Although I connected Steve Jobs and Apple, and used iPod touch profusely, I never took much of an interest in the story behind it all (albeit belonging to the computer industry). I am not much into reading anything that can be beneficial. Always a fan of novels; I ran away from biographies and such but the passing away of Steve Jobs and the way my colleagues fervently lamented his death made me feel a bit out of loop, well, a LOT out of loop.
How come I don’t know a thing about Jobs whereas everyone else seems to be an ardent fan and are actually moaning over his death?
So we can say that it’s a good thing that his biography by Walter Isaacson was released soon after. And I got my hands on it with the undaunting determination of completing it and I was able to do that because of the way it was written – brilliantly and simply. Walter Isaacson while narrating the story of Steve Jobs – the man behind Apple – was able to keep the reader’s interest intact. Hats off to Mr. Isaacson.
“Put a dent in the universe” is the slogan Jobs went by. And a true depiction of this statement are the products he parented; Macintost, iPod, iPhone, iPad and many other ideas and concepts. This book is the account of a person who changed the path computer industry took, revolutionizing the way we perceive technology and raising consumer expectations to a level so that other companies had no choice but to follow the lead.
The book narrates the story of how Apple came into being, how and why he was ousted from Apple, how that led to the creation of an animation studio PIXAR, how he again got involved with Apple, how he blew life into this dying company, how till his own death he kept coming up with great products that changed history and how he set the culture of Apple; encoding innovation in its DNA.
Jobs was an ardent advocate of the belief; imparted by his father during his childhood; that the parts one cannot see should also be designed beautifully and with the same amount of care as you design the outside. All Apple products are proof of this philosophy.
Steve Jobs was not only the pioneer in introducing great products, but also his innovative ideas reinvigorated the products that other companies have already been designing. While reading the chronicle of how each of Apple’s product was invented – the thought process involved, the way each player paid attention to minute details especially the way Steve Jobs would fret over a small aberration which will be ignored by most, and how he and his team strived to perfect their products even if it meant to work extra hours, or even if meant to start again from the very beginning if they realized just before completion that they’ve ‘gotten it all wrong’ – one would too be compelled to put the same amount of dedication in their own products. Being a software engineer I was motivated (if only till I held the book in my hands) to aim to drive the softwares I write to perfectionism, the best in their league.
He did not restrict Apple to only producing computers. He revolutionized the music industry by inventing iPod, infiltrated the cell phone industry by bringing out iPhone. He came up with iPad which was initially deemed an unnecessary endeavor but later on embraced by the masses. He was a control-freak and detested anything that would mar the utmost beauty of his product and so Apple stared designing the cover of iPad as well.
The innovative ideas and dedication to perfectionism didn’t go as far as the creation of products only. In fact, the same amount of dazzling creativity constituted each of the product’s launch and advertisements. I have made it a point to watch all the launching ceremonies and ads just so that I can witness Steve Jobs’ style and presentation skills as they were described in the book. Although I have watched most of PIXAR’s movies, I would now like to rewatch them, EACH of them.
Reading Apple’s case studies would help companies in infusing spirit throughout their own organizations and instill strong believes in commitment, dedication and hard work. It takes a lot to build a company, bringing it back from ‘near-death’, taking it to new heights and keeping it there. Steve Jobs did it all. He too made mistakes but he also took the responsibility of rectifying them.
Walter Isaacson with this book has also brought Steve Jobs’ personality to light (along with his business skills). He was not devoid of faults. Readers will meet his darker side. He judged everything and everyone based on a binary system which dictated that either something is “insanely great” or it “completely sucked” (to put in his own words). He also did not refrain from voicing his opinion. He would loudly and clearly appreciate or insult (even fire) people. But he admired people who shared this trait of honesty (bordering on brutality). The story has been narrated till the very end, including his fight with cancer and finally his resignation from Apple.
I realized just now that this so called book review is sounding more like the character sketch we used to write for our intermediate examinations. But consider this as a teaser for what the book holds. It is a must read. So go on, grab yourself a copy.
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Some Steve Jobs quotes from the book:
Curiosity is very important.
There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow’, and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.
If something isn’t right, you can’t just ignore it and say you’ll fix it later. That’s what other companies do.