On June 10, 2002, an Apple commercial with my face on it first aired on Comedy Central after the first block of South Park. It hit CNN the next morning, and my phone started ringing with calls from people I hadn’t heard from in years. “Do you have a twin brother?” they asked. No, no twin. Just me. Steve picked me.
I was in the first round of “Switchers,” the short-run campaign that offered stories of real users of Apple products. Me, Aaron Adams, Dave Haxton, Dianne Druyff, Liza Richardson, Mark Frauenfelder, and Patrick Gant made up the first run of regular users, Will Ferrell, Yo-Yo Ma, De La Soul, and Tony Hawk making up some of the celebrity users.
Apple flew us to Boston and LA, handed us over to Errol Morris who filmed us for hours and hours talking into the camera in that hot-as-the-sun white warehouse. And then we finished. They took the film (yes, film), carted it back to Cupertino, and shipped us home.
I switched back to Macs in March of 2002. That’s when I started using media again. I was a mid-level director at a big company, stuck in a monumental rut. But I switched to Mac and found a way out. I discovered what I could do with technology again, what it meant to create.
August 1, 2007 I quit that job to freelance. And I did it because Apple software and hardware became a catalyst for me to take a renewed control over my career. And every time I think about that, not so deep in the back of my mind, I thank Steve Jobs. He represents something bigger than a man, a leader and inventor. He’s a representation of what we can become when confronted with tragedy and evolve through it. Watching Steve Jobs taught me not only to ask “what if…” but to find the courage to act on the answer.
The folks I worked with in Apple advertising were very kind. They had told me time and again that all these were subject to “Apple approval.” I’d asked if that meant that the footage would cross Steve’s desk. “All of it,” they said.
That morning in 2002, Patrick Gant called me on the phone and said, “Go check out apple.com. Prepare to be blown away.” For some reason, out of all the switchers to cross that white warehouse stage, of all the stories of how people use these tools, of all the posing and preening and crowing about the gear, for some reason, Steve picked me.
I never got to meet Steve Jobs. I wish, more than anything, I’d had a chance to shake his hand and say all this to his face. In some small part, I think I’ve been holding out hope that one day I’d still get the chance to do so. Now, I’ll just have to trust that this message, along with messages from the rest of us Switchers, and the millions and millions of people around the world sharing their own thoughts, will reach those who need to hear it.
Steve, what you brought to the world changed my life. What you leave in your wake is a fantastic canvas. I’ll do my best to never stop asking “what if,” and to find the courage to create.