Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Apple’s “Think Different” commercial, 1997.

And that sum’s up 600 pages on Steve Jobs who thought and shared “the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.” Walter adds to complete “that it will be a key to creating innovative economies in the twenty-first century.”

Neither Steve Jobs nor his wife Laurene Powell sought any control over what Walter wrote and except for the cover, Steve Jobs had no involvement.  Laurene encouraged Walter to be honest about Steve Jobs’ failings as well as strengths. Walter interviewed more than hundred friends, relatives, competitors, adversaries, and colleagues.  He leaves up to viewers to assess the success in his mission as he shares that, people had such strong positive and negative emotions about Jobs that the Rashomon effect was often evident.

The book does not have reviews, preface, thanks……. Starts straight. There is no ‘Contents’ in the beginning as you turn pages – it’s at the end as Notes: not page wise but as per the topics covered. I don’t know it was by design and decision or just happened that way – but that’s Steve Jobs any way!

I am not competent enough for sure to cover it even in two parts and am amazed how Walter has done it – to me each page is new facet of Jobs and old one too : looks like his each breath was different still his lungs stored what he gave to the world : beauty and utility through minimalism.

And let share a glimpse: He was a careful person who was self-taught. He cared more about being inventive than about making money, and he never got rich. He never left California.  For Woodside house which was never furnished beyond few bare essentials buying of furniture was discussed for eight years!

Being an abandoned and an adopted child caused pain throughout his life. Being put for adoption left him “full of broken glass” said Chrisann Brennan, mother of their abandoned child and that helps to explain some of his behaviours including Jobs abandoning a child of his own, “He who is abandoned is an abandoner” though eventually he took responsibility for Lisa, his daughter.

He refuted this ‘adoption’ at times. Paul and Clara Jobs were “my parents 1000%” for Steve Jobs, whereas the biological parents were “my sperm and egg banks.”

Walter has covered another aspect of Jobs. Jobs was reluctant to let Paul and Clara, whom he considered his real parents, know about his search for his birth mother. With a sensitivity that was unusual for him, and which showed the deep affection he felt or his parents, he worried that they might be offended. So he never contacted Joanne Simpson until after Clara Jobs died in 1986. He even thanked his biological mother saying, “I wanted to meet my biological mother mostly to see if she was okay and thank her, because I’m glad I didn’t end up in abortion.”

Markula played a major role in his life and as Steve Jobs has shared what he taught Jobs, “Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.”

Steve Jobs became the greatest business executive of era to be remembered a century from now and history will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford. He built world’s most creative company that thrives best at the intersection of artistry and technology. In 2010 Apple surpassed Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company; by 2011 it was worth 70% more than Microsoft. The most interesting part is the Silicon Valley creation myth writ large: launching a startup in his parents’ garage and building it into the world’s most valuable company.

In early 1974 Steve Jobs was eager to make some money so that he can take trip to India where he spent quite some time. Throughout his life he followed many basic percepts of Eastern spirituality, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism; one being emphasis on experiential prajna, wisdom or cognitive understanding that is intuitively experienced through concentration of the mind.

Thirty Year Old – party for one thousand. Invitation read, “There’s an old Hindu saying that goes, ‘In the first 30 years of your life, you make habits. For the last 30 years of your life habits make you.’” Come help me celebrate mine.

He attributed his ability to focus and his love of simplicity to his Zen Training. Intuition, filtering anything that was distracting or unnecessary and nurturing of an aesthetics based on minimalism were honed due to the Zen training. Unfortunately Zen training never quite produced Zen-like calm or inner serenity which is also part of his legacy.

Apple II took the company from Job’s garage to the pinnacle: sales from 2500 in 1977 to 210000 in 1981. Restless Jobs was looking for more. Let’s see how Walter has covered Xerox PARC – Apple reference ‘Great Artists Steal’. Out of three amazing features Xerox demonstrated, graphical interface was what the future of computing was destined to be with. Known as the Apple raid on Xerox PARC and described as one of the biggest heists in the chronicles of industry. Jobs endorsed this with pride and shared, “Picasso had a saying – ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’ and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

T.S.Eliot has noted, ‘There falls a shadow between the conception and creation’. Jobs sometimes endorsed, what transpired was less a heist by Apple than a fumble by Xerox. In his words, “They were copier-heads who had no clue about what a computer could do. They just grabbed defeat from the greatest victory in the computer industry. Xerox could have owned the entire computer industry.”

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