Steve Jobs biography paints total picture of innovator

Steve Jobs biography paints total picture of innovator

Chanel Saidi

Steve Jobs was a man who was forever chasing away the ugliness both in his life and in the products he put out.

Author Walter Isaacson writes a beautiful biography of the true Steve Jobs. Not only by interviewing people who have good things to say about him, Isaacson is able to depict the life of Jobs, celebrating both his good and bad qualities – his most distinguishing being his harsh and brutal honesty with coworkers.

“If something sucks, I tell people to their face; It’s my job to be honest. That’s the culture I tried to create,” Jobs said. “We are brutally honest with each other, and anyone can tell me they think I am full of shit and I can tell them the same.”

Jobs made it clear from the beginning: he wanted Isaacson to get interviews with both people who loved him and people who were his enemies. He promised not to read the finalized copy but could not keep his hands off the front cover of the book. In true minimalistic Jobs fashion, the cover of the book encompasses Jobs’ simplistic elegance – with nothing but a black and white photo of him in his trademark black turtleneck.

Many chapters in the book are named after song titles or lyrics from some of Jobs’ favorite artists: lyrics from his favorite artists including “you say you want a revolution” from a song by the Beatles and “a man of wealth and fame” from a selection by the Rolling Stones.

Isaacson does a good job showing both sides of Jobs rather than the ideal face everyone would like to imagine behind the inventor. Jobs usually turned down employees’ ideas at first with phrases such as the famous “That’s a stupid idea.”

“People were allowed, even encouraged to challenge him … But you had to be prepared for him to attack you, even bite your head off, as he processed your idea,” Isaacson wrote.

Isaacson recounted a story of how Jobs got his first job at Atari video games. Rather than being a “normal” applicant, Jobs waited at the front desk of the building, refusing to leave until they offered him a position.

The Jobs we know now has become a tamer version of who he was in his adolescent life. For those of you who do not know this, Jobs used to be a full-blown hippie. He traveled through India looking for a guru, wearing traditional Indian garb to work in the search to find himself and fill the void that being adopted had left in him.

His appetite was always something quirky about him. From a young age, Jobs did not eat normally – jumping from vegetarian to vegan to fruitarian and other wacky diets. Jobs himself decided an all-fruit diet would allow him to only bathe once a month and not require him to wear deodorant.

One story that Isaacson wrote about Jobs’ first month at Atari was comical. Employees complained Jobs smelled and was a being a complete pain in the ass to them, resulting in Jobs being permanently moved to the night shift.

Many people may have heard about Jobs’ hardheadedness. One example shines through in the chapter on the contents of his iPod and his collaboration with U2. When Jobs and U2 joined forces to create the first ad campaign featuring a celebrity, Jobs was very hesitant, butting heads with Bono numerous times. Bono wanted the U2 iPod to be distinct, asking for its color to be black; however, in Jobs’ opinion a colored iPod would fail. They butted heads numerous times and almost did not complete the project.

When the first colored iPod came out, it was big. It became even bigger when in 2006 U2 and Jobs campaigned with (PRODUCT) RED. Jobs refused to put Apple within parentheses thinking it would cheapen the brand. As always, Jobs’ stubbornness triumphed: the logo read (PRODUCT) RED rather than the standard Apple logo.

“The conversation got heated – to the F-you stage – before they agreed to sleep on it,” Isaacson writes. “Finally Jobs compromised, sort of. Bono could do what he wanted in his ads, but Jobs would never put Apple in parentheses on any of his products or in any of his stores.”

The book finishes with an inspiring quote by Jobs, which may replicate many others’ ideas of what happens when one dies.

“I like to think that something survives after you die,” he said. “It’s strange to think that you accumulate all this experience, and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away.”

One thing is for certain – Steve Jobs will not just go away. People will always remember the technology that helps students write their papers, work on their bands music or listen to their favorite songs while running on a treadmill or a long road trip. Jobs was many things in life, but he was not someone who can or will be easily forgotten.

Chanel Saidi can be reached at [email protected]