Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I finished reading (rather lately though it was in my list for long) the biography of Steve Jobs. And what an experience it was to know the life of innovative and equally crazy person. An adopted child grows to mesmerize the world and brings change to the way people live in his own way. He was always honest and brutal many a times so most people found it difficult to work with him though they admired his thinking. When he was at school he was busy with pranks involving electronic gadgets than making friends. One of his childhood friends, Steve Wozniak, one more person obsessive with electronics, made a good friend of Steve Jobs and both went on to found the business of designing, making and selling computers which is called Apple.

Being abandoned by his biological parents hurt Steve Jobs a lot though the parents who adopted him poured all their love and care and spent their life savings to send him to college. Steve later in his life tracks his biological mother and learns that he has a sister, Monica Simpson, who becomes a confidant of Steve for the rest of his life. When Monica traces their biological father, Steve refuses to meet him.

While he mastered the subject of electronics, his personal life was not a conventional one. He goes to India to learn spirituality. He takes up arts as his subject of study for graduation and does not complete it as he thought it is a financial drain of his parent’s earnings. But incomplete academics were not a drag on his future and the artistic bent of mind of he developed had put him at the junction of technology and art and the products he designed and developed were on the hands of millions of people all over the world.

His personal life was erratic many a times. He makes his girlfriend pregnant and refuses to acknowledge that he is the father of the child for many years after the birth of child, only to take responsibility of her later in life. His attitude towards co-workers earns him a bad name and he is thrown out from running operations of Apple, the company he founded. He starts another company, brings out many creative products but none of them see big commercial success but establish him as an innovator in the industry and that experience also teaches him how to manage a company and not just design products. Apple, in Steve’s absence looses market share as it fails to bring out exciting products after the initial Macintosh product line. Steve is called back and the successful products begin to roll out again putting back both Apple and Steve at the helm. When the products of Apple were a competition to their own products, Steve had said “We need to cannibalize our own products, else someone will”.

This book was the #1 best-seller on Amazon in 2011. When you read this book, you will know why a perfectionist like Steve Jobs was insisting Walter Isaacson to write this biography. It is based on multiple interviews of the author with Steve Jobs and discussions with numerous other people. This book provides multiple perspectives about Steve Jobs, his life as seen by himself and others.