Yesterday morning, I finished reading to 600 page Steve Jobs Biography written by Walter Isaacson. To sum up the experience – it’s a great read. At least for people who are interested in business, technology and creativity.
One the key strengths of the biography is the outstanding story telling by the author. This book is not only about Steve Jobs. No, there are fascinating anecdotes of the early Silicon Valley days that show how closely connected some of the pioneers were. Jobs and Wozniak, for example, reaped some of their first successes at Atari and they were heavily influenced by HP. The book therefore takes you on a fun journey through the history of modern technology. While reading the biography, I often found myself pulling up old photos of game consoles, PCs, Macs, iPods and other products. The relationship between Apple and Microsoft is also an important topic. And then there is Pixar of course: many people do not realize that Steve Jobs managed to bring Pixar to where it is today. Without Jobs there would probably not be movies like ‘Finding Nemo’ or ‘Toy Story’.
Steve Jobs was definitely a genius. The products he managed to bring to market are amazing for sure. And they have changed the world forever. But being a genius didn’t necessarily make him a nice person. The book is filled with tons of examples that show what a complex and difficult personality Jobs was. He must have been extremely rude and disrespectful. Reading some of the stories of him destroying and attacking co-workers, competitors, friends and family are outright disgusting. There were a few chapters where I just had to put the book down and walk away. Also, the stories about his extremely weird eating and personal hygiene habits are ….well…..interesting(he was a strict vegan and didn’t believe in taking showers). Overall, you get the picture of an extremely talented but yet extremely nasty person.
The biography is also motivating and educational. Jobs will be remembered as one of the most outstanding management characters. The book offers many insights into his philosophy. It certainly got me thinking about many different things and I would argue that this book could become a standard read in business schools. I will collect a few learnings and share them in a different post next week.
If you are interested in business and technology, get the Steve Jobs book. It is a true page-turner. There are chapters that are annoying (I got frustrated reading about Job’s weird behaviors). But it is truly inspiring and informative. A perfect read for the upcoming holiday season.
“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.” Steve Jobs
P.S.: If you are indeed interested in Steve Jobs, I can highly recommend the writing of Carmine Gallo. He has published two books about Steve Jobs’ key strengths: creativity and presentation skills. Both books are quick reads and they offer insightful tips and tricks that everybody can use in business.