Five Takeaways from Reading Steve Jobs

Published on by David A. Kennedy

I just finished reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

It’s an amazing read, and I enjoyed it immensely. Some techies may not appreciate it as much as they could because it isn’t technical. You won’t read about all the ins and outs of making the iPhone or iPad, but you will read about the big breakthroughs, obstacles and quirks of Steve Jobs. That was just what I wanted.

I took away many things from the book and Steve Jobs’s life. Here’s a short list:

  1. Be passionate. You can’t make any real difference with your work or life without believing in what you do. Jobs truly wanted to create great products. It showed in the results he and his team at Apple unleashed over the last three decades.
  2. Mind the details that matter. Details make the difference. Paying attention to how a product looked on the inside, even though no one ever saw it, helped Jobs build products that looked like nothing else.
  3. Be a jerk. Sometimes. Issaacson’s biography recounts many instances of Jobs being a jerk. Sometimes warranted, sometimes not. That persona can prove invaluable when you can’t get your idea or vision through to people any other way.
  4. Focus. The thing that I marveled at more than anything in the book is how Jobs reinvented Apple’s product line after he came back in the late 1990s. It took a lot of guts and vision to say “This is what Apple is good at, and this is what we’ll do,” so to speak. So many companies and organizations fail at this.
  5. What obstacles? Issaacson writes a lot about Jobs’s “reality distortion field.” Jobs certainly set unrealistic goals at times – almost always. However, it was that shooting for the impossible, and ignoring limitations that made him and his team at Apple do groundbreaking things, and make a “dent in the world.”

Have you read the book? What did you learn. Let me know.

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