadgets that have gone before him. Won’t the ipods, iphones, and ipads just end up on the heap of electronic devices that continue to be replaced by the next thing? He changed the way content is delivered but he never changed what the content was.
You cannot change the world until you change how people think, what they feel, what they want, and the choices they make. You cannot change the world until you change the way people decide to live their lives.
Jobs did change some things but the world will not be fundamentally different because of his electronics. In the end, wasn’t he just selling better versions of electronics? After all, we were consumers before Jobs and we are still consumers now.
Wasn’t he just selling another version of sugared water?
Changing the world means you invest your life in something that will outlast you. Something that really does make a difference. Changing the world is not about selling or buying stuff. As Jesus said, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Job was right to ask his question to Sculley, he just didn’t take it far enough. Do you want to sell stuff (even high end, popular, trendy electronics) or do you want to change the world?


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