Steve Jobs


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  • ISBN: 978-1451648539
  • My Rating: 5/10

Steve Jobs is the biography of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.

I was rather disappointed by this book. It feels incomplete and there is a lot of duplication.

My notes

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Apple's "Think Different" commercial, 1997

Introduction: How This Book Came to Be

Taking a long walk was his preferred way to have a serious conversation.

His more important goal was to do what Bill Hewlett and his friend David Packard had done, which was create a company that was so imbued with innovative creativity that it would outlive them.

I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of, but I don't have any skeletons in my closet that can't be allowed out.

Childhood: Abandoned and Chosen

He [Steve Jobs' father] loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn't see.

I love it when you can bring really great design and simple capability to something that doesn't cost much.

He grew up not only with a sense of having once been abandoned, but also with a sense that he was special. In his own mind, that was more important in the formation of his personality.

It soon became clear that Jobs, by both nature and nurture, was not disposed to accept authority.

Odd Couple: The Two Steves


The Dropout: Turn On, Tune In...

Jobs's craziness was of the cultivated sort. He had begun his lifelong experiments with compulsive diets, eating only fruits and vegetables, so he was as lean and tight as a whippet. He learned to stare at people without blinking, and he perfected long silences punctuated by staccato bursts of fast talking. This odd mix of intensity and aloofness, combined with his shoulder-length hair and scraggly beard, gave him the aura of a crazed shaman. He oscillated between charismatic and creepy.

He just said good-bye and walked out.

Patience was never one of his virtues.

Jobs's engagement with Eastern spirituality, and especially Zen Buddhism, was not just some passing fancy or youthful dabbling. He embraced it with his typical intensity, and it became deeply ingrained in his personality.

Steve is very much Zen. It was a deep influence. You see it in his whole approach of stark, minimalist aesthetics, intense focus.

Daniel Kottke

I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis.

His intensity, however, made it difficult for him to achieve inner peace; his Zen awareness was not accompanied by an excess of calm, peace of mind, or interpersonal mellowness.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay.

Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there's another side to the coin, and you can't remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important – creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.

Atari and India: Zen and the Art of Game Design

When he happened to interact with others, he was prone to informing them that they were "dumb shits".

The only reason I shone was that everyone else was so bad.

If you trust him, you can do things. If he's decided that something should happen, then he's just going to make it happen.

Elizabeth Holmes, early Apple employee

Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.

The Apple I: Turn On, Boot Up, Jack In...


The Apple II: Dawn of a New Age

He wanted – as he would his entire career – to provide power in a way that avoided the need for a fan. Fans inside computers were not Zen-like; they distracted.

Jobs's father had once taught him that a drive for perfection meant caring about the craftsmanship even of the parts unseen.

He [Mike Markkula] emphasized that you should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci

Chrisann and Lisa: He Who Is Abandoned...

When Jobs did not want to deal with a distraction, he sometimes just ignored it, as if he could will it out of existence.

Xerox and Lisa: Graphical User Interfaces

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

Alan Kay

Picasso had a saying – 'good artists copy, great artists steal' – and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.

In the annals of innovation, new ideas are only part of the equation. Execution is just as important.

Everything you've ever done in your life is shit, so why don't you come work for me?

Because I didn't know it couldn't be done, I was enabled to do it.

Bill Atkinson

Going Public: A Man of Wealth and Fame

I went from fairly poor, which was wonderful, because I didn't have to worry about money, to being incredibly rich, when I also didn't have to worry about money.

The Mac is born: You Say You Want a Revolution


The Reality Distortion Field: Playing by His Own Set of Rules

You did the impossible, because you didn't realize it was impossible.

Deborah "Debi" Coleman, early Mac team manager

Another key aspect of Jobs's worldview was his binary way categorizing things. People were either "enlightened" or "an asshole". Their work was either "the best" or "totally shitty". But these categories were not immutable, for Jobs could rapidly reverse himself.

There were some upsides to Jobs's demanding and wounding behavior. People who were not crushed ended up being stronger. They did better work, out of both fear and an eagerness to please.

If you were calmly confident, if Jobs sized you up and decided that you knew what you were doing, he would respect you.

We learned to interpret 'This is shit' to actually be a question that means, 'Tell me why this is the best way to do it.'

Bill Atkinson

The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater.

Andy Hertzfeld

I've learned over the years that when you have really good people you don't have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.

The Design: Real Artists Simplify

There should be no distinction between fine art and applied industrial design.

Jobs felt that design simplicity should be linked to making products easy to use.

The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious.

