Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson; Simon &
Schuster: New York, 2011; $35
Almost everybody uses Apple products these days: the iPad, iPod, iPhone, iMac, etc. But do you know who the driving force behind these great inventions was? Steve Jobs! I am fascinated with technology and want to accomplish great things too when I grow up, so I decided to read Steve Jobs, a biography by Walter Isaacson. Reading this book allowed me to take a look into Jobs’s flamboyant and complex personality that was so critical for his successes and failures. I suggest you read it too.
Steve Jobs was adopted shortly after birth. In school, Jobs was a restless and precocious child. He dropped out of college and took a religious trip to India in his twenties. Shortly after he returned, he and his friend Steve Wozniak worked on a computer project that led to the founding of Apple Inc. That’s when his career took off. Jobs resigned from Apple in the late ’80s because of a power struggle with the then CEO, John Sculley. He went on to establish the NeXT company and Pixar. Jobs went back to Apple as CEO in the late ’90s. His biggest projects before he died in October 2011 were the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Steve Jobs is a captivating book with plenty of interesting anecdotes. I did not know that Jobs was a vegetarian and once ate apples, only apples, for one week straight. A person would have to be extremely disciplined to just eat one thing for a long time. I found the strict eating habits of Jobs particularly puzzling because the same discipline was not shown at work—he could rarely refrain from shouting at his employees. Jobs didn’t like people who were different from him; many ideas were probably rejected because of who proposed them. I find that when I am in a team, we are more productive when everyone listens to each other. If Jobs had been more open-minded and receptive to others, Apple could be even greater.
Steve Jobs was hardworking and dedicated. The large amount of time he spent working really benefited his company. But he overworked himself and sacrificed his health. Another price he paid was very little time with his family. Due to his focus on work and his aloof personality, he and his daughter Lisa did not begin to bond until she was about nine. He was also never very close to his other two daughters, Erin and Eve, although he was quite fond of his son, Reed. I find it sad for a great entrepreneur to not have an intimate relationship with his own children. Steve Jobs must have thought about this too. When Isaacson asked Jobs his motives for a biography, he said he wanted it to be something his children could use to know him better. I feel Jobs wanted this to be his second chance, a way to make up for all those times he wasn’t there for his children.
I placed myself in Jobs’s shoes and thought, What would I have done? I decided that, although I would be just as dedicated to my work, I would also reserve time to bond with my family and relax a bit. I would play with my kids and leave them with happy childhood memories instead of a biography.
I loved the way the author told Jobs’s story with so many actual comments from Jobs’s friends and family, co-workers, and enemies. After I read this book, I had a better understanding of Steve Jobs, not just as a great innovator but also as a human being. I learned a few lessons about life and work, and the importance and complexity of human relationships.