Author Background: Walter Isaacson is the former Chairman and CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of TIME. He has written multiple biographies about some of America’s greats, from Benjamin Franklin to Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs.
Who should add it to their reading list: Anyone who loves Apple, creativity, and innovation or anyone who just wants a peek into the mind of a brilliant individual who is always thinking of the consumer.
The Premise: The biography chronicles the life of Steve Jobs from his birth to death. It highlights his experience at Apple, NeXT, and Pixar, and exemplifies his brilliance (and rash personality) every step of the way.
The Cliff Notes: For this one, I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a biography, so you all know the basic story — Jobs founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak (known as “Woz”) in a garage at his parents house. Although the company was initially successful, they faced major setbacks and competition in the 1980s. He left the company and returned in the late 1990s, where he helped pave the way for some of Apple’s most notable contributions: the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. However, the details are what makes the story and Isaacson does a fabulous job of giving readers an honest, insightful view into the life and mind of Steve Jobs. Those details matter but here are the big takeways from one of America’s most innovative thinkers…
- He combined his love for art with his love for technology. In one part of the book, Isaacson shares that Jobs developed a love for modern typography after taking a traditional calligraphy class in college. He was constantly combining his passion for art to make his machines better.
- User-friendly means tightly controlled. Macintosh computers were so radically different than others on the market because Jobs believed in controlling the user experience from beginning to end. He wanted his company to create the hardware, the software, the packaging, and everything in between. Everything about Apple is about the experience — it’s user-focused and consumer-friendly.
- Nothing short of perfection was acceptable. In the book, we see how Jobs was absolutely obsessed with perfection. (This certainly didn’t help mellow his rash personality at all.) However, this obsession can teach other businesses a very important lesson: if you’re going to do something, do it right. If you want to be the best, create the best. Throughout Apple’s history, Jobs pulled the plug on a product launch if there was something — anything — wrong.