Becoming Steve Jobs - The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader

Review :

There's quite a bit of press about this book setting the record straight vis a vis Walter Isaacson's authorized biography, but I don't really like all that fuss. Let's leave negative talk about Walter Isaacson's book out of it.

This book is really good. I'm inspired by Steve Job's restlessness and insatiable quest for building insanely great products. His focus and passion just gives me a bit more energy to work harder to try to make a difference. It's the same inspiration I got from reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The feeling that what really matters is quality. From the smallest minutia to the broadest strokes. It's all about quality.

I felt like I had a good sense for Steve Job's life and work after Walter Isaacson's biography on him which covers all the major parts of his life (in some aspects more completely than this biography, if my memory serves me correctly), but Brent Schlender had a different, perhaps more intimate, vantage point from which to narrate the story of Steve Jobs. My favorite parts of this book were accounts of the little moments in Steve Job's life that could only be spoken about by people who knew him closely. First-hand accounts of interactions with John Lasseter, Jony Ives, Tim Cook, and Bill Gates made Steve Jobs come to life in a new way.

Brent Schlender went out of his way to make the case that Steve transformed from the brash, punk, capricious founder of Apple into a strong, disciplined leader, who was a good friend and a good father and husband. It is a story of change and growth, the archetype we all love, and it makes him and his story that much more endearing.

I often feel a bit sad at the end of a biography when the subject dies, as if I am losing a friend I have grown to care a lot about, but I felt especially reluctant to finish this book today. I don't want to be Steve Jobs, but I sure like his story. Would've been a thrill to know him.


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Below are notes and quotes for my personal reference:

Steve to John Lasseter: "You know, when we make a computer at Apple what's it's lifespan About three years At five years it's a doorstop, but if you do your job right, what you create can last forever." An interesting perspective on tech vs content. Tech gets stale much faster, while great content can live for many, many years.

"I watched Bob Dylan as I was growing up and I watched him never stand still. If you look at true artists, if they get really good at something it occurs to them that they can do this for the rest of their lives and they can be really successful at it to the outside world, but not really successful to themselves. That's the moment that an artist decides who he/she is. If they keep on risking failure they're still artists. Dylan and Picasso were always risking failure... I finally decided I don't really care, this is what I want to do. And if I tried my best and fail, well I tried my best." - Steve Jobs

"The reason you sugarcoat things is that you don't want anyone to think you're an asshole. So that's vanity... If he really cared about the work, he would be less vain and talk directly about the work." - Jony Ives

"On almost every film they make something turns out to be not quite right, and they have an amazing willingness to turn around and do it again until they do get it right. They have always had an amazing willingness to not be governed by the release date.It's not about how fast you do something. It's about doing your level best." Steve Jobs talking about something he learned at Pixar.


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