Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs Book Cover Steve Jobs
Walter Isaacson
Biography & Autobiography
Simon and Schuster
Mon Oct 24 2011
630

Review: This book is a must read given the impact Steve Jobs had on so many different industries. It’s an investment of time—the book is quite long and takes you through his life sequentially—but it definitely held my interest. There’s no denying that he was an incredible creative talent and visionary.

I’ve always been more interested in why he chose to act the way he did. Based on stories I’d heard before I read the book I assumed he did so because he was not self-aware. This book makes it clear that not only was Jobs aware of what he was doing when he treated others poorly; he used it as a strategy. Story after story details appalling behavior towards everyone—friend and foe. I found myself wondering why people would put up with his behavior particularly early in his career/life—before there was any real proof of his talent and his mistreatment of others became part of the mythology surrounding him.

What bothered me most was the implication that his creativity and his bad behavior was linked—that he had to act the way he did in order to achieve on such a massive scale. Certainly there is tension in any creative endeavor. Was it critical that Jobs create full-scale war to inspire and motivate his “troops” to innovate? It appears he seemed to think so. What could have been accomplished if there’d been a bit more of Steve Wozniak’s willingness to collaborate baked into Apple’s DNA? Could they have achieved more with less drama?

Justifying mistreatment of others as part of the creative process gives license to others, less talented, to rationalize their management failings. Let’s hope those types of managers have people and companies that hold them accountable for their behavior toward others.

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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