Steve Jobs is sometimes compared to the Roman general and later ruler Julius Caesar. Each played by his own respective set of rules, and typically went against the conventional wisdom. But the truth is that Caesar was a late bloomer, who didn’t really get the ball rolling with his military and political ambitions until he was practically middle age (at least by the Roman standards of the day).
Thus a fairer and more accurate comparison historically might be made between Jobs and Alexander the Great. The contrast is that Alexander did his best work before he was 30, and was dead at 32. Of course Jobs faced a possible death – at least career wise – at age 30 when he was “relieved” of his position at Apple.
But today we are so used to the older (and to some wiser) Steve Jobs on stage that is hard to remember that he has always been a technology visionary. Even if you don’t always agree with his notion of where technology is headed, or should be headed, it is hard not to appreciate that Jobs has had his vision since his youth. This should certainly be something for today’s Generation Y and the Millennials to think about. And more importantly Jobs isn’t alone.
Bill Gates was also a young man when he dropped out of Harvard to launch Microsoft. And consider that Mark Zuckerberg is also quite young. His name might not be as familiar as Gates or Jobs, but you know his work – and chances are if you are a member of Generation Y you know it very well. Zuckerberg is among the youngest billionaires in the world, and more importantly along with Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin and Chris Hughes founded Facebook.
And consider that Sean Parker was also just 20 when he created Napster and turned the music world on its ears! Since that time Parker, as an elder statesman of the technology world whilst in his late 20s, acted as a consultant to the Zuckerberg crew and went on to be president of Facebook.
Then there is Peter Thiel, the German born jack-of-all-trades, who had practiced law and later traded derivatives. While a member of Generation X, Theil was 30 years old (almost an old man in tech years) when he co-founded PayPal, only to later sell it to eBay.
The moral of this story is not to waste time. Alexander the Great didn’t waste any time getting started, and while he did die at 32, consider that at the time the average life expectancy wasn’t much beyond 40. And for a man who campaigned across half the known world, he lived the life of a rock star, day laborer and professional athlete all rolled into one. Jobs on the other hand, has been a bit more laid back, but he has his own health issues – so clearly he wastes no time when it comes to rolling out his vision.