From the start, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, paints a picture of a teen with big ambitions. Throughout his life, Jobs never toned down those ambitions; a persistence that would lead him astray from his brainchild Apple Computers, before finally settling into his permanent shoes. The book portrays a shockingly sensitive man, but a man who knows exactly what he expects out of himself and his employees: the world. And somehow, through what many refer to as Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” he nearly achieves it. He took a garage hobby, and turned it into the largest company in the world. The entire world.
On several occasions in his company’s history, the man set goals widely perceived as impossible, and somehow pushed his employees to achieve them. ‘Perception’ is the keyword throughout the Jobs saga. The lesson to be learned is that perception is a misleading underestimation of possibility. This is something we’ve heard and read in various forms, but rarely in a complete tale have we so clearly seen that challenging what we perceive as possible is vital to achieving great things.
Through all 650 pages I bounced between loving and hating Jobs, who backstabbed, lied, and cried about nearly everything. And then I would be reminded of his true passion. Creating good products, to the point of obsession, was his goal from the moment him and his early partner Steve Wozniak created their earliest projects. It was hard to stay mad at a man who didn’t care about the money (for a while he worked as an interim-CEO for just $1 a year), wasn’t afraid to offend people with his true opinion (a staple of his personality), and helped others accomplish what they never thought they could (even people he had hurt admitted his amazing ability to drive people towards great achievement).
‘Steve Jobs’ is a lecture on business, leadership, and persistence. The book made me feel equipped to assess and challenge my own perceptions, and look at aspects of design in our world in a dramatically different light. I can confidently say that through Isaacson’s and Jobs’ words, aspects of my thought process have been changed for the better. While many people may never pick up the book, it is through each other that his ideas and principles can persist and spread. There was much to be learned from a man like Jobs, but through his story he has passed the torch to its readers. We are a new generation of innovators and visionaries, and once we establish what is possible, it’s our duty to reach a little bit higher.