Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated: Steve Jobs

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Photo by Annie Bannanie under Creative Commons License

By M.S. Shah Jahan

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Death is very likely the best invention of life, he said in his Stanford University’s commencement speech in 2005.

Remembering that I will be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

He further said: Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

This was the extract of the speech of a school drop out to the students of Americas one of the most prestigious universities. Stanford is the alma mater of many prominent technology companies including Cisco Systems, Google, Hewlett-Packard, LinkedIn, Netscape Communications, Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems,Varian Associates, Yahoo! and many others.

Yes Stephen Paul Jobs time was limited. Death took him away ultimately at an unexpected moment.

On the 5th of October, there were two statements about his death. His family said: Steve Jobs died peacefully today surrounded by his family. In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family. We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steves illness; a website will be provided for those who wish to offer tributes and memories.”

The statement concluded: “We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve. We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.”

Apple’s board in its statement said: “We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today. Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

No words can adequately express our sadness at Steves death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much. His greatest love was for his wife, Lauren and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts,” the official obituary concluded.

Well, the tech czar is gone away forever. Will you believe me if I say Steve had the rare opportunity of reading his own obituary? You might think this is another ‘Apple magic’ or maybe this guy is kidding. No it is true. Probably, Steve Jobs is the only corporate head to have the displeasure of reading his own obituary. But how?

When Bloomberg, the financial wire agency, decided to update its 17-page stock obituary on Steve Jobs, someone accidentally published it in the process. The story which was meant to be sent to Bloomberg’s internal wire accidentally slipped out to its subscribers. And all hell broke loose!

The man was alive and kicking. The story that ran ‘Hold for release’ – ‘Do not use’ couldn’t actually have been stopped as it was simply too big for global financial markets. The jitters subsided later when the agency promptly retracted it. This is when he said that reports of my death are ‘greatly exaggerated’.

Further, he was a child given for adoption as an unwanted baby of unwed two university students Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian Muslim immigrant. Today on his death the whole world wanted him and mourned for him. What a great achievement in life!

His biological parents met as 23-year-old students at the University of Wisconsin. They were unmarried when his mother, Joanne Schieble, who later became a speech pathologist, fell pregnant in 1954. His father Abdulfattah Jandali, left Syria at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in the US. He became a political science professor and later married Ms Schieble. He is reportedly now serving as the vice president of a casino in Reno, Nevada.

Jandali has said they did not want to put their baby up for adoption, but his girlfriends parents would not initially allow her to marry an Arab. Under pressure from her parents and fearing scandal, Ms Schieble travelled to San Francisco to have the baby. Without telling me, Joanne upped and left to move to San Francisco to have the baby without anyone knowing, including me,” Mr Jandali, who never met his son, said in August. He described Ms Schiebles father as a tyrant.

Steven Paul Jobs as his American adoptive parents named him, was born on 24 February, 1955. His parents made a news paper advertisement in San Francisco offering the baby for adoption not for money. Many applied. Middle class Paul and Clara Jobs who were unable to have children were selected. The only condition laid down was the child must have a university education which Paul and Clara accepted. But did Steve ever enter a university? Yes, he did enter a few universities to give lectures, to teach the students but not to learn.

Contrary to his biological parents passion for studies, Steve was quite disinterested and his world was different. He never graduated from college, in fact, he didn’t even get close. After his high school in Cupertino, California Jobs enrolled in Reed College in 1972. He stayed at Reed, a liberal arts university, for only one semester, dropping out quickly due to the financial burden the private school’s steep tuition fees placed on his parents.

In his famous 2005 commencement speech to Stanford University, Jobs said of his time at Reed: “It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5 cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.”

Besides, Paul Jobs was a machinist for a firm that made lasers in what became Silicon Valley, in Northern California. He led a financially tough life. Steve described him as a genius with his hands and said the only thing he wanted to pass on to his own children was to try to be as good a father to them as my father was to me.

Though Steve did not know until much later, Abdulfattah Jandali later married Joanne Schieble and had another child, Mona, in 1957, whom they kept. Steve Jobs discovered he had a biological sister, the successful novelist Mona Simpson, at the age of 27. In 1997, he described Mona Simpson as one of my best friends in the world. Nevertheless, he was dismissive of his biological parents. ”They were my parents,” he said, referring to Paul and Clara Jobs.

Steve visited India in search of spiritual enlightenment and returned as a Buddhist with his head shaven and wearing traditional Indian clothing. He became a vegetarian too.

Steve met his present wife Laurene Powell while speaking at Stanford University. They married in 1991 in a Buddhist ceremony presided over by the Zen Buddhist monk Kobun Chino Otogowa of Japan in Yosemite National Park and have three children.

Steve, as a child who had not seen the faces of his biological parents, put his own daughter into the same situation. He denied paternity to Lisa Brennan-Jobs, born in 1978 from his relationship with Chrisann Brennan, also his class mate, saying he was sterile. Two mistakes were committed by him: Denying paternity he told a lie against his conscience. By arguing he was sterile, he unjustly disgraced a woman by implying that the babys father could be someone else.

He eventually acknowledged that Lisa Brennan-Jobs was his own daughter and she lived with him as a teenager. He also supported her university education.

In an interview with BusinessWeek in 2004, he said: “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and everyone should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief and then you die, you know? So this is what we’ve chosen to do with our life. We could be sitting in a monastery somewhere in Japan. We could be out sailing. Some of the [executive team] could be playing golf. They could be running other companies. And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it’d better be damn good.”

A month ago, holding iPad in hand, I said Steve may not last long as his health looked ruined. But I never thought death will come to him so soon. I’m so shocked. No doubt the guy who gave us a touch pad, touched everybody’s heart on his death.

It is a tribute to you, Steve, to write your story on what you invented and introduced – the iPad.

With tears,

Goodbye Steve!

M.S. Shah Jahan, is the CEO of Taipan Trading Company, a Gem and Precious Stone Consultancy Company based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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