Saturday, November 12, 2016

Simple Book Review: Steve Jobs [Thinking Differently]

Steve Jobs: thinking differently (2011) by Patricia Lakin

Entrepreneur. Inventor. Pioneer. Creative. College dropout. Visionary. Revolutionary. Rebellious. Nonconformist. Sometime asshole. I think, anyone who know him will agree that Steve Paul Jobs, the cofounder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc., could answer to all of these descriptions (oh maybe except an asshole). Jobs created one world-famous company, Apple Inc. and nurtured both NeXT and Pixar Studios. In short, he and his team – with his visions and passions for perfection – revolutionized home computers, the music and smartphone industries. I told my colleague, pointing at a poster on the wall, “Do you know that Steve Jobs involved in the creation of computer-animated films like Toy Story here?Wall-E too, but maybe most people doesn’t realize that. But for sure, people can remember Jobs as ‘father’ for the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.

This book is excited because it shows from the beginning how Steve Jobs, the brain met Steve Wozniak, the genius to found Apple Computer. “I remember Steve,” said Wozniak, “…mostly about pranks we’d pulled, and also what kind of electronic designs we’d done. It felt like we had so much in common. Typically, it was really hard for me to explain to people the kind of design stuff I worked on, but Steve got it right away.” Jobs agreed, “Woz was the first person I met who knew more electronics than I did.” They started their ‘company’ in the garage “creating an inexpensive computer for the average person.” With many challenges and failures, both Steves, Mike Markkula, their first investor, and his friends (partners and workers) were able to produced the first generation Apple Computer [I always wonder, why called it ‘Apple’? #1 Steve once worked on a farm tending to apple orchard; #2 Steve was a vegetarian, consumed an all-fruit diet; and #3 Newton’s apple as symbol of revolution].

I chuckled as I read the seriousness of Steve Jobs in the teachings of Zen Buddhism that one time when he went to India he said to a guru he wanted to be a monk. I chucked some more when I read about his unseriousness in college causes him to dropped out but take a great interest in calligraphy. I amazed at his simplicity in life, his ability to think ahead of others, his don’t-give-up spirit, his drive for perfection, and his determination even in the midst of failures. I think of him as asshole sometime when I read about how he handled conflict with others (especially with Woz), how he treated his ex-girlfriend (he have a daughter, Lisa with her), and how self-centred he become when it comes to making decisions (but then again, I can interpret it as selflessness, for he think about the company and the products as a whole).

Honestly, minus the all-star popularity, the perfectionism and creative level, I see myself in Steve Jobs’. That’s why I love-hate Jobs. I don’t want to be like Jobs, and at the same time I want to be like him in the area of imagination, perseverance, passion and daring. After I read this book, I understand a great deal of the person of Steve Jobs. I used to doubt, “Apple Inc. is not only Steve Jobs but also Wozniak, the Lisa team, the Macintosh team and the Apple team. What so great about Steve?” Now my perspective is different: Yes I cannot think of Steve as the sole creator and designer of the Apple products. But Steve is worthy of our amazement because he was “like an ingenious conductor who assembled an orchestra of brilliant musicians and led them in playing his tunes, always to perfection.” Jobs was not the soloist hero, but the leader who lead a great team. In his life time and after his death in 2011 he had fulfilled his dream, namely, “to put a dent in the universe.

On my office table, there are two quotes I printed and framed as my reminders. One is from Albert Einstein and the other is from Steve Jobs, quote that he recorded for the multi-awards Think Different advertisement: “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. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

With this, Patricia Lakin also end her book.

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