just confirmed that company founder and recently retired CEO Steve Jobs has died at the age of 56.
I honestly don't know how to react to this news. Steve had obviously had health issues over the years, which is what many people believe led him to step down as CEO, but I didn't anticipate reading about his death just a day after the company he built from the ground up -- twice -- announced the latest revolutionary product with his fingerprints all over it.
I'll always have a special place in my heart for Apple, as it was the first company I worked for out of college. I spent five years of my life as a member of the Apple family, and though retail life wasn't always the best, there was a special kind of joy working for Apple, and a lot of that came from Steve's vision.
I remember the first day I was on Apple's campus for training in Cupertino, and our trainer told us a few things to know about Steve. He said first, above everything else, do not treat him like a celebrity. If you see him on campus, don't run up to him and tell him how much you love him, or how every computer you've ever owned has been a Mac or how the iPod changed your life. On campus, Steve wasn't "Steve Jobs, master of the keynote", he was your boss. Well, technically your boss's boss's boss's boss's boss, but you had to treat him with that kind of respect.
The second thing he told us about Steve gave me incredible insight to how his mind worked when it came to running Apple the company. The trainer told us that once in awhile people would run into Steve and he'd ask them, "What do you do for me?" If you answered with your job title, you'd likely get fired. I can't confirm whether this ever actually happened or not, but to me it said that Steve wasn't the type of person who cared about titles or anything like that. He cared about the process and the results, and that's what makes the products he was in charge of creating so great (the MobileMe story is another great example of that).
Apple, as a company, will remain successful even with Steve gone, I feel confident in predicting that. But it'll never be the same. The world has lost a true genius today.