Steve Jobs biography – what’s my takeaway?

ImageHaving just finished the fabulously well written biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson I have found myself contemplating what type of man Steve was. Would I like to work with or for him or would I naturally hate him?

I wrote a short tribute post on the day Steve passed away. There I was already aware (how could one not be) of his different approach to being an entrepreneur and taking the hard route.

After reading Walter’s biography however, I was struck by the difficult man he was. Difficult to work with, difficult to be related to and yet how inspiring he was, or could be at the same time. I think I would have loved to hate him. Admired and despised him. Maybe not different to how some of those close to him felt? We did share a lot of interests, Zen, design, beautiful tech, the blend of intuition and knowledge and wanting to do things differently.

He started so many things: debates, products, arguments, philosophies… and a few businesses too. Walter believes that Jobs will be the entrepreneur who will be remembered 100 years from now for what he did when he created and came back to Apple. As I won’t be around in 100 years, won’t have access to him or his close team, I find myself asking what I can take away from the book which seemed to be quite a balanced portrayal.

Jobs tackled a few key questions and industries:

  • Open versus closed
  • Integrated digital music
  • Art and technology
  • Top-down management
  • Ascending transaction business models
  • Exit versus legacy entrepreneurs
  • Collaboration and war in business

What I loved about the book is how these themes came across in various ways, like cross-cutting concerns, as they struck to the core of how Steve operated. His personal was his professional and people struggled with that.

Back to the exam question – what can I take away from the book?

In looking at myself and how I have changed over the last 10 or so years, I recognise that there is a lot in Steve’s approach that I aspire to. Not to be like Steve but to take on some of what he had. He was a person who believed in his intuition and saying it like it is.

Professionally I have always been extremely cautious to stay on the side of Political Correctness (business correctness), what I expect  people expect. This is probably the biggest take away for me: I need to be more me. My personality is not brought to work. Like the judges on X-factor keep saying “need to bring your personality to the stage more”…

It is not about open versus closed, collaborate versus compete or art versus tech that is important as a message. For me I think it is the ability to assimilate information, find my stance and then stand for it. It is the magic mix of vulnerable and confident that impress me in people I look up to.

Now I need to work on finding my mini-Steve Jobs in myself and to ‘bring it’… Do you have a mini-Steve Jobs in you?

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