Steve Jobs

In many ways, Steve Jobs - the book, like the character it's portraying is complicated, graceful, beautiful, agonizing, inspiring, and enlightening all in one. There are so many professional reviews out there so I'll be short. There are three major things that popped out at me.

First, Walter Isaacson is a phenomenal writer. His style is conversational and engaging enough that you forget you are reading a book. You're pulled into the story as he skillfully interjects real quotes wrapped in detailed context. I have not read such a beautifully crafted book since To Kill a Mockingbird. Steve Jobs represents what English is meant to be.

We all knew Steve Jobs is a pretty mean guy, so I wasn't really surprised about anything regarding his personality. Nor do I feel like he was wrong in being so mean. People naturally lean towards one side of the coin: be liked or be effective. Most people find a healthy mix. The only reason Apple climbed the top of the world is because Steve sacrificed the "be liked" portion of his personality. It worked, it's enlightening, but it clearly brings the issue to light: which one is more important to you? As Steve says: "Polite and velvety leaders, who take care to avoid bruising others, are generally not as effective at forcing change". I'm not advocating being mean, I'm advocating being aware of your choice.

However, the deepest question I kept asking to myself while reading the book was, is it worth it? While on his death bed, Steve kept working at the expense of family and friend time. Walter portrays Steve as a relatively happy guy, deeply proud of his work. But on a personal level, is it all worth it? The hours, the lives hurt by Steve's temper tantrums, the absolute dedication to work at the expense of personal relationships. Is building the iPad more important? Sociologists and happiness reports say that few people wish they spent more time at the office on their death bed. With Steve, it feels like he wished he had more time to work. Alas, one of life's hardest questions with another data point to think about.

I've learned so many things via Steve and I'm an Apple fanboi, yet regardless of how you feel about Steve Jobs and Apple, the biography is a great book that's worth a read. And like the Walter's graceful conclusion, I too shall defer to Steve with my favorite quote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”