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Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs Biography Book Summary


  • Jobs had many positive and negative attributes. He was really weird and difficult to deal with as a person, which both helped and harmed him at many times.
  • There are many paths to entrepreneurship, and every person operates differently in finding success.
  • Apple and Jobs were not always the sources of creativity; Apple used acquisitions, outside contractors, and ad agencies to design many of the products and ad media that we now consider iconic Apple.
  • Jobs went direct and always called on the top people for help; he didn’t go it alone. From looking up the CEO of HP in the phone directory and calling him for a part as a teenager to calling up Bono, Bill Gates, and Bill Clinton, Jobs went to the source and the decision maker and never felt shy to state what he wanted.
  • Walks can be a great way to connect with someone else.
  • Sharing your feelings and being honest with others can be motivating.
  • Entrepreneurs can convince everyone around them to work hard and believe in them through reality distortion fields.
  • Don’t worry about hyperbole or reputation; every product Jobs every released was “the greatest thing ever.”
  • There are some interesting parallels between Eastern spiritual traditions and entrepreneurship.
  • Entrepreneurs must be constantly pitching and enthusiastic.
  • A supportive family affects a person in fundamental ways.

Notes

  • Jobs asked Isaacson to write his bio.
  • Jobs was constantly pitching and enthusiastic.
  • Wanted to be at intersection of humanities and tech

Childhood

  • Abandoned, chosen, special
  • Adopted
  • Wants to control everything around him like product
  • Father mechanic who taught him to build and design
  • Care about parts, backs, and insides even when not visible
  • Moved to Silicon Valley, defense contractors, loved computers
  • Realized was smarter than parents

School

  • Bored at school
  • Played pranks
  • Zen Buddhism
  • Spirituality not dogma
  • Home electronics kits
  • Joined HP Explorers
  • Did drugs, part of hippie movement
  • Hated authority

Steve Wozniak

  • Met in electronics class
  • Built his own microprocessors
  • Lots of pranks
  • Phone phreaking
  • Woz engineered, Jobs packaged for sale
  • Dropout
  • Patience was never his virtue
  • Loved zen, Dylan, and acid
  • Zen Mind, Beginners Mind
  • Zen emphasis on intuition
  • Vegetarian and weird diets

Reality distortion field

  • Staring and silence, intensity
  • Loved calligraphy and typography, nice design
  • Atari
  • Search for enlightenment, time in India

Breakout

  • The Apple I
  • Altair
  • Counterculture and technology
  • Wozniak had idea for personal computer with CPU, keyboard, and mouse in one package.
  • Jobs thought of idea to sell computer.
  • Apple name came from Jobs’ fruit diet, simplicity, counter culture
  • Simple partnership agreement
  • Third partner left from personal liability fear, gave up 10% stake for $1600
  • Sold first computers to retail shop, assembled in garage
  • Bought parts after got customer order

Apple II

  • Integrated package
  • Great case
  • Sequoia VC told him to get marketing guy
  • Apple marketing philosophy (3 points from VC partner)
  • Empathy
  • Focus
  • Impute (people judge book by cover)
  • Girlfriend got pregnant but he ignored daughter
  • Courts forced him to pay child support
  • Xerox PARC
  • GUI
  • Bit mapping
  • Great artists steal

Going public

  • The Mac is born
  • Reality distortion field
  • Belief that rules didn’t apply
  • Incorporated vision and able to lie and deceive because deceives himself
  • Binary distinction between great and horrible for the people he worked with
  • Perfectionism
  • Bad at making trade-offs

The design

  • Simple and clean modernism
  • Inspired by CuisinArt (funny that it’s not the other way around)
  • Friendly look
  • Hired and contracted with designers
  • Obsessed with perfect box and packaging

Building the Mac

  • Crusade against IBM
  • Mac incompatibility with other Apple models
  • Wanted to give masses a controlled experience
  • It’s not done until it ships. (Different philosophy from “great engineers ship” or “perfect is the enemy of good.”)
  • The journey is the reward.
  • Customer doesn’t know what he wants.
  • Dream of laptop and tablet
  • Don’t compromise.
  • Some could stand up to him.
  • Intra-company rivalry between Mac by Jobs and Lisa computer where he was kicked out.

