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Friday, February 24, 2012

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

From time to time I've picked up advice books on managing in the business world.  Some by consultants.  Some by successful ex-CEOs.

Now I'm a bit more than halfway through what is clearly the best I've ever read. And it's not an advice book per se.  It's a biography.  But it is loaded with advice.  It's the best-selling biography of Steve Jobs by Isaacson.

If a young person was to ask me for a reference book on how to  manage a company in a major industry, I would give him or her this book with the advice to study it.  Jobs clearly had character flaws.  He clearly made mistakes - which he readily admitted.  But, on the bottom line, his understanding of how to bridge technology and creativity, how to build and manage a team of some of the brightest and most creative people in the world, and how to harness passion for products was unsurpassed.

What really intrigues me about this book is Isaacson's capturing of Job's passion for Apple and the products it produced.  The attention to detail, the ongoing brutal task of building an "A" team, and the dealing with clueless board members are fascinating to anyone who has been part of this type of environment.

There is a lot to be learned in this book by anyone in the business world or anyone thinking about entering the business world.  The book isn't, for sure, going to make someone into a Steve Jobs - after all his was a very rare, charismatic personality combined with a particular genius ability to present a vision of which he could convince people to do what they felt was impossible.  But this book can teach the value of passion, team building, and understanding the importance of seeing products from the customer's point of view.

Here are a few YouTubes worth watching if you enjoy the book:

And ...if you have tissue nearby:


  1. I haven't read the book yet Robert, but dying to get my hands on it! I'm a big admirer of Jobs. His passion was just amazing! When was the last time we had a CEO who took personal interest in how a product was packaged?

    1. One of my take aways has been his insistence on simplifying. Although not a coder/engineer type like Woz, he still obviously got the whole technology bit but still appreciated and stressed the importance of getting things down to their essence for the benefit of customers. He was very insistent on this and in fact quite abrasive. But his end users have great admiration for the end product.
      It strikes me that this is the exact same thing we need to strive for in the financial literacy/investment realm. We need to cut away the fluff and boil processes etc. down to their essence. All the fluff etc. can be a smokescreen to make things appear more complicated than they are and thereby enable the financial services industry to extract egregious fees.
      My rant for the day! I'm sure you will really enjoy the book and will be interested in your reaction.

  2. I was wondering when this review would go up! I, too, am almost finished the book now. I like that it exposes him as someone who is very human that had as many failures as successes.

    1. I hope you watched the videos - they add to the enjoyment of the book.

  3. We are now in the middle of a stock bubble in social networking stocks. Apple is at the top of the social networking craze along with facebook. Companies like facebook cannot resist the desire to cash in on the boom in social networking stocks. Now when the big fish of the social networking stock craze goes public that may be a sign that the stock bubble may be close to bursting. Just like everybody was saying back in 2006 at the top of the housing bubble its different this time. And just like everybody was saying in 2000 at the top of the .com bubble its different this time. After Facebook goes public we will here it once again its really different this time around.