Becoming Steve Jobs : The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary LeaderBrent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli
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The Ultimate Making Of Steve Jobs Biography
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Now in Hardcover Collection Edition, the #1 New York Times bestselling biography of how Steve Jobs became the most visionary CEO in history. We all think we know who Steve Jobs was, what made him tick, and what made him succeed. Yet the single most important question about him has never been answered.
The young, impulsive, egotistical genius was ousted in the mid-80s from the company he founded, exiled from his own kingdom and cast into the wilderness. Yet he returned a decade later to transform the ailing Apple into the most successful company the world had ever seen.
How did this reckless upstart transform himself into a visionary business leader?
There have been many books—on a large and small scale—about Steve Jobs, one of the most famous CEOs in history. But this book is different from all the others. The first comprehensive study of Jobs’ career following his dismissal from Apple, written with unparalleled access and insight, Becoming Steve Jobs offers a startling new portrait of the most important business figure in modern history.
The most intimate biography yet of Jobs, written by the journalist who knew him better than any other, Becoming Steve Jobs draws on recently discovered interviews that have never before seen the light of day, and answers for the first time the most pressing questions about what made this legendary business leader such a success.
“Becoming Steve Jobs” takes on and breaks down the existing myth and stereotypes about Steve Jobs.
The conventional, one-dimensional view of Jobs is that he was half-genius, half-jerk from youth, an irascible and selfish leader who slighted friends and family alike.
“Becoming Steve Jobs” answers the central question about the life and career of the Apple cofounder and CEO: How did a young man so reckless and arrogant that he was exiled from the company he founded become the most effective visionary business leader of our time, ultimately transforming the daily life of billions of people?
Drawing on incredible and sometimes exclusive access, Schlender and Tetzeli tell a different story of a real human being who wrestled with his failings and learned to maximize his strengths over time.
Their rich, compelling narrative is filled with stories never told before from the people who knew Jobs best, and who decided to open up to the authors, including his family, former inner circle executives, and top people at Apple, Pixar and Disney, most notably Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Robert Iger and many others.
In addition, Brent knew Jobs personally for 25 years and draws upon his many interviews with him, on and off the record, in writing the book.
He and Rick humanize the man and explain, rather than simply describe, his behavior. Along the way, the book provides rich context about the technology revolution we all have lived through, and the ways in which Jobs changed our world.
Schlender and Tetzeli make clear that Jobs’s astounding success at Apple was far more complicated than simply picking the right products: he became more patient, he learned to trust his inner circle, and discovered the importance of growing the company incrementally rather than only shooting for dazzling game-changing products.
A rich and revealing account that will change the way we view Jobs, Becoming Steve Jobs shows us how one of the most colorful and compelling figures of our times was able to combine his unchanging, relentless passion with a more mature management style to create one of the most valuable and beloved companies on the planet.
‘Becoming Steve Jobs is fantastic. After working with Steve for over 25 years, I feel this book captures with great insight the growth and complexity of a truly extraordinary person. I hope that it will be recognized as the definitive history. Ed Catmull, President, Pixar and Disney Animation
Co-authored by Fortune journalist Brent Schlender and Fast Company Executive Editor Rick Tetzeli, and containing exclusive material, this revelatory book will cast an entirely new light on the man behind the most successful company of all time.
What I love best is how deeply personal this book is -painting a more accurate biography…..with tons of details. More information about his family – work ethics growing up. An only child — had been adopted. I loved reading about when he was young and first worked at Atari– all that he learned at Pixar… and the narration of this audiobook is top notch terrific. I was never bored.
The New York Times Review :
In early 2009, Tim Cook presented Steve Jobs, his cancer-stricken mentor and friend, with a surprise offer: Cook wanted to donate a portion of his own liver to his ailing boss, who was stuck in dangerous limbo on California’s waiting list for liver transplants.
Cook had researched the surgical procedure known as a living-donor transplant, even traveling to visit hospitals outside the San Francisco Bay Area to avoid media attention. He apparently concluded that his blood type was the same as Jobs’s and that the operation was safe (the donor’s remaining liver and the portion transplanted to the recipient each grow to a functional size).
But Jobs immediately shot down the stunningly generous proposal. “No,” a bedridden Jobs angrily replied, according to Cook’s recollections in “Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader,” by the journalists Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. “I’ll never let you do that.”
That moving anecdote is one of several that will quicken the pulse of even obsessive Apple watchers. “Becoming Steve Jobs” enters a crowded body of work devoted to Apple and its idiosyncratic co-founder, dominated of course by Walter Isaacson’s 2011 best seller, “Steve Jobs.”
Although it drags and feels unnecessary for large stretches, this new addition to the Apple pantheon redeems itself with access to key players and their previously untold accounts, thereby presenting a layered portrait of the mercurial Jobs, whose style and personality, the book argues, were constantly evolving, right up to his early death.
Schlender was a longtime writer for Fortune and, before that, The Wall Street Journal. He ably co-writes the book with Tetzeli, the executive editor of Fast Company, but this is essentially Schlender’s tale — a first-person memoir from the technology journalist who arguably got the closest to Jobs over the last 30 years of his life.
Jobs was a skillful manipulator of the media, pitting reporters against one another and doling out favors to those who hewed closest to the party line, and Schlender was an ace at this game.
