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:
- Great does not equal Good. Jobs was a great mind and businessman, but not a good person. I'm 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.