'Real Artists Ship'

The quote above is attributed to Steve Jobs, now the former CEO of Apple. What the quote means is the reason I admire what he has accomplished and will continue to influence as Apple's chairman. More on that below.

Since Job's resignation as CEO, there has been no shortage of commentary, particularly relating to the impact of his move on the share price of Apple stock. I have no opinion about that. I read extensively the writings of those who do have opinions about that, and they are evenly split between the geniuses who state with certainty that there will be little impact and the geniuses who state it will crash and burn.

If Jobs' record of achievement, to date, included nothing more than the Super Bowl spot called "1984," it would be impressive. That's how good the commercial was and how legendary it remains. But he is also listed as the primary or co-inventor of 338 U.S. patents. He acquired a company called Graphics Group, and renamed it Pixar. Its first film was "Toy Story" -- with which, and the films that followed it, he launched the modern computer-animated film industry.



So far he's given us the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Mainly he brought design and technology together and demonstrated what we all talk about when we say "branding."

President Reagan awarded Jobs the National Medal of Technology, Fortune magazine named him the most powerful person in business, and Forbes listed him as one of the most powerful people in the world. Not bad for the adopted son of Paul Jobs and Clara Hagopian.

My own view is that he is the most brilliantly instinctive marketer of our time. That's because he never, ever took his eye off the central tenet of marketing, the thing we often forget as we get more involved in the technology of advanced platforms, and the silos of specialized organizational design: the tenet that says our job is to create value for the end user. Doing that requires an understanding of who the end user is at the core, what he or she needs and wants, not just in product features but in aspiration -- and doing what it takes to fulfill these needs.

"Real artists" do more than imagine and design. They develop, they produce, and "ship."

This balance of vision and discipline, around the deeper needs of the consumer he has always served is the genius of Jobs and his Apple.

The epitome of an entrepreneur and leader is that he or she will take responsibility, take charge and commit to a goal. Entrepreneurs set agendas, they don't react to them.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal,  "An Entrepreneurial Fix For The U.S. Economy," outlined the two authors' views of our best hope for economic recovery.

Steve Jobs must have smiled at this thought, having begun with only an idea about consumer value, and creating from it the world's most valuable technology company.

Who's next?

NOTE: It has been my privilege to share these thoughts with you over the past months. As my commitments have increased, I will now become less of a regular weekly contributor and more of an occasional voice. My thanks for your time and attention -- and especially for your thoughtful feedback.

2 comments about "'Real Artists Ship'".
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  1. Peter Schankowitz from Joe Digital, Inc., August 31, 2011 at 4:41 p.m.

    Well stated. His enduring legacy is bigger than the life-changing gadgets. As Bob DeSena states, it's his process and how that process had the consumer / audience in mind at every stage. Odd how many companies, including the internet portals, fail to embrace that Business 101 concept. THAT was the impetus for each product, for each version tweak, and for the beaucoup to "shipping" that were generated by Jobs' genius and understanding of human demand. And THAT is why we are talking about him in the same breath as those pioneer compatriots of Jobs who did the same 100 years ago. Will it fall apart now? I'm not qualified to know, but my guess is that the same guy who kept his eye on the prize and executed so successfully, just might have surrounded himself with like-minded folks who paid attention to the master.

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network, August 31, 2011 at 5:23 p.m.

    Jobs is a true genius, but the quote "Real artists ship", though interesting, is absolute bull****.

    "Real artists create". Whether it ships or not has nothing to do with it. As Robert R put it; "Rent is the only reality"

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