In Pursuit of Perfection

If Steve Jobs were around, he would have turned fifty seven last week.  Jobs, one of the most famous men who walked our planet, began his rendezvous with computers in the garage of his humble home in California. His passion for electronics and his understanding of the arts found their culmination in the unique creations of his company.

It is said that if one takes care of the details, the big picture will take care of itself. Young Jobs learnt this mantra from his dad who was a car mechanic. His dad insisted that one should work carefully on every aspect of a project and use parts of good quality even if they were not visible to the naked eye. Later on in life, he ensured that even the screws of his Apple products were well plated though no one was likely to see them with the exception of the repairman! One can well imagine the pride he took in his work when he made the entire team sign on a sheet of paper and enclosed it in the Macintosh!

‘Never judge a book by its cover’, goes a popular adage. Mike Markkula, a father figure to Jobs, made him believe otherwise. Jobs understood the importance of presentation in a competitive market. He not only started paying attention to the packaging and the labelling of his products but also shed his hippie looks and gave up on barefooted jaunts at work!

It would surprise you to know that Jobs never really cared for power point presentations because he thought if a person is thorough with the subject, then there would be really no need for any electronic prompting.

His company had its share of failures and setbacks. None of it would faze Jobs and he would not hesitate to begin from scratch. He possessed the art of turning every setback into an opportunity.

There was a time when he was alienated from his company because of his temperamental nature. It was during this time that he translated his dream of uniting the sciences and the arts by venturing into film making and making ‘Toy Story’, a fabulous animated film.

Later on he also paid a rich tribute to the world of music by launching the iPod, which could hold innumerable songs, and an iTunes store to sell music legally at a nominal price.

Jobs set great store by simplicity and simplifying. He got the best compliment ever for his implicit faith in Zen-like simplicity when Noer of Forbes wrote about a six-year-old illiterate stable boy in Colombia who used the Apple iPad without any kind of initiation. His belief that “simplicity is the greatest form of sophistication” guided him in his journey which has made the world tarry a split second to ensure the context and meaning of the word Apple, whenever it is mentioned.

Expert Eye

 Steve Jobs learnt to pay attention to basic details from his father.

The other day, I tagged along with my mother, when she went shopping for some gold with a friend’s family. Her approval is sought after in the family and friends circle, thanks to her good taste, eye for detail and thrifty economic sense.

The models in the market were

numerous, unique and wondrous. They zeroed in on some of the designs and laid it out for the expert’s approval. She duly unscrewed each ear stud and

examined it before rejecting them.  When this exercise was repeated more than once, no one else except the shop attendant seemed to be bothered much.

The hassled assistant said that we sidelined exotic designs and seemed to be more concerned about the stem and the screw which would anyway be concealed behind the lobe of the ear. His barbed remark sent a ripple of discomfort amongst us.

However, my mother was unfazed. She gently said that the stem and the screw of the beautiful and valuable pieces have to be sturdy. It was imperative that the stem should be integrated firmly at a pivotal point of the stud and should hove matching grooves to hold the threading on the screws securely. Hence, she said that a mandatory check on the requisite features is a must before investing a handsome sum on an exquisite piece of jewellery.

Even as she said this, the goldsmith across the counter chimed in and said that the students in the subject had to prove their skills by turning out perfect screws, hooks and rounded beads before being led into the path of creativity.

A fellow shopper mentioned how Steve Jobs learnt to pay attention to basic details from his father which went a long way in helping him make world class gadgets. Another person said that skyscrapers can stand tall only when based on a strong foundation which invariably remains concealed.

An elderly matron who sat alongside nodded in agreement and said that the sartorial world also judged expertise of the tailor by turning garments inside out and checking the tension of the stitches.

I too recollected that my craft teacher would evaluate our embroidery after inspecting the reverse side of the work.

It was heartening to note that there were so many people who were aware of the importance of what is not necessarily showcased in the big picture. Strangely, the pathos of the lines “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.” struck me like a bolt from the blue. The lines can be rendered obsolete if only everyone learns to appreciate the importance of sound fundamentals for a job to be well done.