My Four Takeaways from The Steve Jobs Bio

I'm sure volumes have been written about Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs bio, analyzing it from every which angle.  Such a timely release, and such a compelling subject.  Frankly, I haven't sought it out anyone else's opinion - wanted to read it without bias.

After getting through it, four takeaways are burned in my mind:

  1. Great does not equal Good.  Jobs was a great mind and businessman, but not a good person.  I'm 41lGhIX733L._SL500_AA300_ not sure if it's a decision he made, or just who we was.  But you have to ask yourself (and it's a very personal question): at the end of the day, would you rather be great at what you do, or good to the people you do it with?  
  2. Not all human beings are wired to envision the impossible.  Much is made in the book of Jobs' nearly Yoda-esq ability to distort others' reality, virtually willing them to do the impossible.  Very few of us have truly explored the fringes of our abilities.  Jobs was a man who helped those around him achieve what most considered impossible.  That's a beautiful thing.
  3. God (aka Mother Nature, aka biology) isn't susceptible to distorted reality.  Jobs may have been able to will software engineers to do the impossible, but his ignorance (I'd consider it arrogance) around his initial cancer diagnosis was some combination of naive, egotistical and frankly, selfish.
  4. Sell!  Sell!  Sell!  Here's one thing I feel pretty sure about - if you own Apple stock and have an investment horizon beyond about 5 years, sell it now. Jobs - for all his personality flaws - was Apple.  Not Ives.  Not Cook.  Not any of them.  Jobs.  It's not that every good idea was his.  Rather, that none of the good ideas would have turned out as great as they did without his embrace of doing the impossible.  I can think of no compelling argument why Apple will be the brilliant company it currently is without Jobs at the helm.

Read the book, it's pretty compelling.

Friday Links [Literary Edition]

I've always enjoyed reading -  historically magazines and newspapers, with blogs added to the mix over the last few years [the advent of RSS facilitated my consumption greatly].

There's the occasional book, but I'm just not wired to read in 300 page increments at a regular pace.

Anyway, I spent the last five days in Tucson, AZ with my wife and son, the latter looked after by an incredibly generous aunt, uncle and grandma.

Daytime childcare allowed me to spend days at the pool catching up on magazines, blogs and even a book.  Here are a few highlights ...

The Night of the Gun by David Carr [per @MarcSchil's recommendation]

Night of the gun

Carr, a reporter for The New York Times, pens a riveting memoir about his life as a drug addict, drunk; and his remarkable story of recovery [and ongoing struggles].  It is a book of extremes ... uplifting and depressing.  Generous and self-indulgent.  Funny and sad.  Beautiful and heinous.  I've admitted that I don't read a lot of books, so take this with a grain of salt - I strongly recommend this one.

Newsweek's Secrets of The 2008 Campaign
Abc_obama_clinton_mccain_080313_ms I'm only five months late to the game here, but this epic collection of behind-the-scenes accounts from various Newsweek reporters is incredible.  The 7-part report consists of "exclusive behind-the-scenes reporting from the McCain and Obama  camps assembled by a special team of reporters who were granted year-long access on the condition that none of  their findings appear until after Election Day."

As with all good political reporting, it incited a great debate in my family.  I thought the report painted McCain as the sympathetic character; everyone else disagreed.

It just occurred to me that Night of the Gun + Secrets of the 2008 Campaign = Fear and Loathing:  On the Campaign Trail '72, by Hunter S Thompson ... one of my all-time favorites.

I caught up on a lot of magazine reading.  Mostly GQ and Esquire.  Nothing mind-blowing to speak of, but I did find quite a few things I want to buy for the summer.  Among them ...

Mackintosh rain coat from JCrew ($800)

Jcrew coat

Gray Vans ($48)
An assortment of checked ties, like these in GQ


Levi's 501 White Jeans ($59.50)


Desert boots, kind of (but not exactly) like these from JCrew ($135)

Desert boot

Amazon Kindle

Thankfully I'm more of a magazine guy so no need for me to get caught up in this debate [unless you count Brown Bear and Goodnight Moon as books].  But seems to be a fairly robust conversation happening around Amazon's new ebook reader, Kindle.  So I present to you Piers Fawkes' top reasons Kindle will not make an impact on the market ...

  • It tries to charge $9.99 for digital content which as we know is going to be a difficult business to be in. You can charge for live content, fine - a book is live content, you hold it and turn its pages and experience it live, a ebook reader is not live content, just a window.
  • Appalling design. No, let’s just say it’s horrible.
  • Nausea. Have you ever tired to read a screen in a taxi or train?
  • Not Open Sourced. Another device that can’t be hacked, modified or made my own. A critical issue.
  • Doesn’t access Google Docs or 37 Signals. Does the target market really use Word that much these days?
  • Once you have an iPhone or any phone with podcasts and audiobooks, do you really need an e-book for being on the go? What sort of evolution does this represent?
  • $399
  • Even less control for the user: Amazon’s selection of RSSes not yours. And: Top international newspapers from France, Germany, and Ireland; Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine, and The Irish Times. Is that it?
  • It’s Black & White!
  • It’s got a keyboard!!
  • Another thing that uses electricity. What was wrong with books and sunlight?

And bonus:

  • You’re going to look a right wally taking that out on the 7.45am Brighton to London.

[Full post here]

Money for Nothing

My friend, Geoff, emailed me about a book called Money for Nothing by a guy called Ed Ugel [Geoff knows Ugel].  Looked it up on Amazon - it looks good.  Excerpt from the Amazon summary below.  Full summary and link to purchase here.

Atage twenty-six, Ed found himself broke, knee-deep in gambling debt, and moving back into his parents' basement. It all changed, however, when he serendipitously landed a job as a salesman for The Firm--a company that offered up-front cash to lottery winners in exchange for their prize money, often paid in agonizingly small annual payments, some lasting up to twenty-five years. For the better part of the ensuing decade, Ed spent his time closing deals with lottery winners, making a lucrative and legitimate--if sometimes not-so-nice--living by taking advantage of their weaknesses . . . weaknesses he knew all too well.

Ed met hundreds of lottery winners and saw up-close the often hilarious, sometime sad outcome when great wealth is dropped on ordinary people. Once lottery winners realized their "dream-come-true" multimillion jackpots were not all that they were cracked up to be, Ed would knock on their door, offering them the cash they wanted-and often desperately need. This cash sometimes came at a high price, but winners were rarely in a position to walk the other way. As Ed learned, few of them had the financial savvy to keep up with the lottery-winner lifestyle. In fact, some just wanted their old lives back.