“And One More Thing” — 9 Things Discovered While Listening to Walter Isaacson’s Book Steve Jobs

Photo from Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs

What was intended to carry me through the mean streets of Los Angeles traffic, en route to a necessary but unfulfilling job, changed my look at creating products and a legacy.

I’d been several years late to the book Steve Jobs by Author Walter Isaacson. I regret not listening to it (via audio) much earlier.

Pop in the first CD. Wait at a green light, tune out the car with loud bass to my left and the world around me disappears… “Chapter 1: Abandoned and Chosen:”

Photo from Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs

At times, I’d laugh aloud at the narration of Isaacson’s explanation of events (feet in the toilet, tales from the sparsely furnished Woodside residence, peculiar obsessions).

At other points in Steve’s story, I forgot where the stop-and-go LA traffic was snaking to my destination, as life’s irony was heavy to digest.

Reading a biography or watching a biopic on any public figure has a way of showing how many seemingly minuscule but defining moments of daily life go by unnoticed.

Here are a few takeaways:

1. Reality distortion can be a positive thing. It can help to ‘will’ the right things into existence.

2. Less is more. Simplicity speaks volumes.

3. Restarting your life no matter what “brick hits you in the head.” Keeping with passion despite being ousted from your own company, having your life’s focus temporarily end and public scrutiny.

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” 2005 Stanford University Commencement Speech

4. Keeping a deep respect for artists and innovators.

5. Counterculture, contrarian thinking and an awe of Bob Dylan. The THINK DIFFERENT campaign was not just a slogan, it seemed a summation of who Steve appeared to be (attributed to Chiat/Day’s Rob Siltanen “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo…”)

6. Making a legacy of creative work for the shift in ideas (a.k.a. “disruption”), not just attempting to amass the most money.

7. Setting a date, executing, and shipping on time.

8. Creating a product that is beautiful on the inside, too. Even if the consumer can’t see it, build something perfect from all angles (front, back and hidden).

9. Secrets are relative. In an age of divulging everything via happy “look at me” life photos on social media platforms, keeping some things close to the vest should become the new fashion.

Aside from being a consumer of Apple products, there were personal things I related to which paralleled Steve. Growing up in Silicon Valley, a birthday close in proximity, an obsession with carrot juice, and an absent father from a foreign country whom I would never know.

Reading a biography or watching a biopic on any public figure has a way of showing how many seemingly minuscule but defining moments of daily life go by unnoticed.

It’s those small events that create your history, the trivial arguments or fun experiments that add up to your personal movie (whether it makes the New York Times bestseller list or not).

One could marvel at the early success of Jobs and Woz, wishing the same monetary payout for myself. But it took me back to the need to create what one artist I recently met referred to as “being so addicted to an idea that you can’t live without doing it because it’s your drug.”

A previous interview from Apple representatives claim that the 2011 Jobs book was considered a “tremendous disservice” to Steve. And yes, there are many times where his halo appears very tarnished. The book did not leave me with a feeling of disdain. Instead it was refreshing to know that you can appreciate the work of someone who is far from perfect, similar to myself.

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