There were many critics of my posting called “As Good As Steve.” They sought to refute my contention that Majora is as good as Steve. The criticism misses the most important implication of her speech; or, perhaps more accurately, I did not adequately highlight the implication. But first, let’s set the record straight for the people who questioned my sanity.

First, “looking down at her notes.” No doubt there are times when she is looking down and reading her notes. However, I don’t think this issue is as pronounced as detractors think. In the scene where she dissects Al Gore, you can see that the stage is above the audience. Also, the camera is above her elevation. Hence, she would appear to be looking down at notes when she may in fact be making eye contact with the audience.

Second, “rushing.” She had an eighteen-minute limit. It’s true that she could have timed her presentation better, but this sort of time constraint for mere mortals is not something Steve ever faces.

Third, Steve has infinitely more resources and momentum than Majora. (“Steve Jobs” gets 17,000,000 hits in Google. “Majora Carter” gets 27,000. Incidentally, “Guy Kawasaki” gets 2,950,000, so I’m .176470588 of Steve…which sounds about right.)

  • Steve is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Steve is also the largest shareholder of Disney via his Pixar position.

  • Steve has been a highly visible figure for twenty five years. He’s worth billions and makes millions every year. Many of us have heard him speak many times.

  • Every product manager of every product Steve demos has worked on her part of the demo for a month as if her career depended on it. And she’d be right.

  • Steve has hundreds of employees and billions of dollars of R & D creating the products that he demos for a few minutes.

  • In any given Steve audience, the room is filled with Macintosh fanatics. Worst case, if a member of the audience uses Windows, he probably wishes he had a Macintosh and probably does have an iPod. Absolutely worst case, everyone in every audience has heard of him.

  • I would bet that approximately twenty-five people help Steve with his keynotes including product managers, VPs, PR flacks, IT geeks, and CEOs of partners and vendors. He can specify the type of stool he sits on and the brand of bottled water that he’s drinking, and they will magically appear. (On the other hand, Madonna gets a new toilet for every concert.)

  • When Steve speaks, it’s “his” keynote. No conference manager has set a time limit. No one is signalling him to get off stage. No one’s not going to invite him back next year. And he has unlimited access to the stage for at least twenty-four hours to set up and rehearse.

Up to this point, there are many CEOs who have these sorts of advantages, and yet they aren’t a Steve Jobs any more than Dan Quayle is a John F. Kennedy. Thus, we must acknowledge that Steve is an enormously talented speaker even without these advantages. Clearly, if you take an enormously talented person with enormous momentum, then you get the one and only Steve Jobs.

Fourth, let’s examine Majora Carter. She does have a MacArthur fellowship, and that smokes, but how many MacArthur fellows are brand names? She has nowhere near the resources, momentum, or Fortune 500 podium. She probably can’t even get a Countryman E6i that’s black. :-)

Some inside facts about her presentation:

  • She rehearsed it thirty times.

  • As I mentioned, there was an eighteen minute time limit.

  • There was a big LED counter in the back of the room to show the time remaining.

  • There was no dry run on stage before her performance.

  • Her entourage is her fiance.

Despite all these differences, 24% of the poll takers (and I) think that she’s as good or better than Steve Jobs. The fact that anyone, much less 24% of the poll takers, would think she’s as good as Steve is remarkable.

Perhaps we should do Wages of Wins type of analysis (be sure to check out Malcolm Gladwell’s review of the book). If we adjust for factors like R & D budget, marketing budget, number of minions, we might have to conclude that Majora is better, not just as good as, Steve Jobs.

Now I ask you to ignore whether you think that she’s as good or better than Steve Jobs because this debate, while fun and spirited, is moot. The valuable lesson and key takeaway is this:

Her performance gives hope to the hopeful.

Not just her to “customers” in the Bronx. Not just to every woman warrior, black or white. Not just to every social activist. But to anyone who simply wants to be a great communicator because now “the rest of us” have a data point that proves that…

  • You don’t need to be a billionaire, knight, ex-VP of the US, or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

  • You don’t need to be supported by billions of dollars of research and marketing and dozens of minions.

  • You don’t need to be white, male, and old.

But you do need a great cause and great passion, though. And these factors are under your control.