Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I heard this was a good biography, and I like Apple products, so I gave it a chance.  Actually, I got it at the library with three other massive books (this one clocks in at 570 pages) and I chose to read it first because I assumed I wouldn’t get past the first page.  I WAS SO WRONG.  I loved Jobs’ biography, for two main reasons.

Steve Jobs was a fascinating man.  Isaacson makes sure to let the readers know Jobs’ passion often turned into screaming fights and insulting appraisals of people’s work.  And yet…despite his frequent moments as a jerk, I wound up loving the man.  He was intense, brilliant, and focused.  When he saw something inadequate, in himself or in others, he did everything in his power to improve it.  Although this cost him some relational intimacy, those exact same qualities led him to revolutionize technology, not once or twice, but in every major technological division: personal computers, music, tablets, storefronts, phones, entertainment.  He was hard to work for, but 90% of his employees were proud to be on his team because he brought out excellence they never knew they had.  

Jobs’ biography was also fascinating, simply to see the drastic changes in technology over the last 40 years.  He joined the tech world as a teenager, right when computers were in their infancy.  It was so wild to read about the excitement of Apple engineers discovering how to make tabs on the screen overlap.  Understanding the rapid changes felt all the more impressive when framed within one man’s lifetime.  By the end of the book, we were zipping through iTunes and iPhones, projects that were far more complicated but now took far less time to realize.

I was impressed and inspired by Jobs’s devotion to creating products that embraced technology and artistry.  He was never satisfied with any short of perfection.  He knew how to inspire people to do the impossible.  His biography makes it clear that without Steve Jobs, our world would be a far different place.  He is truly one of the greats.

Steve_Jobs_by_Walter_IsaacsonBook Jacket

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, 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 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.

Release Date:  October 2011


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