Oct. 20, 2019

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: The man, the mystery, the mistakes

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About the author

Walter Isaacson, University Professor of History at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN, and editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and
Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.


Click here to buy on The Book Depository


About the book

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.



If you enjoyed this episode, you might also enjoy the episode on the biography of Elon Musk


BIG IDEA 1 (6:15) – You don’t have to be perfect to be great.

Steve Jobs has a complex, tortured character. His first girlfriend described him as ‘an enlightened being who is cruel’. This shows you that you don’t need to have your stuff together to create something amazing.

A lot of people try to create amazing things, build awesome businesses, try to be perfect or great in all aspects of their life. It’s interesting to see how compartmentalized Steve Jobs was that other aspects of his life didn’t matter that much for him to create something creative and brilliant.

BIG IDEA 2 (8:02) – Get inspired.

Throughout his life, Steve was a constant inventor and experimenter. He was always looking for new ideas, links, creative outputs and inputs to look for clarity, escape and inspiration. He started this at a young age through some of the things that he created at his parent’s house. Later in life he and Steve Wozniak would come together and create games and new electronics. 

His trip to India, crazy diets – only eating raw fruits and vegetables and experimental use of LSD, are all listed down as his sources of enlightenment. During college he convinced Reed University to let him stop his tuition but still stay on campus and only go to classes he wanted to ‘audit’ them.

One of the early classes that he went to was the calligraphy class. This famously later inspired the fonts available in Mac. He also had a huge love of music, particularly classical music and Bob Dylan. This also provides a huge inspiration into the works that he did for both the Apple products and rethinking music and its distribution.

BIG IDEA 3 (10:39) – Think different.

The reality distortion field – Steve saw things and possibilities that nobody else could. Many people said they did things that many people believed that they couldn’t do but Steve has a way of making things sound so normal and possible. He would also put incredible faith to people that they could do those things (even if they didn’t think they could). He also believed that people don’t know what they want until you show them. 

He was fastidious for details and had an eye for perfection that many people didn’t see to the same extent he did. For example, Apple HQ in California is designed in such a way that people would bump into each other because he believed that’s when the ideas would naturally flow. The ability and vision he had to think different was always within him.

Music By: String of Pearls Song by Vic Davi

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