Steve Jobs Gets a Standing O

The Apple CEO’s resignation has prompted an outpouring of tributes you rarely, if ever, see for corporate executives

Steve Jobs -- no longer the CEO at Apple
Steve Jobs -- no longer the CEO at Apple Image courtesy of Flickr user leolambertini

It will be a long time before we see again a CEO go out with all the attention that Steve Jobs has received from a chorus of worshipful essays, blogs, slideshows and videos in the past 24 hours.

There’s no question Jobs has been that rare thing—an innovator who understood the ripple effect of the cult of personality. He was as much a logo as a CEO. But that doesn’t take away from his accomplishments as a marketer, businessman and trendsetter.

Here’s a smattering of the tributes, in print and images, to Apple’s core:

Tim Fernholz, Good: “He earned his place in the pantheon of American innovators with iconic products like the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He developed a global production system to build the company’s products cheaply and at high quality. iTunes revived the music industry, while the App Store created a whole new software market.”

James Surowiecki, The New Yorker: “Contrary to corporate mythology, most C.E.O.s could be easily replaced, if not by your average Joe, then by your average executive vice-president. But Jobs genuinely earned the label of superstar. He did so by making Apple a company that, time and again over the past decade, created industries out of whole cloth.”

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic: “Making ideas marketable and universal is what Jobs has done for most of his career. Steve Jobs has been called the Edison of our time. That’s even truer than it seems. His genius (not unlike Edison)  is the mainstream application of existing ideas, rather than original invention. ”

Andrew Leonard, Salon: “But for me, Jobs’ career signifies something more primal—his comeback saga is a story of redemption, a fantasy epic in which a great king is toppled, but through force of will and grit and brilliance fights his way all the way back to the throne, and inaugurates an even greater empire. It’s hard to think of parallels. Muhammed Ali, maybe.”

Farhad Manjoo, Slate: “But Jobs’ achievement wasn’t just to transform Apple from a failing enterprise into a staggeringly successful one. More important was how he turned it around—by remaking it from top to bottom, installing a series of brilliant managers, unbeatable processes, and a few guiding business principles that are now permanently baked into its corporate culture.”

Of course, there are a few contrarian views, such as this Advertsing Age piece by Ken Wheaton, “Steve Jobs Isn’t THAT Awesome.” He pulls out some of Jobs’ stumbles, such as his annoying stubborn refusal to allow Adobe Flash in his products. (Then again, Edison had his loony invention of concrete houses.)

But wait, there’s more.

The New York Times pulled together this gallery of Jobs’ patents. And Huffington Post rolled out slideshows of 10 products that defined his career and some of his better quotes. There also are photo collections of Jobs through the years and one on MIT’s Technology Review website, titled “Steve Jobs: Secret Sex Symbol.” The latter comes complete with a soundtrack, the ’70s hit, “Dream Weaver.”  I kid you not.

There are plenty of video snippets out there, but the one that does Jobs the most justice is the commencement speech he delivered at Stanford in 2005.

Or you could just save yourself a lot of clicking and check out Fast Company’s mashup of lines from the Jobs’ lovefest.

So if you happened you get into an elevator and it’s just Steve Jobs in there, what would you say to him?

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