I finished reading the Steve Jobs book several weeks ago but I still can’t decide whether it changed my perception of him for better or worse. It caused me to have more admiration for his work, but less affection for him as a person. And it’s a great reminder that while all people are flawed, those who have a bit of genius in them seem to be even more flawed than the rest of us.
The book is a fantastic read—its juicy details and honest accounts of tough situations are mesmerizing–and I tore through the tome much faster than I expected. No matter if you own an iPhone or have any interest in technology; if you like biographies, you will like this book.
My favorite parts of Steve Jobs:
Jean-Louis Gassée, manager of Apple in France, worked out that Jobs needed to be out-bullied. “I used to be an angry man myself,” he explained. “I am a recovering assaholic. So I could recognize that in Steve.”
Following the lead of other phone phreaks such as Captain Crunch, they gave themselves handles. Wozniak became “Berkley Blue,” Jobs was “Oaf Tobark.”
Jobs: “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything: the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.”
[Jobs] thought of himself as an artist, which he was, and he indulged in the temperament of one.
In 1995 Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison threw a fortieth-birthday party for Jobs filled with tech stars and moguls. Ellison had become a close friend, and he would often take the Jobs family out on one of his many luxurious yachts. Reed (Job’s son) started referring to him as “our rich friend,” which was amusing evidence of how his father refrained from ostentatious displays of wealth. The lesson Jobs learned from his Buddhist days was that material possessions often cluttered life rather than enriched it. “Every other CEO I know has a security detail,” he said. “They’ve even got them at their homes. It’s a nutso way to live. We just decided that’s not how we wanted to raise our kids.”
(Talking about the iPhone) A lot of features that seem simple now were the result of creative brainstorms. In session after session, with Jobs immersed in every detail, the team members figured out ways to simplify what other phones made complicated. They added a big bar to guide you in putting calls on hold or making conference calls, found easy ways to navigate through email, and created icons you could scroll through horizontally to get to different apps—all of which were easier because they could be used visually on the screen rather than by using a keyboard built into the hardware.
(Jobs convincing Corning Glass CEO Wendell Weeks to switch all of his company’s manufacturing plants to make a different kind of glass that he wanted for the iPhone) “We don’t have the capacity,” Weeks replied. “None of our plants make the glass now.” “Don’t be afraid,” Jobs replied. This stunned Weeks, who was good-humored and confident but not used to Jobs’s reality distortion field. He tried to explain that a false sense of confidence would not overcome engineering challenges, but that was a premise that Jobs had repeatedly shown he didn’t accept. He stared at Weeks unblinking. “Yes, you can do it,” he said. “Get your mind around it. You can do it.” As Weeks retold this story, he shook his head in astonishment. “We did it in under six months,” he said. “We produced a glass that had never been made.”
Rupert Murdoch, on the organic vegan dishes served at Jobs’ house: “Eating dinner at Steve’s is a great experience, as long as you get out before the local restaurants close.”