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.