[Viewpoint] Take the road not taken

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[Viewpoint] Take the road not taken

According to the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, Jobs was certain he would be named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 1982. However, the magazine selected the computer as its “Machine of the Year,” partly because of issues in Jobs’ private life. Jobs cried when he learned the news. Two months after his death, Jobs is once again being talked about as being the Person of the Year, although Time has never bestowed the title on anyone posthumously.

Dead or alive, Jobs was a great man. There is no point in comparing him to Albert Einstein and arguing who was more of a genius. They are two geniuses who made different kinds of contributions to humanity.

Leslie Wexner, the founder of Victoria’s Secret, is a man who has won over the hearts of many women. Victoria’s Secret brought into the open the once hidden world of lingerie. The brand tapped the secret desire of women to reveal their undergarments. Lingerie worth showing off turned out to be a high-end market just waiting to be created. Victoria’s Secret became a great success, and every model in the world wants to walk the runway of their fashion show. Their boyfriends and husbands don’t mind a bit.

Nevertheless, Wexner never considered himself a genius. He said he didn’t create anything and certainly didn’t invent the bra or girdle. He said he only had a different perspective. Jobs may be the same sort of genius. They have novel ideas while looking at everyday things.

Youth unemployment is the hot potato issue in Korea. Various forms of knowledge “concerts” (or lectures) are held around the country to comfort, motivate and empower Koreans in their 20s and 30s. However, does merely communicating with them and providing sympathy do anything to solve the problem? Is the idea of regime change in the next election a way to create a new and more comfortable world, as the author of “Shut up, It’s Politics” - Kim Eo-jun, host of the popular political podcast “Naneun Ggomsuda,” or “I’m a Petty-Minded Creep” - suggests?

Son Joo-eun, the CEO of Megastudy, had an interview with a newspaper on Nov. 7. The popular former cram school instructor once declared, “Only studying can save you.” He is one of the figures who exerted overwhelming influence on the young generation. In the interview, Son said that he should have known better. Academic success may merely be an easy way to enjoy comfortable life, he confessed. Son said that young Koreans should be daring enough to break out of the system and take the road that hasn’t been taken.

We need to be reminded of Steve Jobs’ mantra, “Think different.” If you look at a situation from a new angle, you may find yourself on that road rarely taken. For example, students can learn English from free online lessons these days without paying anything for expensive private lessons. Getting access to various computer parts, equipment and software has never been so affordable and convenient.

Jobs changed the world by putting together existing items in new ways and forms. A shift of perspective could reverse the buyer-supplier relationship between businesses. One of the notable examples is a 6 billion won ($5.2 million) collaboration in Japan last year. Torei is a far bigger company, but the initiative was on the side of Uniqlo, the highly clever clothing maker. When Uniqlo develops clothing using a high-tech material, Torei takes care of acquisition of raw material, textile development and production. Since the main business involved is not a matter of technology but concept, Torei recognized Uniqlo’s edge in the project.

The established generation in Korea feels sorry for the young generation in their 20s and 30s. Older people feel embarrassed to advise them to pursue dreams and challenges. But the youth can learn from the advice of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. These American pioneers have essentially the same spirit.

In 1998, at the height of his career, Microsoft co-founder Gates said that his biggest competitive fear was “someone in a garage who is devising something completely new.” In a memorable speech at Stanford University, Jobs said, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” You may oppose the Korea-U.S. FTA, but these pieces of advice should be imported without tariff. Personally, I support Jobs for Person of the Year.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Lee Chul-ho

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