01 July 2015

How Steve Jobs taught us to poke life

Steve Jobs is in our lives every day. He's in our hands, on our desks, on the sofa with us when we watch House of Cards, and soon we'll probably all be wearing him on our wrists. Jobs' ideas and execution of technology have literally changed the way we live. But at Everywhere, he's with us in more than the technology we use. We find inspiration in his view on life — not just his impact on it.

I'm particularly stuck on excerpts from a 60-minute interview Jobs gave in 1995 to the Silicon Valley Historical Association, in which they asked him to offer up advice to young entrepreneurs.

There are clips from this on YouTube, and when watching the one of our favourite, you can see other excerpts to its right

Our favourite quote from this short section is as follows:

Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

I first saw this clip just after Jobs passed away in 2011. He goes on to encourage the viewer to "shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you're just going to live in it," and this really resonated with me. Because at Everywhere it's just this kind of active approach that's seen us grow from being two designers wanting to create beautiful design, to a team of designers and developers who all want to make users' lives a little easier.

And that active approach continues. At the moment, for example, we're evolving the types of projects we're working on, moving to longer-term engagements of between six and 12 months. Luckily the brands, companies and startups that we work with now seem to have a bigger vision and we've already experienced how working in this way allows us to get even more fully immersed in the simple, powerful digital services and tools that we create.

Why are we pushing to work more in this way? Well, take a look at some of the companies that are completely reinventing industries and sectors — or creating new ones. Think Uber, Airbnb and Dropbox. They're using digital to drive some of the biggest changes to the accepted ways things currently work. They've looked at an industry and decided things don't have to be the way they are, and with some hard work and a bit of good fortune, they've started revolutions.

But it takes time to design and develop products and services with the impact of Uber or Airbnb. So, both as people and as a company, these industry- and life-changing solutions are what we want to be working towards, and the kinds of problems we want to be solving.

Just as Jobs talked about:

The minute you understand that you can poke life, and that if you push something in, something will pop out the other side. That you can change it and you can mould it…that's maybe the most important thing… Embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it. Once you learn that, you'll want to change life and make it better. You'll never be the same again.

We feel that a big step towards this operationally is to work an agile process, so that we start small and build upon ideas in close collaboration with our clients. Of course, at the point of gaining user feedback, things get really exciting, but this way of working is undoubtedly leading to the most inspiring and rewarding projects we've worked on to date.

Going forward, we'd of course like to be involved with creating a service that could have a lasting impact on the way people experience life online. I'm not sure what that is yet, but I keep Jobs' words percolating away in my mind always, knowing that Everywhere is more open than ever to poking life — and to seeing what pops out the other side.