Tom Ortega II

Steve Jobs Aura

In Business on January 10, 2006 at 1:09 pm
I’ve been watching Steve Jobs keynotes for years now. I’ve marveled at his ability to ahh and wow the audience during his keynotes. I’m not one for public talking and therefore, it’s nice to admire those that do it well.  

For years, I’ve wanted to see the man in action. I’ve heard stories of how he enthralls the room, of how all attendees are sucked into the Steve Jobs reality vortex and transported to Jobsian Nirvana for the 90 minute talk. I wanted to take this little trip with him just once. Today, I finally did.

My impression: It ain’t all that. Now, before all the members of the Steve Jobs Fan Club jump all over me, hear me out. I too am a member, remember? I think the man is a genius! I love the output of both of his companies, Apple and Pixar. However, the Keynote wasn’t as hypnotic as I thought it would be.

Now, granted, I had two distractions. One the guy in front of me who had to keep standing up to take pictures. It wouldn’t have been too bad if each shot didn’t take 10 minutes to take. Then there was the idiot behind me who couldn’t be bothered to either turn down his cell phone’s ringer or just turn it off. You’d think after one call, he’d do something about it. No, instead he was too busy feeling important and wanted, “I’m in the keynote, can you just call back later? [hang up] Geeze, some people.” Yeah, buddy, some people.

Now, without those two distractions, would I have been mystified? I doubt it. Before I rag on Steve, let me comment on his better points:

1. He can relate to the common man. He makes you think he’s just an ordinary schmoe who just happened to be picked to talk about all this new “stuff”. He even calls it “stuff” too, not some technical term, just like Joe Neighbor would call it “stuff”.

2. He’s relaxed in front of the rabid Mac-fans, press, VIPs and countless cameras. I’ve seen very few people who seem generally relaxed in front of crowds. Watching him, you sort of forget how hard it is to public speak, until some other speaker comes on during the show, then it’s obvious.

3. He’s humble…now. I know that wasn’t always the case, but the Steve Jobs of today (literally) gave all the credit for these brilliant products to the engineers that made them a reality. He even made them stand so they could receive their proper accolades from the crowd. And boy did we heap it on them. =) Here’s a little more even: Great job, guys! You rock!

Okay, so there’s some good points for you; Now, onto the criticisms. A lot of you people will think the following, “Well, of course, he’s human, you know.” But that’s my precise point, Steve is not supposed to be human during a keynote, he’s the world’s closest thing to a demi-god to his worshippers in attendance.

1. You don’t know when to clap. A good speaker leads you in the interaction. You should know when to clap and know when you shouldn’t but feel the need to do it anyways. Today’s biggest awkward clap moment was during the .Mac talk. He said, “I’m happy to announce that we now have 1 million subscribers.” He paused…which I suppose was a cue for us to clap so one or two people did. However, since the response wasn’t enthusiastic, he quickly added, “And we expect continued growth in the future.” Another pause. By this time, we all had a clue and applauded. It was just a weird moment and there were several of those.

2. He misspeaks often. The funniest instance of this was when he said “Webshite” instead of “Website”. =) He also seems to get lost in thought sometimes. He never loses focus, but you can tell he tripped over a word or phrase and has to find his way back.

3. The “stuff” is the true magic. What is captivating about his keynotes are the demos and the ads. Now, I know he has a lot of input into those things, so you could say that’s part of his charm. Not really though, it’s the material that knocks your socks off. Whether the material is a new piece of hardware, software or advertisement, Apple has solid “Oh I gotta have that products.” Heck, I even get emotionally misty-eyed during the iLife demos because it usually deals with family themes and I’m a family man.

There you have it. This newbie’s impression of his first Steve Jobs keynote. Maybe he was just off this year. Don’t worry, I’ll give him another chance in June. I’m going to try to make it to the WWDC! =)

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