That Crybaby, Steve Jobs
Sometimes reading a best-selling book is like going to see a movie all your friends rant that you MUST see. Formula for disappointment. How can anything live up to that kind of hype?
That’s how I felt a few weeks ago when I picked up Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Steve Jobs, who died last October 5 at the age of 56. My first computer was an Apple; 25 years later I love my iPad almost more than my children. So I already respected Jobs. Plus Isaacson has been one of my favorite biographers since he wrote his American history epic, The Wise Men. But I felt the Jobs book could in no way live up to being Amazon’s best-selling book of the year.
I was prepared to be disappointed.
I wasn’t. I loved getting to know Steve Jobs, in all his nutty brilliance, in the intimate way you can only through plowing through a deeply-sourced 600 page biography.
However, I was surprised by what most inspired me about Steve Jobs.
It wasn’t his stunning achievements bringing idiot-friendly innovations such as the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad to millions of consumers at (fairly) affordable prices.
It wasn’t his clear adoration for his adopted family, his biological sister Mona Simpson, or his lovely wife and three children.
It was not his $7 billion net worth.
It wasn’t his brave battle against pancreatic cancer.
It wasn’t his conviction that LSD helped him become more creative, his belief in wacky diets (he ate a lot of organic carrots), or his love of conducting meetings during endless walks around the Palo Alto hills.
I fell for Steve Jobs because, I learned, one of the modern world’s most brilliant and financially successful inventors, marketers and businessmen essentially cried his way through life. He cried in business meetings. He cried in Apple’s hallways. He cried during client and shareholder presentations. He cried at board meetings. He cried in front of Bill Gates.
Now I can identify with that.
I’ve always been a big crybaby. Naturally, as a baby I cried. When I was in elementary school, and clearly not outgrowing the habit, my crying ways were still borderline acceptable. I cried when I got knocked out in kickball. I cried when my second grade teacher told me I picked my nose too much. I cried when the principal asked me not to kiss the boys at recess. I cried when I failed my first chemistry test - actually I cried for the full 45 minutes it took to fail that test.