Great art stretches the taste, it doesn't follow tastes.

A great carpenter isn't going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody's going to see it.

Building the Mac: The Journey Is the Reward

He believed that for a computer to be truly great, its hardware and its software had to be tightly linked. When a computer was open to running software that also worked on other computers, it would end up sacrificing some functionality. The best products, he believed, were "whole widgets" that were designed end-to-end, with the software closely tailored to the hardware and vice versa.

It's better to be a pirate than to join the navy.

Enter Sculley: The Pepsi Challenge

We probably only have the opportunity to do a few things really great and do them well. None of us has any idea how long we're going to be here.

The Launch: A Dent in the Universe

He realized, deep inside, that he had increasingly abandoned the hacker spirit. [..] It [the Macintosh] was a closed and controlled system, like something designed by Big Brother rather than by a hacker.

Gates and Jobs: When Orbits Intersect

He [Steve Jobs] really never knew much about technology, but he had an amazing instinct for what works.

Bill Gates

Bill [Gates] is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas.

The best and most innovative products don't always win.

Icarus: What Goes Up...

It's too easy, as a team grows, to put up with a few B players, and they then attract a few more B players, and soon you will even have some C players. The Macintosh experience taught me that A players like to work only with other A players, which means you can't indulge B players.

He insisted that the Macintosh have just one floppy disk drive. If you wanted to copy data, you could end up with a new form of tennis elbow from having to swap floppy disks in and out of the single drive.

If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you've done and whoever you were and throw them away.

The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, 'Bye. I have to go. I'm going crazy and I'm getting out of here.' And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.

NeXT: Prometheus Unbound

I will solve your problem, and you will pay me. You can use what I produce, or not, but I will not do options, either way you will pay me.

Paul Rand

A great company must be able to impute its values from the first impression it makes.

Knowing it would be like walking a tightrope without a net, he decided to do the demonstration live.

One of Jobs's management philosophies was that it is crucial, every now and then, to roll the dice and "bet the company" on some new idea or technology.

When one reporter asked him immediately afterward why the machine was going to be so late, Jobs replied, "It's not late. It's five years ahead of its time."

Pixar: Technology Meets Art

My view is that people are creative animals and will figure out clever new ways to use tools that the inventor never imagined.

He [Steve Jobs] was so weirdly charismatic that you almost had to get deprogrammed after you talked to him.

Pam Kerwin

A Regular Guy: Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word

He [Steve Jobs] believed that great harvests came from arid sources, pleasure from restraint.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Our consumer desires are unhealthy and to attain enlightenment you need to develop a life of nonattachment and non-materialism.

I am a reflection of what I do.

Family Man: At Home with the Jobs Clan

Jobs had a way of focusing on something with insane intensity for a while and then, abruptly, turning away his gaze. At work, he would focus on what he wanted to, when he wanted to, and on other matters he would be unresponsive, no matter how hard people tried to get him to engage.

He wanted around him only things that he could admire, and that made it hard simply to go out and buy a lot of furniture.

Toy Story: Buzz and Woody to the Rescue

It's kind of fun to do the impossible.

Walt Disney

I can't tell you the number of versions of Toy Story I saw before it came out. It eventually became a form of torture.

Larry Ellison

There's no yacht in my future. I've never done this for the money.

Jobs was known during his career for creating great products. But just as significant was his ability to create great companies with valuable brands. And he created two of the best of his era: Apple and Pixar.

The Second Coming: What Rough Beast, Its Hour Come Round at Last...

They cared about making money – for themselves mainly, and also for Apple – rather than making great products.

Don't you understand that Steve doesn't know anything about technology? He's just a super salesman. I can't believe you're making such a stupid decision... He doesn't know anything about engineering, and 99% of what he says and thinks is wrong. What the hell are you buying that garbage for?"

Bill Gates to Gil Amelio

The Restoration: The Loser Now Will Be Later to Win

Jobs could be charming to people he hated just as easily as he could be insulting to people he liked.

It was in Jobs's nature to mislead or be secretive when he felt it was warranted. But he also indulged in being brutally honest at times, telling the truths that most of us sugarcoat or suppress.

For all of his willfulness and insatiable desire to control things, Jobs was indecisive and reticent when he felt unsure about something. He craved perfection, and he was not always good at figuring out how to settle for something less. He did not like to wrestle with complexity or make accommodations. This was true in products, design, and furnishings for the house. It was also true when it came to personal commitments. If he knew for sure a course of action was right, he was unstoppable. But if he had doubts, he sometimes withdrew, preferring not to think about things that did not perfectly suit him.

