He challenged us to think differently, to live differently, to do business differently. Steve Jobs will forever be known as a visionary who transformed our culture and our world.
But Jobs’ greatest legacy isn’t just that he changed the way we live; it’s that he left us with the inspiration to push ourselves to change the way we do things.
Countless news articles and broadcast stories since his death have asked the question: Who will be the next Steve Jobs? Others have asked if it’s even possible to replicate his brilliant and innovative mind. Can the entrepreneurial spirit he brought to the entertainment, computer and communications industries be translated across other industries?
I say a resounding yes.
As leaders in our industry, we have a lot to learn from Jobs. He did what we strive to do every day. He broke barriers and drove change. He exuded creativity and confidence, set the bar high, and became the pioneer in his industry.
At the beginning of the iPod, iPhone, iPad phase, Jobs reportedly described his philosophy as trying to make products that “intersected” art and technology. He helped ignite the desire of the consumer to buy a product viewed as indispensible to daily life, and he briefly turned Apple into the world’s most valuable company.
He’s been described over the last few weeks as an innovative disrupter; a man with unbridled confidence; a rebel; an individual with disdain for the status quo. Package those things, and we’ve got ourselves a direct challenge. We’ve seen what he could do. Now it’s time to show what we can do.
Over the years, The Council has drawn some parallels in the commercial insurance industry. We’ve stood up and raised Cain on things like countersignature and producer licensing reform, and we’ve taken the charge on the LexisNexis Insurance Exchange and continue to fight for surplus lines reform. But there are other lessons to be learned—leadership lessons. Jobs wasn’t the inventor—he (and I’m almost embarrassed to use the word) “simply” envisioned change and led others to the well so they could transform his ideas into reality.
How, in this age, can we afford not to be visionary? With tough economic times and issues such as healthcare reform occupying our time and energy (and your clients’) on a daily basis, how can we afford not to push ourselves to the next level, to shape our businesses and adapt to the changing landscape? We must work harder to create a demand for the value of what we do.
We have been an industry so steeped in tradition that we are often resistant to change. That’s not a dig. It’s just reality. Insurance is a different beast than entertainment and communications, and our industry has long lagged behind technological (and other) advancements. Granted, we’ve made some progress in recent years and have become more efficient in various aspects of the job, but we still have a long way to go.
I read an article recently that said we should use Jobs’ achievements as inspiration to raise our own game. This is the legacy—the challenge—he left behind for all of us. I talk a lot about change, but I truly believe that, if we accept his challenge, we can turn our industry upside down and shatter the status quo.
Steve Jobs challenged us to think different. Our challenge now is to think forward. Don’t settle.