The Real Reason We Can’t Stop Talking About Steve Jobs

Why do we remain so obsessed with Steve Jobs a year after his untimely death?

Sure, a large part is that Jobs was a business legend who built what is now one of the most valuable companies in the world, thanks to innovative, appealing products ranging from Apple‘s Mac and iPod to the iPhone and the iPad. And he was a design whiz, a master marketer, a uniquely demanding leader, a disruptor of industry after industry, a visionary, a dreamer–any of which would warrant close attention during his life.

If he hadn’t been any of those things, and hadn’t done everything he did, we certainly wouldn’t be paying so much attention to him–least of all a year after he succumbed to the ravages of pancreatic cancer. But he’s hardly the only phenomenally accomplished CEO or company founder. So it seems doubtful that’s why many of us, from the press to Apple customers even to people who don’t use Apple products, seem so interested in the man.

I think the biggest reason we can’t hear enough is simply because, like too few other CEOs, he came across as a genuine human being–complete with all the foibles and faults that today’s corporations so often manage to scrub clean from their leaders’ images. (You can certainly argue that he was a jerk, but that this was not hidden in the least is what I mean when I say “genuine.” You knew what you were getting with Jobs.) And this is despite Jobs’s and Apple’s own hermetically sealed environment when it comes to media coverage.

Jobs was fanatical about secrecy for his company’s doings, but his outsized personality defied any attempt to keep a lid on stories of how he operated as a leader, a friend, or even a subject of a random encounter. Plus, he was an inveterate storyteller himself, someone who seemed constitutionally unable to keep himself under wraps. It’s a lesson to business leaders that, while you have to deliver the goods, it also helps your company to show that you’re not just a talking head.

And so on this day when so many people are looking back at Jobs, his legacy and his life, here are a few places to indulge another look at the legend and the man:

* Longtime tech writer and Forbes staffer Connie Guglielmo’s magazine piece on Untold Stories About Steve Jobs.

* In an accompanying piece with videos, friends and colleagues reminiscenses about Jobs.

* A collection of stories on Quora, some from well-known tech figures as well as others who had personal contact with him.

* My own Five Small Stories About Steve Jobs from a year ago.

Read the rest of the list of story collections at The New Persuaders.

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Still Following Apple Playbook, Google Debuts Cute Ads For Nexus 7 Tablet

Adapted from my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

Next to its elegant products, Apple is best known for its iconic advertising–all the way from its famous (or infamous) IBM-baiting “1984” Macintosh ads to its “Think Different” campaign to its minimalist iPod spots. Now Google is borrowing Apple’s marketing mojo to promote its new Nexus 7 tablet computer.

Despite a deserved reputation for not doing many ads for its own products, Google was already making a small name for itself with a few scattered spots–even ones during the Super Bowl in 2011 and 2010–for selected products such as its Chrome browser. Some observers have noted how Apple-like the “Dear Sophie” and “Parisian Love” ads were–Apple’s FaceTime ads and “Get a Mac” ads, in particular, are pretty cute–so Google must have figured it might as well stick with what works.

Today, Google debuted a TV commercial for the Nexus 7 tablet that once again follows the Apple playbook: simple, cute ads with music that walks the edge of heartwarming and treacly. This one has a father and son using the tablet while camping–and if that sounds strange for a device that requires a WiFi connection, well, watch the ad to discover the twist.

Will the ads work? As the Atlantic points out, this one may not work as well as the others for several reasons that have to do with that twist. Others love it.

The only mystery is why Google is running these ads now, when the pricier version of the Nexus 7 is sold out. Yes, a product shortage–another buzz-producing page from Apple’s playbook. But if Google keeps up the high level of emotional connection its ads routinely forge, it seems likely to set its own example for tech advertisers.

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