Most members of the board were aghast. Jobs was still refusing to commit himself to coming back full-time or being anything more than an advisor, yet he felt he had the power to force them to leave.

He [Gareth Chang] wasn't terrible, just a zero.

Think Different: Jobs as iCEO

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Jobs was able to encourage people to define themselves as anticorporate, creative, innovative rebels simply by the computer they used.

I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company.

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That's true for companies, and it's true for products.

People who know what they're talking about don't need PowerPoint.

Design Principles: The Studio of Jobs and Ive

I always understood the beauty of things made by hand. I came to realize that what was really important was the care that was put into it.

Jonathan "Jony" Ive

It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.

Simplicity isn't just a visual style. It's not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep.

Jonathan "Jony" Ive

You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.

Jonathan "Jony" Ive

Since we iterate every day and never have dumb-ass presentations, we don't run into major disagreements.

Jonathan "Jony" Ive

The iMac: Hello (Again)

Skate where the puck's going, not where it's been.

Wayne Gretzky

CEO: Still Crazy after All These Years

Just tell them if they fuck with us, they'll never get another fucking dime from this company, ever.

He was baffling everyone by taking only $1 a year in pay and no stock options. "I make 50 cents for showing up," he liked to joke, "and the other 50 cents is based on performance.

Had he accepted that modest grant, it would have been worth $400 million. Instead he made $2.50 during that period.

Apple Stores: Genius Bars and Siena Sandstone

On too many weekends, when he wasn't making me watch new scenes from Toy Story, he made me go to the warehouse and look at the mockups for the store. He was obsessed by every detail of the aesthetic and the service experience. It got to the point where I said, 'Steve I'm not coming to see you if you're going to make me go to the store again.'

Larry Ellison

If something isn't right, you can't just ignore it and say you'll fix it later. That's what other companies do.

The Digital Hub: From iTunes to the iPod

The mark of an innovative company is not only that it comes up with new ideas first, but also that it knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind.

If you need slides, it shows you don't know what you're talking about.

The iTunes Store: I'm the Pied Piper

In the end, you just don't want someone else to control a big part of the user experience.

When you're doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you're not going to cheese out. If you don't love something, you're not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much.

One of Jobs's business rules was to never be afraid of cannibalizing yourself. "If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will", he said.

Music Man: The Sound Track of His Life


Pixar's Friends: ...and Foes

There's a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That's crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they're doing, you say 'Wow', and soon you're cooking up all sorts of ideas.

My goal has always been not only to make great products, but to build great companies.

Twenty-First-Century Macs: Setting Apple Apart


Round One: Memento Mori

The flip side of his wondrous ability to focus was his fearsome willingness to filter out things he did not wish to deal with. This led to many of his great breakthroughs, but it could also backfire.

Alex Haley once said that the best way to begin a speech is "Let me tell you a story." Nobody is eager for a lecture, but everybody loves a story.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

The iPhone: Three Revolutionary Products in One


Round Two: The Cancer Recurs

Jobs had always been an extremely opinionated eater, with a tendency to instantly judge any food as either fantastic or terrible.

We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that's not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don't settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we're wrong and the courage to change. And I think, regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.

Tim Cook

I thought he [Steve Jobs] was calling to say something nice about it [Comcast's high-definition cable service]. Instead, he told me 'It sucks'

Brian Roberts

The iPad: Into the Post-PC Era


New Battles: And Echoes of Old Ones

By the way, what have you done that's so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others' work and belittle their motivations?

To Infinity: The Cloud, the Spaceship, and Beyond

Living with a disease like this, and all the pain, constantly reminds you of your own mortality, and that can do strange things to your brain if you're not careful. You don't make plans more than a year out, and that's bad. You need to force yourself to plan as if you will live for many years.

I didn't think I would be alive when it got done. But that made me so sad, and I decided that working on the design was fun to do, and maybe I have a shot at being alive when it's done. If I stop work on the boat and then I make it alive for another two years, I would be really pissed. So I've kept going.

Round Three: The Twilight Struggle

Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It's now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest, because they're dragging you down. They're turning you into Microsoft. They're causing you to turn out products that are adequate but not great.

Legacy: The Brightest Heaven of Invention

Buying an iPad for your kids isn't a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it's a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.

Cory Doctorow

My job is to say when something sucks rather than sugarcoat it.

My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It's a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything: the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.

Some people say, "Give the customers what they want." But that's not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do. [...] People don't know what they want until you show it to them.

I hate it when people call themselves "entrepreneurs" when what they're really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They're unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That's how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before.