We all think we know who Steve Jobs was, what made him tick, and what made him succeed. Yet the single most important question about him has never been answered.
The young, impulsive, egotistical genius was ousted in the mid-'80s from the company he founded, exiled from his own kingdom and cast into the wilderness. Yet he returned a decade later to transform the ailing Apple into the most successful company the world had ever seen.
How did this reckless upstart transform himself into a visionary business leader? The first comprehensive study of Jobs' career following his dismissal from Apple, written with unparalleled access and insight, Becoming Steve Jobs offers a startling new portrait of the most important business figure in modern history.
The most intimate biography yet of Jobs, written by the journalist who knew him better than any other, Becoming Steve Jobs draws on recently discovered interviews that have never before seen the light of day and answers for the first time the most pressing questions about what made this legendary business leader such a success.
"Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli render a spectacular service with this book, giving fresh perspective on Steve Jobs' journey from inspiring but immature entrepreneur into an inspired and mature company-builder.... Becoming Steve Jobs gets the focus precisely right: not as a success story, but as a growth story. Riveting, insightful, uplifting - read it and learn!" (Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, coauthor of Built to Last and Great by Choice)
"Becoming Steve Jobs is fantastic. After working with Steve for over 25 years, I feel this book captures with great insight the growth and complexity of a truly extraordinary person. I hope that it will be recognized as the definitive history." (Ed Catmull, president, Pixar and Disney Animation)
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Compared to Isaacson's biog? Maybe not. Read on...
Having read Isaacson's book, I wasn't going to read this one, but I did so based on the news from Apple that it was a more accurate representation of Jobs - so lets deal with that bit first.
From Isaacson's book, I gathered that Jobs attention (and hence love and kindness) were only really ever focussed on what met his priorities - and everything else was callously cast aside. If what you did or were, were aligned with his priorities, then he would move heaven and earth to help or defend you - but you would also have to put up with blunt, harsh and often unkind words, if what you did was not up to Jobs version of excellence. This is how Jobs achieved what he achieved - and many, including family, were hurt along the way.
This book didn't really add a whole lot to that in spite of what those at Apple said. Maybe there were subtleties that only people who really knew him wold pick up on - or maybe they just wanted to kick Isaacson's "official" biog - or maybe its all marketing - who knows. Fact is, Steve chose Isaacson - and was rebuffing this guys bio material during the years leading up to his death.
This book did however reveal a little more about some of the personal relationships between Jobs and some of the Apple and Disney execs.
The contradiction about Apple releasing a TV is interesting - Isaacson says jobs was quite clear that he had figured it out while this book claims Jobs didn't like TV so would never do it. Again, who knows.
I found the style of writing here to be a bit rambling. It was broadly chronological, but nowhere near the history of the IT industry that you get from Isaacson. It didn't seem to me to tell the story quite so well, jumping around quite a bit. For example, see references to Web Objects - the middle of the book almost seems to be a history of Apple and Jobs from the perspective of Web Objects...
It tries to show how Jobs "grew" in maturity and as a leader/CEO and not just a visionary. However, I don't think it did this very convincingly as many of the examples of changes in behaviour were actually the same behaviour - but with better outcomes. So, for example, Jobs single minded focus and logic, ignoring everybody else, led to the failure of the Apple 3 and the NeXT workstation, but worked for iPod and iPhone. And all that business with former colleagues and the SEC show no real change in my view. Yes, he became more adept at manipulating people more effectively to get what he wanted - but the basic premise of only caring about people and things that mattered to the items on his radar - was still there.
Its impossible to say - maybe I'd have liked this book a whole lot more than Isaacson's book if I'd read it before that one. But hey, just like that one, I couldn't put it down and I read it in two sittings - and have the bags under my eyes to prove it!
I love Steve's aesthetic and it just boggles the mind that nobody else in the whole IT industry can come up with a desktop pc as pretty as the iMac. But if he was that much of a visionary, he should have seen what Bill Gates saw long before him - i.e. the power of software not hardware to be the human contact point. Just as well Bill and Microsoft had and still have no clue about the human side of things - as this is why Apple may still have a bright future - at least for a little while.
However, Steve would NEVER have allowed the iPhone 6 power button to be exactly opposite to the volume rockers - so that when you hold the phone to activate one, you continually activate the other!
This and the occasional withdraw of the priority of the home button from the processor's attention in recent versions of IOS, this all tells me that a real user / engineer is no longer controlling things. Again, Steve would never have allowed that - its starting to feel like an Android device already - driven by the market and economic, instead of by perfection.
It is interesting how Isaacson talks a lot about Steve setting Sir Jony Ive up to remain very powerful in the future of Apple - but this guy focuses more on Cook at the helm. Basically, Cook (not Jobs) comes across a lot better in this book then in the other one. Personally, I think that gives the game away just a little for this book - and it if represents reality, it may give the game away for Apple too.
Steve Jobs: The Man
- Mr. N. Mckenna