There have been many books - on a large and small scale - about Steve Jobs, one of the most famous CEOs in history. But this book is different from all the others.
Becoming Steve Jobs takes on and breaks down the existing myth and stereotypes about Steve Jobs. The conventional, one-dimensional view of Jobs is that he was half genius, half jerk from youth, an irascible and selfish leader who slighted friends and family alike. Becoming Steve Jobs answers the central question about the life and career of the Apple cofounder and CEO: How did a young man so reckless and arrogant that he was exiled from the company he founded become the most effective visionary business leader of our time, ultimately transforming the daily lives of billions of people?
Drawing on incredible and sometimes exclusive access, Schlender and Tetzeli tell a different story of a real human being who wrestled with his failings and learned to maximize his strengths over time. Their rich, compelling narrative is filled with stories never told before from the people who knew Jobs best and who decided to open up to the authors, including his family, former inner circle executives, and top people at Apple, Pixar, and Disney. In addition Brent knew Jobs personally for 25 years and drew upon his many interviews with him, on and off the record, in writing the book. He and Rick humanize the man and explain, rather than simply describe, his behavior. Along the way the book provides rich context about the technology revolution we all have lived through and the ways in which Jobs changed our world.
Schlender and Tetzeli make clear that Jobs' astounding success at Apple was far more complicated than simply picking the right products: he became more patient, he learned to trust his inner circle, and he discovered the importance of growing the company incrementally rather than only shooting for dazzling, game-changing products.
"George Newbern's narration is--simply put--superb. He is exceptionally well suited to the task at hand. The greatest praise is that he disappears, allowing the story to unfold in one's mind. His unhurried narration is a totally immersive experience. Be prepared for the temptation to listen without pausing for any significant amount of time." (AudioFile)
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Contextual, Insightful, Inspiring
The breadth and content of the book is a great achievement. The reading, while good, seems to lack inspiration.
The final chapter brings a dimension of humanity to a number of oft caricatured human beings.
The scene where Steve and his family drive to Stanford the morning of his now famous commencement speech reminds you they are human beings like all of us.
Generally, yes. Some of the middle chapters, while I believe necessary, may bog down readers who care less about the technology aspects of the book.
As someone who worked at Apple for nearly a decade during Steve's second act, I found Walter Isaacson's official autobiography shallow, uninformed (he should've employed a technical consultant) and simply unable to capture the essence of the DNA Steve embodied into his company. This book gets it right. It weaves contextual technical explanations with a breadth of insightful interviews, coupled with the author's own experiences with Steve, to deliver a pitch-perfect story of the evolution of an astoundingly insightful, inspiring and complicated individual.
I'm grateful this book was written. My understanding of my experience at Apple, and of Steve, achieved a new depth of insight and appreciation.
- Douglas Vincent
- Brad Bauer