Thank You, Steve Jobs, for “Think different.”

From 1997 to 2002, “Think different.” was Apple’s ad slogan. It showed up in TV commercials, print ads, and posters, and the campaign honored a collection of individuals who were known for thinking different and innovating. The list included Albert Einstein, Jim Henson, Amelia Earhart, Martin Luther King Jr., and Pablo Picasso. The ad agency that created the campaign, Chiat\Day, referred to them as the “Crazy Ones” in the TV commercials which Steve Jobs narrated.

The message is still influential today…

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
● © 1997 Apple Computer, Inc.

Fast forward twenty years, and consider this message. “Think different.” Today, it can have a different ring to it. People who think differently than we do aren’t always seen as innovators. Instead, we see them as, well, different. And different can be bad. It can seem scary. Different can be challenging… especially when dealing with a pandemic, divisions around wearing masks and vaccine rollouts, and anticipating what a return to work will look like. Add to that politics and race, and different can feel very dangerous.

So what do we do with different? How do we handle differences of opinion and those moments where we’re not all on the same page? It comes down to this. We need to enter every situation expecting that people will think different and then looking for the value in each other’s thinking. We need to embrace different and see it as a positive, not a negative – a tool for creating positive change and transformations. We need to step into each other’s shoes and try hard to see the world through their lens. If we can do that, then we will be able to live out what Jobs said in that 1997 ad…

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”


Today, ask yourself this question: Am I more comfortable surrounding myself with people who think just like me, or am I willing to get uncomfortable and learn from people who think different?

If it does make you uncomfortable, lean into the discomfort. There is massive value in bringing together diverse thinkers, especially now as we reinvent ourselves and our businesses coming out of this pandemic. Steve Jobs and the team at Chiat\Day unlocked the power of thinking different. They understood the value of surrounding ourselves with people who don’t think the way we do. Our encouragement to all of us is to embrace the same concept.

Want to watch that original “Think different.” television ad with Steve Jobs? You can view it here.

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