He interacted with Jobs over 150 times by his own count, visited the Jobs house with his young daughters to watch a rough cut of Pixar’s “Toy Story” before its release, and even persuaded Jobs and Bill Gates to sit together for a joint interview for Fortune in 1991.
He was such a reliable Jobs ally that Gil Amelio, Jobs’s erstwhile adversary and predecessor as Apple chief executive in the ’90s, called Schlender a “literary ax murderer” in his own memoir.
So it isn’t surprising that the book strives to paint a more sympathetic picture of the difficult, brilliant Jobs.
The authors assert that “stagnant stereotypes” from Jobs’s early years as an entrepreneurial enfant terrible have ossified in the public mind and don’t fairly capture how Jobs grew as a manager, or explain why he evoked such selfless loyalty in top lieutenants like Cook.
“Steve developed a reputation as an egomaniac who wasn’t willing to learn from others,” they write. “It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the man, even during his youngest, brashest and most overbearing years.”
The authors tiptoe around challenging Isaacson’s book directly, but Cook himself doesn’t pull any punches. “It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality,” Cook, who is now the Apple C.E.O., tells the authors, in an unfair critique.
The new book doesn’t really succeed in improving Jobs’s posthumous reputation. Isaacson showed Jobs as an incorrigible perfectionist who often demonstrated cruel disregard for others.
Freshly unearthed anecdotes, like a tantrum Jobs threw in 1979 at a meeting of Silicon Valley bigwigs for a foundation to eliminate blindness in India, don’t do much to soften the picture. In fact, many of the early chapters of “Becoming Steve Jobs” cover events that have already been well chronicled.
There is Jobs’s listless Reed College period, his early disregard for his oldest daughter, Lisa, and his self-inflicted ouster at Apple and failed comeback at NeXT. A movie on this period in his life, starring Michael Fassbender and based on Isaacson’s book, is scheduled to be released in October.
Readers may feel compelled to watch these events play out on the big screen rather than on the printed page.
But anyone who prematurely dismisses “Becoming Steve Jobs” as a retread will miss the best stuff. The later chapters of the book show how Jobs cared for his colleagues and took an interest in their lives.
For example, worried by Tim Cook’s lack of a personal life, Jobs once concocted a bogus reason to call Cook’s mother in Alabama so he could learn more about his protégé.
And during his final days, Jobs invited Cook over to watch the underdog high school football film “Remember the Titans,” a movie choice Cook found inexplicable at the time, but which now seems appropriate, considering Apple’s own cinematic comeback.
New material also emerges from interviews with the Pixar vets Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, and the Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger, whose perspectives weren’t as prominent in Isaacson’s account.
Back in 2006, colleagues cautioned Iger against letting Jobs on the Disney board, via an acquisition of Pixar, warning that Jobs would interfere with management of the company. Iger trusted his gut and plowed ahead anyway.
Then an hour before Jobs and Iger announced the Pixar purchase, Jobs asked Iger to take a walk. As they sat on a bench on Pixar’s campus in Emeryville, Calif., Jobs put his arm around Iger and told him that his cancer was back.
No one else knew at the time. “I’m telling you because I’m giving you a chance to back out of the deal,” Jobs said. Iger didn’t, of course, and the account here of their growing friendship and productive alliance feels moving and fresh.
But Jobs could turn on friends and colleagues if they no longer served his needs. “I agree he’s really smart. But he’s decided he doesn’t want to work,” Jobs is said to have told Cook about a former Apple vice president. After learning that the man had taken up golf — not exactly a felony — Jobs carped, “Golf?! Who has time for golf?”
That was the frustrating complexity of Jobs: He was a control freak who seemed to care deeply for the people around him, except when, suddenly, he didn’t. Schlender relays his own experience with Jobs’s erratic affections. The author became seriously ill in 2005, after catching meningitis on vacation in Nicaragua.
His employer, Time Inc., airlifted him from Central America to the intensive care unit of Stanford Hospital, where he remained for three weeks. As a result of his ailment, he lost most of his hearing. Jobs visited him in the hospital several times, even while Schlender was hallucinatory, and instructed the hospital staff to give him V.I.P. treatment.
It was a sign of their unusual relationship and the endearing humanity that Jobs could express toward the people around him. But after Schlender spent several years recovering from his ordeal and began stepping away from Fortune magazine, Jobs refused to work with him on any more articles.
Schlender implies he was mystified and hurt by this; maybe he simply wasn’t useful anymore to Apple’s chief executive.
“No one I have spoken to has a unified theory for the staying power of Steve’s childish behavior, not even Laurene,” the authors write at one point, referring to Jobs’s widow, basically throwing up their hands in the face of his still unresolved contradictions. Perhaps Steve was just being Steve.
Inspiring! Interesting! Informative! Emotional!
A great tribute to the legendary Steve Jobs! It’s still sad for me that he’s no longer living…..Truly the Disney or Einstein of our day!
ABOUT AUTHORS :
BRENT SCHLENDER is one of the premiere chroniclers of the personal computer revolution, writing about every major figure and company in the tech industry. He covered Steve Jobs for the Wall Street Journal and Fortune for nearly 25 years.
RICK TETZELI, executive editor of Fast Company, has covered technology for two decades. He is the former deputy editor of Fortune, and editor of Entertainment Weekly.