Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

“He has an uncanny ability to cook up gadgets that we didn’t know we needed, but then suddenly can’t live without. A closed system may be the only way to deliver the kind of techno-Zen experience that Apple has become known for.” – Daniel Lyons, Newsweek

End-to-end control of every product made. The ability to integrate hardware, software and content into one unified system. Steve Jobs had an instinct for integrated systems, tightly weaving them together, and closing them off to modifications. Simply put: Jobs was a genius.

I finally got around to finishing Steve Jobs by former Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson, and the book is truly a masterpiece. It chronicles Jobs’ life from his early childhood and adoption all the way through Jobs’ final days battling the cancer that took his life. The most interesting aspect of this project is that Jobs, an uber-control freak, relinquished complete control to Isaacson in order to get the writer to pen this biography, which ended up giving readers an unbiased (mostly) take on the man, his life and his work. The most surprising part? Jobs was one cranky mofo – an erratic, spastic bossman who would berate his employees, break them down, and tell them their work was shit. Ouch.

On one hand, Jobs could be an asshole, and I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead. He had an inability to emote, and lacked empathy for others, both in the workplace and at home. Employees, his wife and even his children had to adapt to be able to communicate with him and deal with their feelings. But Isaacson isn’t out to crucify Jobs here; the man’s brilliance radiates off the pages. For anyone who has ever touched an iPhone, iPad or other Apple device, you don’t need to be told that Jobs was a visionary, but reading this biography solidifies Jobs’ impact on society with his ability to create products inspired by his passion, roots in 1960’s counter-culture, and even his experiences with LSD.

Though the book is lengthy and may not be the light fare you desire for pool-side reading, I highly recommend it. Readers get to see the man behind the Apple conferences. The business man who played hard to get and negotiated like a shark. The ruthless leader who often had the best ideas, but never wanted to admit when he was wrong. In these 600+ pages, you explore every aspect of his personality and learn how each quirky bout of eccentricity led Apple to become what it is today: A technology powerhouse leading industry innovation and bettering the user experience.

It’s scary to think about where we could’ve ended up without the genius that is Steve Jobs.  The man could very well be the most influential and inspirational leader of our lifetime. As Isaacson wrote, “Some leaders push innovations by being good at the big picture. Others do so by mastering details. Jobs did both, relentlessly…[he was] a master at putting together ideas, art, and technology in ways that invented the future.”

Well, said.

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