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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Steve Jobs Wasn't Cuddly. Neither Are You.

"Steve Jobs," the new biography of the tech icon by author Walter Issacson, is a fascinating story of one of the most successful innovators of recent times.  Issacson succeeds not only because his subject is complicated and contradictory, wildly successful though deeply troubled, but because, really, Steve Jobs' character is accessible

It's worth recalling that Jobs only hit his true stride in this century.  Though Apple began in 1970's, it could have died the death of other early computer companies - and it almost did.   It's status today as one of the most successful American businesses of all time is directly related to the lessons that Jobs learned throughout his career, which included a forced exile from his beloved company for eleven years, during which he created another computer company (NeXT) and became the patron saint of another iconic brand (Pixar).

Jobs was famously volatile, but loyal (when he wanted to be).  He developed an intuition for product design and development which led his company to create the technology that has transformed our times, yet his single-minded focus - his obsessive personality - may have prevented him from seeking medical help at a time when it might have saved his life.

The biography is effective precisely because Issacson doesn't lift Jobs onto a pedestel.  He was an imperfect human being, like every other human being..  As time moves on, and his directly hand on Apple product fades into the past, his legacy may shift into one of a man who succeeded in spite of himself - and which is really the story of all of us.

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