Think Different

If you remember it well, this was Apple’s tagline back in 1980s. Back then when I saw Apple’s product – such as earlier version of Macintosh, I don’t quite understand what Think Different. I also don’t really see a need to think differently. I thought we should always think the way it is. Yeah, the way as your parents, teachers and preachers taught you. There shouldn’t be any other way right?

I still remember the day when Steve Jobs of Apple was fired and ousted from his company. It was either shown on TV or in the newspaper because it is still ringing in my ears that my father told me about him. My father said, “You see this guy is crazy. He started a company then it grows so big and he got fired from his own company. How that could be possible? He started the company of course he should stayed on.” My father was furious – he was a technician with a government-owned company. He added this line that stuck with me for umpteen years, “So don’t bother about starting a company or do business because it will be a disaster if you become like this guy. He is out of job now!”

While Steve Jobs ousted from Apple walking away with millions (that time I didn’t know he had stocks) and as for me that line stayed on imprinted in my subconscious for many years to come. I was 10 years in 1990. That was how powerful parents words because it can shape thoughts. The undoing it took long, painful losses yet adventurous (when looked back!). So my goal when I grow up was to score well in studies and work for an organisation, preferably a government-owned if not a government agency.

However life has its own way of nudging me to different directions. I was given many opportunities in my late teens to open up the different side of me that I had surpassed for long time. The journey begins and now here I am.

This post came about when I bumped into a young engineer in a company that I conducted training. This technician was paying a lot of attention the class and getting involved as well. So during lunch time I complimented him and he said he is very interested the subject, Design Thinking. He said he learned some of it during his university days.

He then continued telling me that he was selected as the only student in a student project sponsored by Dyson – yes the vacuum, bladeless fan and some other awesome appliances. He said during his Dyson stint, he had been pushed to think very differently, yes very different so much so his engineering him had to give away. He was so scared and shocked that why this successful company like Dyson wanted think to be so different? He couldn’t get it, yet he persisted. He worked on hand-dryer project at that time.

He then told me that he was offered a job interview after that, yeah just the interview first. During the session he was asked to think very differently for example how could a ball be different? How could a battery be different? Instead of thinking different, he tried to give the facts that he knew. He didn’t survived the first interview. Poor this technician. Interestingly, according to him, those that survived the interviews and finally landed jobs there were those who think very different. He knew these people were very different because he worked with them during the project. This story was relayed to me 2 months ago. I got this guy to tell the rest of his colleagues, and they were all surprised hearing it first time because this technician has been working there for the last 5 years. 🙂

Think different is highly prized these days. If you are students, teens, young executives and junior managers, senior managers and CEOs, it pays to invest in yourself how to think different. It pays to think different because the “mismatched” world is considered as creative and innovative these days. Get a book or two about how different can you be. Hangout in conferences or people that are different from you. Take risk a little bit, throw yourself plunge a little bit and embrace uncomfortable feelings a little bit. The rewards? Think different.

My parting words, “If you think you are different, stay different, someday someone somewhere might find you valuable.”

Think different.

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