October of 2011 marks the two-year anniversary of the deaths of two people who have really inspired my life: Steve Jobs (October 5), co-founder of Apple Inc. and Al Davis (October 8), the longtime owner of the Oakland Raiders. Both of these men have become iconic figures in the state of California and were both known as ruthless innovators in their practices. Commanding two of the most notorious fan bases; Raider Nation and Macheads, it was very clear who was in charge of Apple and the Raiders.Deadspin did this great post upon Davis' death, updating the original post they did about Steve Jobs—striking through identifiers about Jobs and adding Davis instead. When you read through the article, you realize how many similarities both men had. Though the Raiders have been on the decline in the past decade of Mr. Davis' life, both men brought success to failing franchises: Jobs when he returned to the company he founded in 1997 and Davis when he hired John Madden in the 60s. Both men were obsessed with being the best at what they do and their craft. For Jobs, it was putting the best product out there. For Davis, it was winning.The Similarities:
I became a Mac user much later than some people. I remember using some Macs before I was 18 but it wasn't until college that I started working in the computer lab of the art building at my college that I fell in love with Macs. I loved the dead-simplicity of them and how the pieces just seemed to fit for what you needed to do. The biggest takeaway from Steve, for me, is to have passion in what you do.What Think Different means to me:
Commitment to Excellence and The Raider Way
I grew up as a Los Angeles Raiders fan and remembering the Bo Jackson era the best. It was later on when I was older that I learned this history of the Oakland Raiders and their owner, Al Davis.Though Al Davis was against the AFL merger initially, he later became supportive of the idea. Consider the Vertical Attack the Raiders' version of Apple's 1984 commercial.Davis' management style was dead simple: He was in control of everything, but would hire great coaches to coach great players, and the rest would work itself out. It really reminds me of Steve's statement of connecting the dots and things working out the way they should.I love Al Davis' philosophies on "The Raider Way":
Al Davis to this day, is still the only only executive in NFL history to be an assistant coach, head coach, general manager, commissioner and owner. He was the first owner to hire a black head coach (Art Shell) in the NFL modern era, the first Latino head coach (Tom Flores), and female CEO (Amy Trasker).Al Davis' Hall of Fame Speech inducting John Madden:
“If somebody wants a chance, Al Davis is the greatest at giving them a chance. There are a lot of people that talk about things and never do anything. Al doesn’t talk at all … He just does it.” —John Madden
A big takeaway from the two for me is that they never cared what other people were doing or what they said. People often interpret this as a negative thing, but it is not. It is merely signal vs. noise. When Apple got rid of the floppy disk and later on the CD drive, people balked. Al Davis never followed trends and did things his way.
Appropriately enough, the 1984 Mac commercial came during a Super bowl won by Al Davis’s Raiders. Here is the commercial and Marcus Allen's iconic Super Bowl run.
My ultimate takeaway from Jobs and Davis?There is something about doing it your way. The Raider Way. The Apple Way. Live your life your way, ignore what others tell you to do and do what you want it with all of your heart.Thank you, Steve and Al, for teaching me to follow your passion, not to live someone else's life and to do things my way.