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I just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. My dad gave me the book for Christmas and I’ve picked it up a few times the last few months to try to make my way through it. Unfortunately for me, the first 50 or so pages were real work to get through. Once I got past that, I couldn’t put the book down (the next 500 pages!).

Steve was a a lot of things: from being inspiring and a creative genius and insightful and insanely-driven, to being arrogant and delusional and belligerent and a flat-out jerk.

By the way, I think these thoughts as I type on an invention that wouldn’t exist if not for him: the iPad 2.

And my mind goes back to living a few miles from him in Palo Alto, CA when Apple was revolutionizing computing (and my classmates’ lives) though the release of the Mac.

I’m finding it hard to write my one big take-away. His passion for releasing game-changing products to the world is absolutely inspiring to me. (And I remember that I headed from KC to Silicon Valley to be a part of that world). At the same time, even his closest frinds knew he had a complete lack of empathy for others, coupled with a generous mean-streak. I am absolute committed to the fact that world-changing leadership doesn’t have to be infused with that (i.e. see how Jesus lead people).

My mind is still spinning on his life. I guess that’s the point of a good biography.


Here are some of the other notes I jotted at the end of the book:

(1) Innovation = New Ideas PLUS Execution (they are equally important).

(2) A saleman’s joke, “What’s the difference between Apple and the Boy Scouts? The Boy Scouts have adult supervision.”

(3) Steve’s comment that motivations matter. When you’re working to actually make life better for yourself or others (instead of focusing on the numbers), you’ll go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, and challenge the status quo. If not, you’ll “cheese out.”

(4) Alex Haley’s comment that the best way to start a speech is to say, “I want to tell you a story.”

(5) Henry Ford’s comment about the limitations of market research: “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they havE said ‘a faster horse’!”

(6) Steve’s thought that you should never be afraid of one department “cannibalizing” another department’s business, because it someone else will cannibalize it anyway.

(7) Steve’s thought that the hardest work in the world is to build a company that stands the test of time a generation or two away.

(8) Steve’s admission that everything he did depended on “other members of our species and the shoulders of those I stand on.”

Steve Jobs Biography