Sculley

  • Pepsi president
  • Jobs more showman than businessman
  • Rise of IBM PC
  • Launch of Mac
  • Chiat/Day made famous 1984 Mac ad
  • 1/24/84 launch
  • Greatest commercial ever
  • Make product intros epic moments

Gates and Jobs

  • Microsoft started programming apps for Mac (!)
  • Licensed Microsoft’s BASIC
  • MS wrote Excel for Mac
  • MS ripped off Windows but actually just ripped off Xerox PARC
  • First version crude but iterated
  • Thought MS had no taste
  • Sculley just wanted to please Steve.
  • Steve controlled him.

Exodus

  • Wozniak quit to work on own remote control.
  • Scully never became product person.
  • Jobs abusive in organization
  • Made Jobs resign because couldn’t operate business
  • Feeling of rejection at early age

NeXT

  • Left and took key employees
  • Was sued
  • People couldn’t trust his integrity.
  • Many failures at NeXT matured his personality.
  • Very stubborn
  • Paid $100K for logo design consultant for 1 option only before any product existed
  • Took minor design issues to extremes
  • Education workstation product
  • Ross Perot invested.
  • Gates and Jobs fought over NeXT.
  • Jobs wanted one controlled platform.
  • Gates wanted compatibility.
  • Huge launch party
  • Jobs was the Andrew Lloyd Webber of product launches.

Pixar: technology meets art

  • Jobs bought majority stake from George Lucas
  • Was Lucasfilm animated division
  • Pixar did deal with Disney.

Family man

  • Met a woman, fell in love
  • She was much older than him and Jobs eventually wanted kids
  • Reconnected with biological family and sister
  • Became more involved with his own daughter
  • Jobs very mercurial, embrace and coldness
  • Could be very romantic
  • Met wife at talk he gave at Stanford GSB
  • Fluctuates focus of attention between extremes of love and work
  • His favorite place for vacation: Kona Village, Hawaii
  • Married at Ahwahnee resort in Yosemite
  • Moved to Palo Alto unpretentious house
  • No security guards or live-in servants
  • Kept backdoor unlocked

Toy Story

  • Disney licensed Pixar computers
  • Pixar went public after Toy Story release

The second coming

  • Apple chose to license NeXT os and hardware
  • Apple lost to Windows
  • Jobs wanted to return to Apple as CEO and innovate
  • Wanted to find Unix OS to build upon
  • NeXT built a Unix OS
  • Contest against BeOS

The restoration

  • Kicked out CEO
  • Came back, kicked out board
  • Microsoft invested and committed to making Office for Mac
  • Lots of phone calls between Jobs and Gates
  • Cried a lot at emotional moments
  • “Think Different” campaign
  • Called famous people out of the blue when needed help or favors or when needed CEO somewhere to give exception
  • Many wanted them to license OS
  • Got out of all product lines except 4
  • Many layoffs

Design principles

  • Johnny Ive designer at Apple
  • Hand drawn, emotional designs
  • Jobs designed case, engineers had to make boards fit
  • Design of packaging, have patents for boxes design

The iMac

  • All in one
  • Clear case
  • Handle to grab, humanizes it

CEO

  • Zero tolerance for poor performance of staff or suppliers
  • Built just-in-time supply chain and build-to-order sales like Dell
  • Hired Tim Cook for supply chain management
  • Cut inventory
  • Got 100 turtlenecks from Japanese designer of Sony uniform (Issey Miyake)
  • Would park his Mercedes over 2 handicapped spots
  • Claimed others’ ideas as own
  • Didn’t take any salary or stock at first
  • Asked for airplane instead
  • OS X came from NeXT

Apple Stores and Genius Bars

  • Store size conveys size of brand
  • Wants to be in most expensive locations
  • Visual and touching design studio
  • If something is not right, fix and delay launch instead launching imperfectly.
  • Insisted on only stone from Florence sidewalks.
  • Signature staircase
  • Jobs has patents on staircase design.
  • Apple has highest traffic and sales volume in retail.

