Becoming Steve Jobs

  • by Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli
  • Narrated by George Newbern
  • 16 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


What the Critics Say

"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

"Design is How it Works" -SJ

One of the first books I listened to when I joined Audible was Walter Isaacson`s 2011 authorized biography, "Steve Jobs." I listened to it on my iPhone 3 on a long drive up to Bakersfield from Los Angeles. On the way back, I pulled over at the McDonald`s in Grapevine to use their free Wi-Fi to download the next section of the book so I could keep listening.

I revisited my Audible review, and I'd noted, "Isaacson's biography doesn't answer the question of whether Jobs was successful because he was a jerk, or if being an a** prevented him from achieving even more." Brett Schlender and Rick Tetzeli's 2015 book, "Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader" doesn't answer that question, but as Jobs himself might have said, "That's a stupid question." What I should have asked - and what Schlender and Tetzeli answer - is why anybody would want to work for Jobs.

As founder of Apple, Jobs was an enfante terrible who scr**** over his genial, brilliant co-partner Steve Wozniak; denied paternity of his first child, Lisa, and had to be forced to pay child support; and was unceremoniously booted from his own company after badly misreading the mood and position of his closest co-workers. Jobs was, in short, as a young man, the absolute jerk that Isaacson portrayed.

After Jobs' 1985 exile from Apple, he started NeXT with massive Silicon Valley venture capital funding. NeXT appeared to do little more than deliver what we used to call 'vaporware.' That was the term for hardware, software or both that just existed in the mind of marketing. What NeXT actually did was develop the Unix based operating system that became OS X, and eventually IOS, the iPhone operating system.

While running NeXT, Jobs turned his attention to a very small computer company he'd picked up on the cheap from Star Wars director George Lucas, who needed the cash for an expensive divorce. Pixar was almost a hobby for Jobs, who supported the technical work of the company; made it financially viable; and stayed out of the way the creative people who dreamed wonderful stories. A younger Jobs, ego raging, would have interfered Pixar to ignominy. Instead, Jobs guided Pixar to a deal with Disney and a series of unforgettable movies starting with Toy Story. Disney eventually nominally acquired Piixar, but in actuality, Pixar controls Disney now.

Apple was nearly bankrupt when the Board of Directors lured him back as an advisor in 1996. Jobs turned Apple around. It's been profitable since 1998. It survived Jobs' death and is now the world's most valuable company.

I listened to "Becoming Steve Jobs" on my iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 is out now, and while I'm an "early adapter" of books, I wait to upgrade technology until I need to. The Audible downloaded quickly, in one file instead of multiple sections. I didn't have to clear out old books to make room. I wrote this review in Notes, using Jobs' virtual keyboard. (Months ago, I downloaded Microsoft's version of Word from the App Store, but that turned out to be a piece of garbage.)

Listening to "Becoming Steve Jobs", I realized that Jobs had grown exponentially both professionally and personally. He'd matured into someone people wanted to work for and with. Comparing the two books, it was sad to realize that while so many people had forgiven Jobs, he lacked the insight to realize that he'd grown into a better person. He could have forgiven himself.

The book was an intriguing listen, but it got repetitive in places. The narration - well, it's odd. George Newbern's a pretty well known television and voice actor, and he doesn't usually sound robotic. For a good part of this book, though, he sounded like the male version of Siri. Siri's fine for a line or two, but listening to someone narrate chapters like that - ow.

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

Contextual, Insightful, Inspiring

Where does Becoming Steve Jobs rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The breadth and content of the book is a great achievement. The reading, while good, seems to lack inspiration.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Becoming Steve Jobs?

The final chapter brings a dimension of humanity to a number of oft caricatured human beings.

Which scene was your favorite?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

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- Douglas Vincent

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-24-2015
  • Publisher: Random House Audio