Steve Jobsby Published 24 Oct 2011
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
From the author of the bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, this is the exclusive, New York Times bestselling biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.
Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.
Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.
Steve Jobs Reviews
I was a little surprised when Steve Jobs died that I actually had an emotional reaction of loss. He was always such a warrior for technological evolution, conceiving products that we didn't know we needed until we held them in our hands. I didn't know I needed an iPod, now I can't travel anywhere without slipping 13,000 songs into my pocket. I now have a playlist for any situation, a wedding, a long drive, robbing a bank, meditation etc. What was so unique about Jobs was that he was a creative person who also had the power to bring a progressive product to life. Good ideas did not die in committee at Apple or Pixar. For some reason conservative leaning people elevate to the highest positions in business in this country. Apple also went through a period of time when Jobs was too radical for a board of directors who wanted to make Apple more like other companies. After reading this biography, I know now that Jobs deserved to be ousted, and what a great occurrence for the world because Pixar would have never been created. He benefited from his time away, learning lessons of consolidating power. When Apple floundered and Jobs was brought back he was much better equipped to lead a company
I have always been mystified by the divisions in the country between Apple and Microsoft. I have owned a lot more Apple products than I have PC based products. So without even realizing I guess at some point I joined team Jobs. I used Apples and PCs without really thinking I was being disloyal to a brand, but I have been on the periphery of many heated arguments discussing the merits of PC versus the merits of Macs. I always felt that Jobs was the guy with the concepts and ideas and Gates was sitting around twiddling his thumbs waiting for Jobs to come up with the next "great thing" so he could clone it. There is more truth in that statement than fervent PC believers would like to admit.
One of Jobs ex-girlfriends happened to read in a psychiatric manual about Narcissistic personality Disorder and decided that Jobs perfectly met the criteria. "It fit so well and explained so much of what we had struggled with, that I realized expecting him to be nicer or less self-centered was like expecting a blind man to see." Jobs was brutal to his employees, to his family, and to his business partners. One of his favorite lines when looking at a new concept was to say "this is shit". He was a ranter, skilled with skewering insults, contemptuously rude, and yet so sensitive to any slight. When faced with a fond memory or a beautiful concept that he loved he would burst into tears. To say the least, being in the Steve Jobs orbit would have been not only stressful, but confusing. The people that did the best with him were the people that pushed through the "distortion field" that Jobs was nestled in his whole life. For all his failings as a human being and as a boss he was also a talented communicator inspiring people way beyond what they thought they were capable of accomplishing. He firmly believed that nothing was worth doing unless it was going to change the world and that belief was infectious to those that worked with him.
When Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer I can remember thinking to myself that no one had ever beaten that form of cancer, but I also thought to myself if anyone can it would be Steve Jobs. His money bought him time. They were able to map the gene of the cancer that was trying to kill him and better target chemo and drugs that would most effectively control the growth of the cancer. "One of his doctors told him that there was hope that his cancer, and others like it, would soon be considered a manageable chronic disease, which could be kept at bay until the patient died of something else." As Jobs said, "I'm either going to be one of the first to be able to outrun a cancer like this, or I'm going to be one of the last to die from it." As we know he lost his battle with cancer, but certainly the money he threw at the disease will end up benefiting all of us.
Walter Isaacson is an excellent biographer, I enjoyed his Benjamin Franklin bio very much and intend to read the Einstein biography as well. Steve approached Isaacson to write his biography and Isaacson asked him if he wanted him to write it because he associated himself with Einstein and Franklin. Jobs didn't deny it. He was well aware of his place in history. I liked Steve Jobs more before reading this biography. I have a deeper understanding of how and why he was so successful. I can not emulate his management style nor would I ever want to. He was a destructive personality that inspired creativity. I feel we are diminished by his absence from the ranks and I can only hope there is a young person in a messy garage, tinkering with the concept that will be the next "thing" that will change our lives.
Never expected to find this much enjoyment reading a biography. Isaacson has truly done a wonderful job with this book.
For those who are too busy to read the entire book, please try to grab a quick read of the last two chapters of the book at a book store or airport or someplace - These chapters are a concise summary of the entire book as well as the thesis Isaacson builds up to throughout the book. Besides, it will probably make you buy and read the whole thing anyway.
To call this man a "Great Marketer" is probably a great disservice to him and Steve would probably have had a fit about that. I used to think of him as an epitome of modern marketing as well, but he would probably classify marketing as 'evil' in his radar. He hated the idea of any company focusing on marketing and emphatically states that is the whole problem with most companies today. This is probably a difficult idea to get to grips with, but is essential too.
