What does Think Different really mean?
Artists dance between chasing their own ideas while respecting that others may have a different perspective. We all Think Different, but where does this all come from and where is it going?
This twisting of simple words struck me hard about a year ago. Recognizing that how a piece is presented (McDonalds vs. Ritz Carlton; $22 vs. $22,000) shapes how we perceive it, I started reading. Seth Godin’s book The Purple Cow hits the high notes from the title onward, so I moved on his This is Marketing which propelled me to spend $450 for his online course The Marketing Seminar. Like you, I never considered spending so much on an online course, but I also agreed with him — I will give and expect more on a course that is 10X.
The course heavily leverages group discusssion, and I was thankful to find a lot of the students were just like me…creative people trying to re-shape the world, while also hoping to make enough along the way to continue growing and learning as a person.
In Lesson 18 (of 60) titled People like us do things like this was when someone hoisted the Apple flag. It was the first time I’d ever seen Apple’s Super Bowl commercial from 1984 and I watched it over and over, mesmerized. Before I share my own opinion though, here is the video.
What did you notice? All the male prisoners are awakened by the ‘Hooters Girl’? Is that an iPod on her hip at 0:44? The first generation iPod wasn’t released until 2001 [link]! Did the intro remind you of the Matrix? Did Silence of the Lambs (1991) or DC Comic’s Bane steal the idea of a particularly crazy guy needing to wear a mouth cover from that guy at 0:09? What is the symbolism of ‘the big head’ wearing mirrored sunglasses, while the enforcers are all faceless…if the eyes are the window to the soul then….
Watching it over and over intrigued and horrified, I viewed everything I saw from the perspective that Apple had 10s of people and spent millions tailoring every detail to their ideals. All these details mattered to someone.
Back to why I think the perspective gained from this video is important. In The Marketing Seminar, just like the flashing explosion of the big head, from that first little green-screened yellowy plastic box, people believed that Apple has been helping them…think different… illuminating their alternative path and enabling them to pursue their dreams as artists, innovators, and ponderers. This perspective, echoed by numerous others in the seminar left me dumbfounded.
I prefer Apple products. I appreciate the simplicity (and silent power) of Keynote over Powerpoint and Pages over Word. I appreciate how Apple changed their stores at the mall to be more focused on personalized customer interaction, which I’ve noticed has now been copied by Microsoft and AT&T stores. To me, Apple is another ‘big head’ convincing us that the next generation iPhone (or whatever) is necessary….because it starts our car?
Maybe the point is that not everything has to inspire us to be boldly different from everyone else…instead maybe the tool fosters a 0.01% per day mastery of a skill you care about? I continue to learn (and generally fail) as I try to recreate the innovative work of others. Others are already copying my work, and while it sometimes hurts, I eventually smile (Austin Kleon’s intriguing TEDx talk) rather than scream, as there is now more of what I thought the world’s people need. Maybe you’d scream at me too… contesting that if my kid’s survival depended on me selling 86 rather than just 2 glass or wood pieces this month, my reaction to all this would be different. Fortunately, producing endless iterations of the same thing is in the exact opposite direction of why I love creating with wood and glass so much, and I’ve made life choices to this end.
Below is an example of what I’m talking about. I used a piece of stained glass as the backdrop for an emotional photo. I’ve honestly never seen another example of this, but wish others would copy it.