[R]ecently I finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. I was blown away. Isaacson does an incredible job of recapping many of the highlights of Steve’s life without sugar coating the unpleasant details. The level of connection he had with Steve while working on this book impressed me. It isn’t written from the perspective of the outside looking in. This book is an inside view of Steve and the people who knew him best.
It’s a meaty book filled with many stories, but here are a few quotes that stood out to me the most:
It was important, his father said, to craft the backs of cabinets and fences properly, even though they were hidden. â€œHe loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldnâ€™t see.â€
And yet Jobsâ€™s dismay was understandable. Apple had been more innovative, imaginative, elegant in execution, and brilliant in design. But even though Microsoft created a crudely copied series of products, it would end up winning the war of operating systems. This exposed an aesthetic flaw in how the universe worked: The best and most innovative products donâ€™t always win.
The idea that John Lasseter pitched was called â€œToy Story.â€ It sprang from a belief, which he and Jobs shared, that products have an essence to them, a purpose for which they were made. If the object were to have feelings, these would be based on its desire to fulfill its essence. The purpose of a glass, for example, is to hold water; if it had feelings, it would be happy when full and sad when empty. The essence of a compter screen is to interface with a human.â€
Hereâ€™s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. Theyâ€™re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you canâ€™t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
One of Jobsâ€™s business rules was to never be afraid of cannibalizing yourself. â€œIf you donâ€™t cannibalize yourself, someone else will,â€ he said. So even though an iPhone might cannibalize sales of an iPod, or an iPad might cannibalize sales of a laptop, that did not deter him.
There is much food for thought here. This book made me realize that Steve had incredible strengths and incredible weaknesses. There was virtually nothing about him that was average. There was much that I will not emulate from Steve, but his intensity and passion for what he did is an inspiration for anyone who wants to spend their time on something that matters.
I’m giving this book an elusive “5” rating on my book list. If you are familiar with my list, you realize that this rarely happens. This book is worth it.