Thank You Steve Jobs: Why Join the Navy When You Can be a Pirate?

Posted on October 6, 2011. Filed under: Differentiated Messaging, Management Concepts | Tags: , , , , |

“Thank you Steve Jobs.”  This content with this hashtag froze Twitter today.  I daresay, since the launch of Twitter, nothing has prompted so many millions of people to tweet, to retweet, to have the need to talk about an event, as has the passing of Steve Jobs. In my own opinion, the world lost a brilliant individual yesterday. His passion for innovation, excellence, and development of the “coolest” products is felt by me everyone (yes, I’m a Mac) and will be felt for many generations to come. But what about him inspired so many people?  I’m bringing back a post that I first wrote about a year ago.  It, to me, sums up what I’ll take from Steve Jobs…to be proud of being different.  Read on and, in honor of Mr. Jobs, find what makes you or your company different and go for it!


“Why join the Navy if you can be a pirate?” It’s a quote from Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. Jobs is universally recognized for his brilliant planning, bold statements, and charismatic keynotes unveiling the latest and greatest Apple has. (If you’ve never seen one of his keynotes, Google them; they are pretty entertaining.)

But Jobs is best known for leading Apple from market flunky status to market icon status. His willingness to be a pirate in the marketplace, versus joining the Navy, has led to Apple’s reputation of innovation. What would Apple be if it had gone the path of the PC world…if it had given up and said, “‘Me too’ is a high-enough goal for us?” I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have had the raving advocacy, the market growth, or the investor return we’ve all witnessed. It would have become one in the masses or, worse yet, gone into extinction. Instead, it’s a household name.

What is the key to Apple’s success? In my opinion, there are several:

1. Apple wasn’t afraid to be different; in fact, it embraced its uniqueness and staked a claim in its market for that uniqueness.

2. The company looked for what made it different – innovation – and used that to its advantage as a differentiator.

3. Apple made a decision to live and breathe its differentiator in every part of its company and customer experience, from its products to its advertising to its stores and employees. Have you ever bought something at the Apple store? You don’t go to a cash register…your card is swiped on a handheld device! You don’t get a mandatory paper receipt…you get an email receipt! Even the normally-mundane purchase process is innovative.

Find out what makes you or your company different. Then determine how it helps your customers. Does your speed to market give your clients a competitive advantage? Does the insight you bring to the table put your customers in a better place to foresee market changes and proactively prepare for them? Whatever your differentiator, find it, determine how it benefits your clients, then use it to your advantage…in your communications, your sales conversations, your customer experience.

Arrgh! Go on, be a pirate!


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