The book is a retrospective of Jobs’ life from early childhood to adulthood. It focuses a great deal on the man’s idiosyncrasies and management style. It paints him as a radical in that he consistently didn’t care about hurting other people when creating Apple. He made difficult decisions and often times was a fanatical critic of others and their work.
The subject was often incredibly personal and as such the development of the book is in it’s own way very fascinating. Evidently, Jobs wanted that his children be able to understand him more after his death, which was upcoming during the production, and therefore allowed the author to become ingrained in his life and interview everyone in his life. In fact, there were literally hundreds of interviews that added to the creation of the book. From his family to his competitors and peers over the course of decades. The amount of detail in the book is very telling and something to be commended. I actually am intrigued to see some of Isaacson’s other biographies for Benjamin Franklin or Albert Einstein where interviews couldn’t be nearly as easy to come by.
Jobs himself is often cited in the book directly and his thought process is intriguing. He holds little back. He has an incredible ability to bend others to his will and “distort reality” by willing it to be so, at least in the minds of his present company. Jobs was also very emotional, breaking down and crying about things in the middle of meetings and absolutely raging at the next moment. He sounds as though he wore his heart on his sleeve, but was also capable of deception and negotiation at very high levels.
Many of the anecdotes actually make this well worth reading. I’ve always been intrigued by Jobs as marketer due to his unrelenting focus on putting out incredible products and experiences for customers. I think it’s something to aspire to. In most organizations, as I’ve seen, compromise is a necessity for being able to operate. Apple seems to relish the opposite, where being uncompromising in one regard, that of customer experience, is the mantra.
This was a long book, 600 pages or so, but it actually went very quickly. When Jobs passed, it was a very sad moment for me. Of course, I didn’t know him, but he is a legend of modern business and someone who truly embraced many things that we should all aspire to. He was also a role model for some things that we shouldn’t do. I personally don’t believe that treating people in certain ways is acceptable, but that’s a tradeoff decision some people choose to make.
Recommended, especially for those of us into tech or marketing. The stories are fascinating. If you don’t enjoy either of these subjects, you probably won’t be interested enough to make it a worthwhile pick up.