Contributed by Steve Hartman, EAC Board Member

Steve Jobs died yesterday. He will be missed, and never forgotten. You all know who he is. Because of his vision, you may even be reading this on a device designed and produced because of him. But his death gives me pause to dwell on his importance, and his legacy and what lesson I can learn on how he made a difference in our world.

As a designer, I’m very connected to his legacy. I have used Apple products since the late 80s, and today utilize Apple products almost every waking hour of my day. Almost to a point, where these tools are taken for granted. But not quite. I’m still amazed at the design and revolutionary innovation developed by Apple. Its an amazingly successful corporation. Apple built its success on the innovation and design behind their products and their brand. They don’t invent these things, that is true. They re-invent things – computers, phones, mp3 players, reading tablets, etc. But they innovate these devices like nobody’s business. Apple’s brand is all about thinking differently, re-inventing, innovating — using CREATIVITY to develop their product line that continually amazes and delights their growing customers base – millions of them.

But, that’s my real connection. That’s what gives me pause. Its the creativity behind the innovation. The re-invention. The different thought process. Its Creativity that is at the core of this story of success and amazement. How do I get some?

Well. I’m a designer and creative director, so I have a little of this “creativity.” Of course, I know where I got it. And, maybe I always had it, but it was then sparked and fostered by artistic successes though-out my life. My family inspired me, my St. Boniface Elementary School teachers inspired me. Mrs. Harris in fifth grade encouraged my talents. My high school art teacher and fellow EAC board member, Dennis Detoye, had a large impression on me. Then I found and accepted my calling as a designer in college at Eastern Illinois University.

What I wonder is. What was Steve Job’s early education like? Was it filled with creative outlets? Did he have those creative thinkers in school too?

As I ponder the bigger picture. Who is actively innovating their industry. Who are the Steve Jobs of the Legal world, the Medical world, even the Accounting world. Who is dreaming up new ways of doing things, who is re-inventing and re-tooling technologies. Who are the inspired ones, who are undaunted in the face of risk, who take little leaps of faith in thinking differently to change our world for the better?

Who are the ones who teach us to think differently, to lead us down the path of innovation and creativity. And, where will that creativity lead them?

Update: In this essay by Christopher Bonanos, in the New York Times on October 7th, Bonanos shares insight into one man who inspired Steve Jobs. This is great look into how Jobs presented Apple to consumers, and his thoughts on innovation.