After 25 hours of listening spread over last 30 days during my regular drives to work and Gym sessions, I finished listening to the Audiobook of “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. A few months back I had finished the book “The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation” by Jay Elliots so I was familiar with the man & his life. A lot has been written about Mr.Jobs and about the book in the weeks following his sad demise in October, so I will write in next few paragraphs my impression about the book and what I feel after reading it.
The first thing you notice is the size of the book which looks exhaustive, over 600 pages in the hardcover edition. A thorough work by the author “Walter Isaacson”, considering it should have been a monumental effort for Walter to make Jobs talk and then to verify/cross-verify facts as Steve Jobs (as you will learn in the book) is known to distort reality both willfully and unawares.
In the recent years, media has taken a liking to Apple because of Apple’s phenomenal success in Marketplace and its massive market capitalization. Millennials reading it are unaware of the two decades of struggle Jobs had to grow through to bring (personally mature and ripen with age) to that level, he had to suffer through being ousted from the company he founded & so on. Jobs’ early life was unlike any others, he had to deal with the fact of being adopted, had long stints with most things that are narcotics (ACIDs, LSD), his year of free-roaming in India in Himalayan plains, his interest of Japanese Zen philosophy, yet his appreciation of Italian architecture and the list goes on. What strikes you is the realization that a man as creative as Jobs, with his Buddhist bend he can be a sensitive person, pick up easily vibes assessing people emotionally, yet can use those same skills to hurt the people who are around him at his will. It is well known that Jobs liked the quote “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” from the back cover of the last issue of “Whole Earth” magazine in 1971. Jobs had a way of thinking/behaving like pirates during the original Mac development times in the early 1980s. Jobs doing most of his important meetings and probably decisions too during his long walks with the concerned person – be it Sculley, Gates or Music label titans. Jobs had an enviable ability to laser-sharp focus on items he cared and completely ignore things he doesn’t care or don’t want to hear – this led him to create brilliant products of our age.
Readers will see the obvious differences between the two personalities who shaped the digital world in last 4 decades – Bill Gates & Steve Jobs, they are exactly of opposite poles. I enjoyed this quote from Bill Gates while countering Jobs claims that Microsoft stole for its Windows the GUI from Apple Mac OS – “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbour named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it”.
In the last chapters of the book, you are left wondering what if this man could have lived for few more years, what more great products he could have given us and what about his young kids losing their father forever. But then it suddenly hits you, that’s what life and nature are. All of us including Jobs get to stand on giants (and generations before us) shoulders and it is up to each one of us to make use of the vantage point & the time we have got there.
After listening to the Audiobook I bought the hardcover edition as well – as the book certainly needs a reserved place in my bookshelf and the hardcover has some of the rare photographs from his life journey.