I was a little surprised when Steve Jobs died that I actually had an emotional reaction of loss. He was always such a warrior for technological evolution, conceiving products that we didn't know we needed until we held them in our hands. I didn't know I needed an iPod, now I can't travel anywhere without slipping 13,000 songs into my pocket. I now have a playlist for any situation, a wedding, a long drive, robbing a bank, meditation etc. What was so unique about Jobs was that he was a creative person who also had the power to bring a progressive product to life. Good ideas did not die in committee at Apple or Pixar. For some reason conservative leaning people elevate to the highest positions in business in this country. Apple also went through a period of time when Jobs was too radical for a board of directors who wanted to make Apple more like other companies. After reading this biography, I know now that Jobs deserved to be ousted, and what a great occurrence for the world because Pixar would have never been created. He benefited from his time away, learning lessons of consolidating power. When Apple floundered and Jobs was brought back he was much better equipped to lead a company
I have always been mystified by the divisions in the country between Apple and Microsoft. I have owned a lot more Apple products than I have PC based products. So without even realizing I guess at some point I joined team Jobs. I used Apples and PCs without really thinking I was being disloyal to a brand, but I have been on the periphery of many heated arguments discussing the merits of PC versus the merits of Macs. I always felt that Jobs was the guy with the concepts and ideas and Gates was sitting around twiddling his thumbs waiting for Jobs to come up with the next "great thing" so he could clone it. There is more truth in that statement than fervent PC believers would like to admit.
One of Jobs ex-girlfriends happened to read in a psychiatric manual about Narcissistic personality Disorder and decided that Jobs perfectly met the criteria. "It fit so well and explained so much of what we had struggled with, that I realized expecting him to be nicer or less self-centered was like expecting a blind man to see." Jobs was brutal to his employees, to his family, and to his business partners. One of his favorite lines when looking at a new concept was to say "this is shit". He was a ranter, skilled with skewering insults, contemptuously rude, and yet so sensitive to any slight. When faced with a fond memory or a beautiful concept that he loved he would burst into tears. To say the least, being in the Steve Jobs orbit would have been not only stressful, but confusing. The people that did the best with him were the people that pushed through the "distortion field" that Jobs was nestled in his whole life. For all his failings as a human being and as a boss he was also a talented communicator inspiring people way beyond what they thought they were capable of accomplishing. He firmly believed that nothing was worth doing unless it was going to change the world and that belief was infectious to those that worked with him.
When Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer I can remember thinking to myself that no one had ever beaten that form of cancer, but I also thought to myself if anyone can it would be Steve Jobs. His money bought him time. They were able to map the gene of the cancer that was trying to kill him and better target chemo and drugs that would most effectively control the growth of the cancer. "One of his doctors told him that there was hope that his cancer, and others like it, would soon be considered a manageable chronic disease, which could be kept at bay until the patient died of something else." As Jobs said, "I'm either going to be one of the first to be able to outrun a cancer like this, or I'm going to be one of the last to die from it." As we know he lost his battle with cancer, but certainly the money he threw at the disease will end up benefiting all of us.
Walter Isaacson is an excellent biographer, I enjoyed his Benjamin Franklin bio very much and intend to read the Einstein biography as well. Steve approached Isaacson to write his biography and Isaacson asked him if he wanted him to write it because he associated himself with Einstein and Franklin. Jobs didn't deny it. He was well aware of his place in history. I liked Steve Jobs more before reading this biography. I have a deeper understanding of how and why he was so successful. I can not emulate his management style nor would I ever want to. He was a destructive personality that inspired creativity. I feel we are diminished by his absence from the ranks and I can only hope there is a young person in a messy garage, tinkering with the concept that will be the next "thing" that will change our lives.