The digital hub

  • FireWire
  • Control hardware, software, media devices
  • Adobe didn’t put Photoshop on Mac and Jobs was pissed; didn’t put flash on iPad
  • iTunes (had bought SoundJam startup)
  • iPod
  • Scroll wheel
  • Pure white color
  • Iconic ads
  • Outspent all other music players in ads because improved Mac image

iTunes store

  • Legal alternative to piracy
  • Individual songs
  • Had to sign up music companies
  • Sony could have done same as Apple with computer, music, and player, but its divisions didn’t work together.
  • Moved to PC against Steve’s wishes
  • Never worry about cannibalization of own products with new ones
  • Microsoft attempt (Zune) failed.
  • Mini, Shuffle
  • iTunes sold 1 million songs in 6 days
  • Started to sell magazines, videos, apps

Music man

  • A person is defined by their iPod list.
  • Bob Dylan, Beatles were his favorites
  • Bob Dylan digital boxed set sold, huge marketing
  • Apple gave musicians brand to leverage (reverse of celebrity endorsement); iPod gave access to younger listeners.
  • Beatles Apple Core trademark suit
  • Later suit when Apple went into music
  • Bono wanted to do ad for Apple promoting new album
  • Black Nano with royalty to U2
  • Red iPod for philanthropy
  • Loved Yo-Yo Ma

Pixar’s friends and foes

  • Dreamworks came out with Ants competing with Pixar’s A bugs life
  • 2nd product syndrome: don’t understand why first product successful so if can survive second one, will be fine
  • Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings and random collaboration; must meet in person, not by email
  • Eisner and Jobs clashed
  • Iger worked better with Jobs
  • Introduced iPod video including Disney ABC shows
  • Disney wanted to buy Pixar
  • Took a lot of walks with everyone he met with

21st century Mac

  • Intel architecture
  • New desktop iMac design
  • Huge stock grants and CEO compensation controversy
  • Kidney stones from overwork on Apple and Pixar
  • Cancer diagnosis
  • Refused surgery for a while and did vegan diet and acupuncture
  • Stanford commencement address
  • Tim Cook helped when was out for surgery
  • Monday morning executive meetings across divisions from 9am-12pm
  • Focus on 2-3 things at a time
  • Mortality keeps all in perspective

iPhone

  • Hated all phones
  • Tried partnership with Motorola for Rockr
  • Wanted to build phone they wanted to use
  • iPad idea had already been in progress and merged with iPhone
  • Multitouch feature
  • Acquired Fingerworks company with gestures parents
  • Rounded rectangles
  • Swipe to open
  • Light sensor for when on phone
  • Guerilla glass by Corning
  • Famous speech for product launch

Round 2

  • Lost a lot of weight due to diets
  • Cancer returned
  • Didn’t give full truth
  • Stock price dropped due to health
  • Didn’t jump the queue for liver transplant
  • Dual listed on Tennessee list and got transplant there
  • Hated design of various medical apparatuses
  • Tablet project

Apps

  • Journalism and books
  • Apple owns the customer and credit card
  • Mad at Android
  • Wants end-to-end control
  • Hates Flash
  • Apple: design before engineering
  • Antenna problem in iPhone 4
  • Got Beatles finally in iTunes Store

To infinity

  • Ipad 2
  • Detachable cover
  • Took wife to original wedding site for 20 year anniversary
  • iCloud
  • MobileMe sucked
  • New signature office campus

Round 3

  • Son did cancer research at Stanford
  • Loved Kyoto
  • Jobs always dismissive of philanthropic efforts
  • Involved with helping Obama
  • Medical leave
  • Lack of integrated approach among caretakers
  • Wanted orderly transition of power at Apple
  • Visits at his house by Gates, Clinton, etc.

Legacy

  • End-to-end integration
  • Intensity
  • Hero/shithead dichotomy
  • Food is best thing ever or inedible
  • Open vs. closed systems
  • Delight the user vs. empower the user
  • Got people to do things they never thought possible
  • Didn’t invent much outright but put things together in good design
  • Apple II, Macintosh, Toy Story, Apple stores, iPod, iTunes Store, iPhone, App Store, iPad, iCloud, Apple itself
  • Not exceptionally smart but a genius in another way
  • Magician genius (intuition not processing power)
  • Design sensibility
  • Perfectionism
  • Products, not profits, are his motivation
  • Figure out what customers will want, not market research or giving what they ask for directly.
  • Deep current of humanity in innovation
  • Great artists were great at science
  • For Microsoft, winning business was more important than making great products
  • Tell people to their face if something sucks.

 

Shout out to maxmednik.com for doing this written summary

To buy the book, click the link in the image below to purchase from Book Depository

 

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=bestbookbits1

 

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