Walter Isaacson 2011
The Book Jacket Blurb:
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years -- as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues -- Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.
Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.
Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple's hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character leadership and values.
What Hooked Me:
Once in a rare while a real genius comes along and changes the world. For this fast-changing technological era, that person was Steve Jobs. I imagine that if Steve Jobs would have read this book, he would have liked all the technical details that successfully, albeit tediously outlined the development and fruition of the incredible Apple products that he innovated. I would also imagine, that as seemingly insensitive and blunt his personality and ways were, he would have loved the touching, albeit sparse personal stories about his deep affection for family and friends.
'When Paul Jobs was mustered out of the Coast Guard after World War II, he made a wager with his crewmates. They had arrived in San Francisco, where their ship was decommissioned, and Paul bet that he would find himself a wife within two weeks.'(opening lines)
'Jobs also became deeply influenced by an emphasis that Buddhism places on intuition. "I begun to realize than an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis," he later said. His intensity however, made it difficult for him to achieve inner peace; his Zen awareness was not accompanied by an excess of calm, peace of mind, or interpersonal mellowness.'(35)
'Coming back after seven months in Indian villages, I saw the craziness of the Western world as well as its capacity for rational thought. If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there' s room to hear more subtle things -- that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.'(49)
'The Atari experience helped shape Job's approach to business and design. He appreciated the user-friendliness of Atari's insert-quarter-avoid-Klingons games. "That simplicity rubbed off on him and made him a very focused product person," said Ron Wayne. Hobs also absorbed some of Bushnell's take-no-prisoners attitude. "Nolan wouldn't take no for an answer," according to Alcorn, "and this was Steve's first impression of how things get done. Nolan was never abusive, like Steve sometimes is. But he had the same driven attitude. It made me cringe, but dammit, it got things done. In that way Nolan was a mentor for Jobs."
Bushnell agreed. "There is something indefinable in an entrepreneur, and I saw that in Steve," he said. "He was interested not just in engineering, but also the business aspects. I taught him that if you act like you can do something, then it will work. I told him, 'Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.'"'(54-55)
'Markkula wrote his principles in a one-page paper titled "The Apple Marketing Philosophy" that stressed three points. The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer: "We will truly understand their needs better than any other company." The second was focus: "In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all the unimportant opportunities." The third and equally important principle, awkwardly named, was impute. It emphasized that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys. "People DO judge a book by its cover," he wrote. "We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities."'(78)
'The Apple raid on Xerox PARC is sometimes described as one of the biggest heists in the chronicles of industry. Jobs occasionally endorsed this view, with pride. As he once said, "Picasso had a saying -- 'good artists copy, great artists steal' -- and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."'(98)
'When members of the Mac team got ensnared in his reality distortion field, they were almost hypnotized. "He reminded me of Rasputin," said Debi Coleman. "He laser-beamed in on you and didn't blink. It didn't matter if he was serving purple Kool-Aid. You drank it." But like Wozniak, she believed that the reality distortion field was empowering: It enabled Jobs to inspire his team to change the course of computer history with a fraction of the resources of Xerox or IBM. "It was a self-fulfilling distortion," she claimed. "You did the impossible, because you didn't realize it was impossible."'(118-119)
'... Jobs most poignant ruminations were about growing old and facing the future:
Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them.
I'll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I'll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I'm not there, but I'll always come back...'(189-190)
'Jobs has told Egan, as he had a few other friends, about his premonition that he would not live a long life. That was why he was driven and impatient, he confided. "He felt a sense of urgency about all he wanted to get done," Egan later said.'(262)
'By this point, based on his dating history, a matchmaker could have put together a compromise sketch of the woman who would be right for Jobs. Smart, yet unpretentious. Tough enough to stand up to him, yet Zen-like enough to rise about turmoil. Well-educated and independent, yet ready to make accommodations for him and a family. Down-to-earth, but with a touch of the ethereal. Savvy enough to know how to manage him, but secure enough to not always need to. And it wouldn't hurt to be beautiful, lanky blonde, with an easygoing sense of humor who like organic vegetarian food.'(267-268)
(with wife Laurene Powell)
'For all his willfulness and insatiable desire to control things, Jobs was indecisive and reticent when he felt unsure about something. He craved perfection, and he was not always good at figuring out how to settle for something less. He did not like to wrestle with complexity or make accommodations. ... This attitude arose partly out of his tendency to see the world in binary terms. A person was either a hero or a bozo, a product was either amazing or shit. But he could be stymied by things that were more complex, shaded, or nuanced: getting married, buying the right sofa, committing to run a company. In addition, he didn't want to be set up for failure.'(315-316)
'But those who could stand up to Jobs, including Clow and his teammates Ken Segall and Craig Tanimoto, were able to work with him to create a tone poem that he liked. In its original sixty-second version it read:
Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They'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 can't do is ignore them. 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.'(329)
'The result was that Apple engineers and managers suddenly became sharply focused on just four areas. For the professional desktop quadrant, they would work on making the Power Macintosh G3. For the professional portable, there would be the PowerBook G3. For the consumer desktop, work would begin on what would become the iMac. And for the consumer portable, they would focus on what would become the iBook. The "i," Jobs later explained, was to emphasize that the devices would be seamlessly integrated with the Internet.'(338)
'That was the fundamental principle Jobs and Ive shared. Design was not just about what a product looked like on the surface. It had to reflect the product's essence. "in most people's vocabularies, design means veneer," Jobs told Fortune shortly after retaking the reins at Apple. "But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers."'(343)
'In the process, however, he became friends with Miyake and would visit him regularly. He also came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, because of both its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style. "so I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them." Jobs noticed my surprise when he told this story, so he gestured to them stacked up in the closet. "That's what I wear." he said. "I have enough to last for the rest of my life."'(362)
'Suddenly everything had fallen into place: a drive that would hold a thousand songs; an interface and scroll wheel that would let you navigate a thousand songs; a FireWire connection that could sync a thousand songs in under ten minutes; and a battery that would last through a thousand songs. "We suddenly were looking at one another and saying. "This is going to be so cool," Jobs recalled. "we know how cool it was, because we knew how badly we each wanted one personally. And the concept became so beautifully simple: a thousand songs in your pocket." One of the copywriters suggested they call it a "Pod." Jobs was the one who, borrowing from the iMac and iTunes names, modified that to iPod.'(390)
'As competitors stumbled and Apple continued to innovate, music became a larger part of Apple's business. In January 2007 iPod sales were half of Apple's revenues. The device also added luster to the Apple brand. But an even bigger success was the iTunes Store. Having sold one million songs in the first six days it was introduced in April 2003, the store went on to sell seventy million songs in its first year. In February 2006 the store sold its one billionth song when Alex Ostrovsky, sixteen, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, bought Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" and got a congratulatory call from Jobs, bestowing upon him ten iPods, an iMac, and a $10,000 music gift certificate.'(410)
'Although he rarely gave speeches other than his staged product demonstrations, he accepted Stanford's invitation to give its June 2005 commencement address. He was in a reflective mood after his health scare and turning fifty. ... The students were unusually attentive, despite a plane circling overhead with a banner that exhorted "recycle all e-waste," and it was his third tale that enthralled them. It was about being diagnosed with cancer and the awareness it brought:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
The artful minimalism of the speech gave it simplicity, purity, and charm. Search where you will, from anthologies to YouTube, and you won't find a better commencement address.'(457)
"Well, I'd give a lot to have Steve's taste," Gates answered. There was a bit of nervous laughter; Jobs had famously said, ten years earlier, that his problem with Microsoft was that it had absolutely no taste. But Gates insisted he was serious. Jobs was a "natural in terms on intuitive taste." He recalled how he and Jobs used to sit together reviewing the software that Microsoft was making for the Macintosh. "I'd see Steve make the decisions based on a sense of people and product that, you know, is hard for me to explain. The way he does things is different and I think it's magical. And in that case, wow."'(464)
Three revolutionary products in One
An iPod That Makes Calls'(465)
'It hit me that, for young people, this whole world is the same now. When we're making products, there is no such thing as a Turkish phone, or a music player that young people in Turkey would want that's different from one young people elsewhere would want. We're just one world now."(528)
'He has never, in two years, asked anything about what I was putting in the book or what conclusions I had drawn. But now he looked at me and said, "I know there will be a lot in your book I won't like." It was more a question than a statement, and when he stared at me for a response, I nodded, smiled, and said I was sure that would be true. "That's good," he said. "Then it won't seem like an in-house book. I won't read it for a while, because I don't want to get mad. Maybe I will read it in a year -- if I'm still around." By then, his eyes were closed and his energy gone, so I quietly took my leave.'(557)
'The unified field theory that ties together Job's personality and products begins with his most salient trait: his intensity. His silences could be searing as his rants; he had taught himself to stare without blinking. Sometimes his intensity was charming, in a geeky way, such as when he was explaining the profundity of Bob Dylan's music or why whatever product he was unveiling at that moment was the most amazing thing Apple had ever made. At other times it could be terrifying, such as when he was fulminating about Google or Microsoft ripping off Apple.'(561)
'Some people say, "Give the customers what they want." But that's not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do.'(567)
'He admitted that, as he faced death, he might be overestimating the odds out of a desire to believe in an afterlife. "I like to think that something survives after you die," he said. "It's strange to think that you accumulate all this experience, and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away. So I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures."
He fell silent for a very long time. "But on the other hand, perhaps it's like an on-off switch," he said. "Click! And you're gone."
First Simon and Schuster hardcover edition November 2011
Book borrowed from the Library
All photos are from Google image searches