I hope every Management Guru and CEO is studying this book and drawing the right lessons. We could truly be in a better world if they do. Just to clarify, I am not a fanboy of all apple products though I am sure the Mac is the best tech device till date but I do I fall on the android side of the fence.
But, Jobs' philosophy on running companies and driving innovation is the best in the modern age and should be copied shamelessly, if not their product features (I am looking at you Samsung).
so, we are having the event for this book at our store tonight. the number of people calling up to ask if steve jobs will also be present to sign is staggering. in other words, "i care enough about steve jobs to want to read a 600+ page book about him, but i am somehow unaware that he is deceased."
is what i hope. the alternative is ghoulish and i do not want to entertain it.
Executive summary of Isaacson's "Steve Jobs":
- Remove everything that is unnecessary.
- Be ruthless about building an A team.
- Make stuff you believe in.
- Collaborate often through vigorous discussion.
- Push yourself and others to do the impossible now.
- Make great experiences by simplifying.
- Own your work and protect it.
- Live at intersection of intellect and intuition.
But these are not spoilers. The drama of this biography is in the decisions Jobs made, the way he followed through on these ideals. Read the book. In the same way that you understand a proverb much more after you've had a life a experience that demonstrates it, these will mean much, much more when you see them in the context of Steve Jobs' life.
Plus, you'll also discover Jobs' equally as compelling character traits: from his idealism to his irascibility.
Oops! The publishers forgot to include a subtitle, so I've taken the liberty of helping them come up with one. May I suggest:
Steve Jobs: Unrelenting Narcissist, Suspected Sociopath and Giant Fucking Asshole
Isaacson writes a great biography: He tells a coherent, cohesive story, he interviews all the players and most important he doesn't feel the need to hoist his subject on a pedestal with his pen. When it comes to carrying a story, our author did all the right things.
His subject, however, left much to be desired. It's startling to see how someone can be so immensely successful in one aspect of his life and such a complete, utter failure in virtually every other. To illuminate just a few of the many failings of Steve Jobs, allow me to expound upon my proposed subtitle:
Unrelenting Narcissist: It's true that if you're going to launch a business in a cutthroat industry and be willing to fight to the death to succeed, you gotta believe in yourself. Jobs, however, took a little positive self-esteem to a whole new level and chose to recreate truth to position himself in the best light. He steals the concept of the GUI from Xerox and it's collaborative sharing, but Microsoft does, well, anything and it's because they're thieves, and we have no respect for thieves. Good ideas? He took credit for them, even if he would veto them upon first review. The man truly believed he could do no wrong, and I can't help but think he probably, just before taking his last breath, was thinking, "Well there goes the future of Apple."
Suspected Sociopath: To be clear, I'm using the term "sociopath" like I would if I were Wong's junior psychologist on SVU: that is, to define someone with an anti-social personality disorder. The man - Jobs, not Wong; Wong is amazing - fit the profile to a T: Despite having the ability to charm someone's head off when he needed to, Jobs had an absolute lack of genuine regard for almost everyone around him - his wife, his employees, his poor, cast-aside daughters (his son seemed to escape his scorn, which is a charmingly sexist detail), even his supporters (I can't bring myself to call them friends) who were there for him from the beginning. If a person could not - or could no longer - provide a benefit to Jobs, he would cast them aside...but not before cruelly shitting mounds of aggression and abuse all over their bare heads. See? Sociopath.
Giant Fucking Asshole: There are seriously almost too many examples of this to count, but let me curate a sample for your consideration. 1). He screwed one of the founding members of Apple out of founders stock that would now be practically priceless. 2). He thinks he can explain away the abuse he doled out to employees by saying that was "just who I am." Seriously? Do you not think that the people around you want to rip your head off every single day? They do, I assure you. But you know what? They hold it in, because collaborative, encouraging environments are better for everyone (unless you're a narcissist and/or a sociopath, in which case, see above). 3). There's something atrocious about a multi-multi-multi-billionaire who can envision how personal computers/GUIs/the mouse/touchscreens/computer animation/digital music/tablets/etc. can change the world for rich consumers, but who can't see that a fraction of his wealth could have changed the world for people who don't have water.
It's undeniable that Jobs was fantastically talented and will go down in the books as one of the great visionaries in history. I'm writing my review on my MacBook, and both my iPhone and my iPad (as well as a slew of iPods, Nanos and Shuffles) are nearby, so I guess the guy was doing something right. Still, I don't believe that being an asshole is the answer, and I don't believe it gets better results; it may not get worse results, but if today's Apple is what he created with vinegar, then I'd love to see what he could have done with honey.