Chris Castig Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.

Role Model Examples: Don’t Try to Be Steve Jobs

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Who is an example of a role model?

In 1991, Kurt Cobain was the definition of cool.

The Billboard Charts that year were overrun by mainstream hits by Paula Abdul, Vanilla Ice and Boyz II Men. Music was about looking good. And lip singing.

And then in September of 1991 Kurt Cobain and Nirvana came out with Nevermind and it felt like the biggest FUCK YOU to mainstream culture.

I remember Kurt wearing a “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” t-shirt on the cover of Rolling Stones magazine. And I remember thinking of all the other celebrities on the magazine that year, and how they must of worked so hard to project an image of “looking good.”

The band open-mouth kissing during the SNL credits just to “piss off the redneck homophobes” and how it probably did.

I remember that raw feeling of someone standing up for what they believe and not caring what anyone thinks.

I haven’t felt that feeling in a while. 

I’m sure there were plenty of people “doing what Kurt Cobain was doing back in 1991“. But he just happened to get famous for it. When someone does really great art; sometimes that art gets the chance to reach millions of people.

What happens to the art isn’t important. What’s important is that he was making it. He was just a guy. Doing his thing.

It’s easy to praise heroes after the fact. And it’s just as easy to say  “I want to be Kurt Cobain”. But Kurt Cobain wasn’t TRYING TO BE Kurt Cobain.

The same goes for STEVE JOBS. Or any visionary: STEVE JOBS wasn’t TRYING to be STEVE JOBS. He just saw a better way of life.

Don’t try to be KURT COBAIN. Rather seek what he sought.

Where is “Kurt Cobain” these days?  I don’t think that the modern day Kurt Cobain will likely be found making music.

Edward Snowden is a true modern day Kurt Cobain.

Malala Yousafzai is a Kurt Cobain.

I’m sure there are others among us.


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Chris Castig Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.