I am about halfway through the Steve Jobs biography, although I must say I peeked at the end, because I heard that Walter Isaacson gave Jobs a chance to speak for himself at the end.
While every biography is only one person’s piecing together of a story, one thing does seem clear. Steve Jobs was not nice person.
In his mind, (and this is why I felt it necessary to read Jobs own account at the end) Jobs felt that he did what he needed to do to make people step up to the job and to get incompetent people out of the game. Everything had to lead to the vision he had in his mind for the product—the magic he created came from an uncompromising focus. Jobs felt he did what he needed to do to create art.
But reading what that meant in the details of the book is not easy. People are toyed with, manipulated, hurt, and certainly treated without any compassion. Although his family life is not discussed much (at least not to the point where I have read) even his own account suggests that his approach took its toll on his family.
Of course he had his failures. But his successes were spectacular. He did create art. He did lead a revolution in film and music and computers.
Demanding adherence to a utopian vision, refusing to compromise, and pushing beyond what seems realistic—this is almost by definition what creates art.
When you look at the life of the greatest artists I wonder if this is what you’ll see. Is it really part of the deal? You get a great gift and in exchange does it come at a great cost to the people around you?
- Keen On… Walter Isaacson: Assessing Steve Jobs’ Historic Influence (techcrunch.com)
- Walter Isaacson Plans Annotated, Updated Steve Jobs Bio, But Don’t Expect A Chapter On Philanthropy (cultofmac.com)