BOOK REVIEW: ‘STEVE JOBS – The Man Who Thought Different’
Apple, a brand – people of all ages are crazy about, is leading the technological world even today. We are aware of its products, their elegance, and their advanced features; however, not many know much about the man behind this technology. Some of us might know too little or too much about the Apple Company but very few actually know about the personality behind it. Karen Blumenthal, a journalist and writer, introduces us to this genius mind in a phenomenal way through her book ‘Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different’.
The writer discusses almost everything from the birth to the death of Jobs. She has encompassed Job’s childhood, perceptiveness, technologically inclined attitude, and initial nonchalance about having family, which later changed into deepest attachment. The mention of pitfalls, Jobs encountered in his life, disappointments, he faced at intervals, his resignation from close to his heart Apple when he was stripped of all authority there, and then his re-emergence as its CEO makes the book enlivening.
An adopted son of Paul Jobs and Clara Jobs, Steve Jobs was a college dropout. He tried his hands at calligraphy and showed a transitory interest in creative writing, music, etc., but he was a bred-in-the-bone techie. He started his venture, Apple, in his father’s garage along with his friend Wozniak (Woz). In the beginning, he couldn’t cut a figure, just like he couldn’t show any progress at Reed’s college. Jerry Wozniak, Woz’s dad, once reduced him to tears by jeering, ‘You haven’t produced anything. You have not done anything.’ (P.71).
On the recommendation of Mike Markula, Jobs began to think big. In January 1977, Job, Wozniak, and Markula launched Apple Computer Company, which was now moving out of the garage. Mike Scott, a friend of Markula assumes the Apple office as president. He often had disagreements with Jobs, leading to the infamous ‘Scotty Wars’. Things were not favoring Jobs. He would be derided. Jobs cannot run anything, Scott would say. But, gradually, he proved them wrong. Apple took off unthinkably, and Job was at the core of this success. He became a kind of celebrity. And for the next couple of years, he would grace several magazine covers as the youthful face of a generation of inventors and businessmen bringing computing to the masses (P.98).
Money didn’t matter to Jobs. ‘He believed that the journey is the reward’. Job’s passion took new heights. He shifted his attention to building a simple, inexpensive computer for everyone. He used calligraphic experience, proving every experience makes you grow, and came up with the Macintosh, which let users choose from a menu of typefaces in different sizes, in bold and italic, all proportionally spaced (p.104). The machine worked well for Jobs and Apple.
To have adult supervision, Job and Markulla changed the mind of Sculley, the energetic leader of Pepsi-Cola, to lead Apple. Soon the relations embittered, especially when sales of Macintosh began to slide. There would be occasional bickering between Sculley and Job. Sculley declared Job a petulant brat. To Wall Street analysts, he said; ‘There is no role either today or in the future for Steve Jobs’ — this embarrassed Jobs. In the words of a writer, he felt like he had been punched in the stomach so hard that he couldn’t breathe. All this forced him to leave the company he co-founded.
Feeling shattered, he was unsure what to do next, but the NeXT became his next destination. NeXT was Job’s fresh endeavor to put his genius to use. Customers appreciated NeXT’s software. Although the idea of NeXT didn’t work much, it was not that bad. It was during this period that Jobs realized the importance of family in life. He married. He had children. He met his father and biological sister. During these challenging years, jobs may have wandered professionally, but he grew in the realm that stretches the heart and nourishes the soul—as a son, husband, and father, writes the writer (P. 159).
The difficulties that loomed over him while heading NeXT couldn’t halt him. His dream of building another computer manufacturer was termed dead, dead, and dead. But he didn’t stop. And he got through the difficult times through his ingenuity and belief that ‘Real Artists Ship’. In the meantime, Apple technology had gone stale, and he eagerly wanted to rescue his co-founded Apple, which was never far from his heart. Eventually, he made an entry into Apple by selling NeXT software to Apple.
Apple was facing the worst phase. This opened the door for Job to take on the company’s advisory role. As a charismatic and dashing personality, Job started doing the job that he was known for. He made radical moves as an advisor. He tried to add creativity and embraced the slogan ‘Think Differently’. Not only that, but he stressed workers to think differently and desired to show the world that Apple could ‘think different’. With the idea of ‘think different’ at its heart, Apple launched the iMac and then revolutionized the world of music.
The concept of iTunes software, the iPod player, and the iTunes Store yielded good results. Music and iPod sales would now make up half of Apple’s total sales. This progress continued, and in late June 2007, Apple left its customers amazed with the iPhone, followed by other outclass and refined products, becoming one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world.
In Part 3, which is the last part of the book, the writer writes about cancer—a disease Jobs battled with for years—and his life amidst disease and ultimate death. In the end, the writer has showered attention on his legacy as well.
Tail-piece: The language of the book is simple and gives inspiring details about Steve Jobs. All, exclusively entrepreneurs, tech-savvy individuals, and students who think big must read this wonderful book to understand how to ‘bounce back from every setback’.
The writer is an independent researcher, a tutor, columnist, and co-author of book #55_Stories. He can be reached at: [email protected]
‘STEVE JOBS – The Man Who Thought Different’
Author: Karen Blumenthal
Reviewer: Zeeshan Rasool Khan
Publication: Bloomsbury India Private Limited in the year 2013.