Book Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve JobsEarlier this week I finally finished the a tome of a biography on Steve Jobs.  Although lengthy, it provided a lot of insight to not only what made Steve Jobs tick, but also the inner workings of Apple, the computer industry, and history of the early PC.  What I found most fascinating about the book was not necessarily the genius of Steve Jobs, which we all know of, but that he was a flawed human being just like us all.  Quite frankly, on an interpersonal level, he was manipulative, stubborn, selfish, full of contradictions, saw the world in black and white, and just not a very nice person.  In spite of these major personal flaws, the guy was an genius artist (with the temperament to match) and rare visionary that created that most valuable company in the world and products that so many people around the world love.  Here are the top five things I came away with after reading the book.

1.  Brutal honesty aspires people who are talented to higher levels.  Although they may not like hearing it initially, getting clear and honest feedback may help someone get to a level they never thought was possible.

2.  If you feel strongly that something is right intuitively, stick with it, even if the majority is not in agreement with you.  This is where our genius comes from.

3.  A profit maximization mindset when it comes to delivering products and services is not a successful long-term strategy.  Instead focus on making great quality products or delivering delightful service, and profits are the outcome.  Companies run by marketing and salesmen normally deliver mediocre products to serve the masses.

4.  Maintain focus on a few core things and make them great, too many irons in the fire sub-optimize the things that could make a company great.  We can also apply this to life in general, our time and resources are limited, so when we dabble in many things, we never become great at the things that really matter to us.

5.  Be relentless in keeping things simple.  Steve Jobs was a minimalist and you see it in every product he’s created, from the Macintosh to the iPad.  The beauty of simplicity resonates with so many people.

Overall, I thought the book was a good read.  I am surprised that Steve Jobs “authorized” the biography since it isn’t very flattering in many regards, but I guess that’s what made him one of a kind.

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