I mentioned the last time that the end of the tennis season has really ramped up my reading time – and this week was no exception.
The book I have been hearing so much about – the Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson – just came into the library (FIRST!! ) and provided a very unvarnished look at Steve Jobs and his life and how it shaped him to be the person he was. This book is huge – just under 600 pages and it took me awhile to chew through it – can’t remember the last non-reference book that I read that was as long as this book. And while I was never a Apple fanboi or an acolyte at the altar of Steve, his history still interests me as well as his entrepreneurial spirit.
Anyway, very interesting – many of the Steve Jobs anecdotes I had already heard but the history behind his meetings with Bill Gates, how he was ousted at Apple, and the many managerial mistakes were told in much greater detail as well as his family history which I hadn’t ever heard that much about. Its so hard for me to think of Steve Jobs without picturing Noah Wylie thanks to the TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley where Noah played the part of Steve Jobs so well, right down to the temper tantrums and the bare feet in the office, that even Steve Jobs brought Noah Wylie in to portray him at one of the MacWorld conferences one year. In fact, there seems to be a contest already between George Clooney and Noah Wylie over who will get to play him in a Steve Jobs movie (for my money, it has to be Noah)
If you disagree, you haven’t seen this movie – watch this movie and it will end all doubt
Other interesting things in this book:
- Steve (a practitioner of Zen beliefs) telling YoYo Ma “You playing is the best argument I’ve ever heard for the existence of God, because I don’t really believe a human alone can do this.”
- Loved the stories of Steve Job’s “reality distortion field” and how some like Gates never bought into his almost cult-like following while others were pushed to the edge.
- Steve was a walking contradiction – a person who was given up for adoption but refused to consider adoption of his first child – was pushing for the mother to have an abortion, someone who claimed not to be interested in money but refused to share much of the initial wealth from Apple going public with many of the original loyal employees, refused to have a “CEO” parking spot but assumed the right to park in handicapped spots, would brag about working for $1 a year but demand huge stock grants bestowed (and then later even backdated) to him, and finally someone who reveled in his ability to “steal” great ideas from others and then going nuclear on Gates and Google when they started copying his ideas.
Like Warren Buffett, I appreciate the bravery it takes for people like Steve Jobs and Warren to authorize biographies and give the author complete control and even the mandate to print the truth “warts and all” because while Steve would have been a very interesting person to know, he sure left a wake of destroyed people in his path which was something that his initial partner Steve Wozniak always tried to avoid. The book makes the point that his traits good and bad are what caused Apple to change the face of computing rather than just a footnote in a computer science history book and I believe that – his force of will was so incredibly powerful and this book really proves that out.