Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review: ‘Steve Jobs’ by Walter Isaacson

'Steve Jobs' by Walter IsaacsonFrom 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.


Financial Book Review: “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis

From the author of "The Blind Side"The Postgrad Agenda is no literature review blog, but something about Michael Lewis’ thorough account of our nation’s financial decline has compelled me to publish a short review on it. If you have ever been interested in the cause or mechanisms behind our economic collapse, this is your story. I initially picked up the book because I wanted more clarity surrounding why this country is in financial shambles. To understand the destruction, you’ve got to understand the beast! I had been doing a lot of blog and article reading on the topic, and I also watched the Academy Award-winning documentary “Inside Job,” which I highly recommend to anyone who feels they are more visual learners. “The Big Short” has undoubtedly served as the most comprehensive written history of the downfall that I have encountered yet.

In it, you meet an animated cast of (real) characters who were all a part of the interconnected web that was pre-decline Wall Street. These people are presented in such a manner that this whole book truly reads like an intense fictional story with twists and turns (unfortunately for millions and millions of U.S. citizens, every bit of it is true). Lewis walks you through the process from the very beginnings of the markets that crashed, not just the beginning of our problems. He makes a valiant effort to explain very complex financials ideas and instruments in layman’s terms. More often than not he succeeds in doing this, though the latter parts of the book may lose some readers who have less background knowledge of the system. Ironically, it is stressed repeatedly that the very instruments responsible for the decline are not even widely understood within the industry! Nonetheless, Lewis does a great job at making the book read in a conversational style; it steers far clear of a textbook explanation.

Though I haven’t read volumes of related books to compare to, I highly suggest that anyone interested in understanding the disaster that changed our country pick up this book. If I can guarantee one thing to you, it’s that you will close the book having learned not just one, not two, but many things about those responsible for our present-day economy. Talk about good dinner conversation!