Steve Jobs was a very complex person, charming and seductive when he wanted to be, manipulative and scathing when he didn’t get his wishes. Tim Cook, the current CEO, described him as passionate, which is true. But Isaacson also shed light on the costs of his obsessions and creativity, which is not always equivalent to a loss of millions of dollars, but sometimes, good relationships with co-workers and friends and wives, daughters, and children.
It is a blessed thing to own an Apple device (I read this book from my tablet), but knowing now how it came to be and how one man and many others gave their mad passion to it, makes me an active part of that history too.
Here are ten things I learned about Steve Jobs from Isaacson’s up to the minute writing.
1. His beginnings were not humble. He didn’t climb the ladder of success, so to speak. Despite having a good background in electronics, he never worked hard with his hands like most craftsmen and designers he would admire all throughout his career. What he had in the beginning were two things: the tremendous luck of meeting Steve Wozniak and the obsession to realize his vision of what a friendly computer should be.
2. He had a questionable sense of reality, going barefoot around campus in his college days and completely forgetting hygiene, which offended the tech executives he used to meet before creating Apple. He admitted to going on fasting, not always for spiritual or health reasons, but to be in constant ecstasy mode.
3. He was a bit of a madman, ordering the painting of machinery and factory ceilings and walls just to suit his taste and most likely, to counter his boredom.
4. He took his return to Apple in 1997 very seriously, not taking a CEO’s salary, which I already know, for the reason that he didn’t want the employees to think that he came back only to be rich, which I didn’t know. He was very manager-like when he returned, focusing Apple on the important things. My admiration for him started at this point, because for once, he wasn’t only getting by through his vision and imagination, but was actually thinking and strategizing to save Apple.
5. He was a mix of cold, confusing, and spacey lover, admirer, father, and husband, forgetting for many months that he proposed to his future wife or just plain forgetting that he had a daughter out of wedlock.
6. When he told his friend, Larry Ellison, You don’t need more money, I thought it was one of the wisest and most intimate things that Steve Jobs said to a friend, who also happens to be Oracle’s Chief Technology Officer. This is one side of Steve’s personality that was more famous when he asked then Pepsi CEO, John Sculley, if he wanted to sell sugared water for the rest of his life.
7. He was a very emotional man, not afraid to cry in front of people when the mood overcame him. When he saw a journalist at a party, he cried on the spot because he remembered how the writer speculated about his health.
8. His cancer spread not because it was severe when he was first diagnosed, but because he refused to have the recommended surgery immediately after diagnosis, to the horror of his family and friends. This was probably Steve Jobs’ most extreme irrational and costly move that only he can explain. Only he didn’t.
9. He denied himself the lifestyle of a millionaire, owning a jet plane only after having a third child and only when Apple gave it to him as compensation. He never thought of owning a yacht and only started to build and design one for his family after he had cancer. He said it symbolized his hold on life, that if he continued working on the boat, he might live longer.
10. His intuitive and artistic taste didn’t only extend to Apple products, but also to Apple and iTunes ads which were released only after his approval. He would have made a great filmmaker if he didn’t become an Apple founder first.