Steve Jobs book

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs

Print | Ebook | Audiobook)

The Book In 3 Sentences

This is the only authorized biography of Steve Jobs, the iconic co-founder and CEO of Apple, Inc.  The book and the man Steve Jobs were equally inspiring and sobering at the same time.  Jobs’ vision and drive towards usable, beautiful technology changed the world, but his abrasive management and communication style gives us many lessons of its own.

What I Liked

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@coachchadcarson”]The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”  – Apple, “Think Different”[/tweetthis]

I love to read biographies because you get inside the head of amazing people.  While I’m often left inspired and challenged by the greatness of the book’s subject, I also come away from these biographies humbled.  Everyone lives a complex life, and no one is perfect. We all have our demons, our challenges, and our flaws.

Steve Jobs was no different.

In a way, the great person’s imperfection makes things easier for you and me.  We don’t have to be perfect, either. But we can still do amazing things while we’re here for this short life.

And Steve Jobs was the epitome of making the most of his time.  In his own words, he just wanted to “put his own little dent in the universe.”

Jobs was one of the most visionary, world-changing, sometimes polarizing, but always extremely interesting figures in business.  What amazed me was his ability to simplify ideas and concepts to their essentials.  He took complex, cutting-edge personal technology, and he made it beautiful, usable, and fun.

And as you and I both know, life and business tends to fight our desire to focus and simplify.  Chaos and complexity are the natural states our lives seem to be pulled towards.

But Steve Jobs is an example of the power of directing our focus towards projects, businesses, and ideas that matter.  If that idea resonates with you, I think you’ll enjoy reading (or rereading) the biography.

Now I’ll share my favorite big ideas from the book.

Big Ideas From the Book

**Follow the links to read past articles I have written on each big idea.

1. To the Naysayers: Do You Create or Just Criticize?

How much time do you spend creating something amazing – like a business, a product, a work of art, or a strong family culture? And how much time do you spend criticizing and complaining?  As Teddy Roosevelt said, “it’s not the critic who counts.” Be a creator, not a critic.

2. Think Different: The Great Lesson From Misfits, Rebels, & Troublemakers

I saw a bumper sticker recently that said, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” I’m carefully letting my daughters learn that lesson because almost without exception, the people who change society for the better don’t follow all of its rules.  Instead, they create even better ones.

3. My Motivation is Great Products, Not Profits

Steve Jobs and Apple focused on excellent products that people would love and use. The result?  One of the most profitable companies in the world.  There is a lesson for us in the order of those priorities.

4. How to Go Back to Basics Like Steve Jobs

When Steve Jobs took Apple back over in 1997, it was struggling.  He took the company back to basics by eliminating many products, simplifying marketing, and trimming down the manufacturing process. The result was a dramatic turnaround for the company and for himself.

5. No Sugarcoating Communication

Steve Job’s communication was abrasive, prickly, and brutally honest.  Most people around him agreed he took this style too far, but it  inspired and challenged others to create amazing products and businesses. The lesson for me is that being too nice and polite in your communication will not drive excellence and positive change in others. There needs to be a balance of tough love with a little bit of sugar from time to time.

6. Momento Mori – Remember Death

One of the most inspiring speeches of all time was Steve Job’s commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.  He challenged the graduates not to waste time living someone else’s life.  His words were “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

7. People DO Judge a Book By Its Cover

You may have learned not to judge a book by its cover, but in business and life, it’s wise to remember that people do just that.  This principle guided Steve Jobs to obsess about every detail of the Ipad’s appearance, even down to its packaging.  In real estate investing when renting or selling a house, it’s smart to do the same if you want to get the best price in the quickest time possible.

8. Sell The Emotion, Not the Product

Do you think Apple commercials for Ipods, Ipads, and Iphones simply list the features like the screen size, the speed of the processor, or the amount of memory? Of course not! They show people using the products (like this early iPod silhouette dancing ad), and through music, color, art, and other visual effects they convey the inner feelings of the user – like excitement, creativity, and independent thinking.  To sell any product or service successfully, we need to figure out how to do the same.


My Favorite Quotes From the Book

I’ve learned over the years that when you have really good people you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. ”

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@coachchadcarson”]My job is to say when something sucks rather than sugarcoat it.” – Steve Jobs [/tweetthis]

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@coachchadcarson”]”People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs[/tweetthis]


I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow.”

There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say, ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@coachchadcarson”]The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Steve Jobs [/tweetthis]

You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.”

If You Liked This Book, You Might Also Like:

  • The Snowball: Warren Buffett and The Business of Life by Alice Schroeder (Print | Ebook | Audiobook)
  • Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson (Print | Ebook | Audiobook)
  • Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Business Man  by Yvon Chouinard  ( Print |Ebook | Audiobook )
  • Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey & Rajendra Sisodia (Print | Ebook | Audiobook)

What do you think?

Have you read Steve Jobs, the biography? Did you like it? What were your favorite ideas? What takeaways did you have? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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