The evolution of Steve Jobs: It’s time to revisit — and correct — the myth

“Wunderkind. Jerk. Innovator. Tyrant. (All of the above.) Even now, almost four years after his death, it’s hard to read a story about Steve Jobs that doesn’t rely on these kinds of generic labels to explain his character, that doesn’t paint him as an obstreperous ingrate who never changed, who cowed coworkers and competitors with an almost magical ‘reality distortion field,'” Rick Tetzeli writes for Fast Company.

“It’s a strange phenomenon, given the extraordinary story of his life: A callow businessman, a young college dropout whose behavior was so divisive and undisciplined that he was exiled in 1985 from the company he founded, turns around and becomes the radically effective visionary leader of a company that became the most valuable enterprise on earth. Surely this can’t be explained by a set of stereotypes that haven’t changed for three decades,” Tetzeli writes. “‘You should call your book Don’t Try This at Home,’ Bill Gates told us. ‘That’s the degree of difficulty of what Steve achieved.'”

“Thinking of his career and life as a fluid history changes what we can learn from Jobs. It changes his legacy and how we have to think about the future of Apple. What follows here are three unconventional assessments—and the ways in which they continue to drive the company Steve launched,” Tetzeli writes. “(Our book, Becoming Steve Jobs, which is being published by Crown on March 24, offers more, and fuller, insights.) For starters, we have to reconsider Steve’s image as a solitary genius who on his own simply willed breakthrough products into existence.”

Much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Giant.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Carlos from Bogotá” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Steve Jobs: ‘I just don’t like television. Apple will never make a TV again’ – March 13, 2015
Tim Cook reportedly offered Steve Jobs his liver, but Jobs refused – March 12, 2015
Gruber: ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ is a remarkable new book – March 3, 2015


    1. Funny, I did the same, or am doing the same. I’m actually embarrassed I bought the Isaacson book. It’s almost funny talking about how bad the Isaacson book is, when I haven’t even read it.

      1. I read it when it came out. There was nothing terribly wrong with it, it was just bland, and it was painfully obvious the writer didn’t know enough about technology to do the subject any justice. Lashinsky’s Inside Apple was a bit better but read like a bunch of magazine articles. This one sounds like it will finally be the one to paint the whole picture.
        In other words, you didn’t miss much, don’t bother 🙂 Wait for this one..

      2. There was a book about Apple’s early days, published about 25 years ago, that might be worth another look: West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer, by Frank Rose

      3. Sure, funny talking about how bad a book is without having read it, certainly never pegs anyone as a complete imbecile. But it just might cull out a few of the kool aid drinkers…

  1. And the world gets to understand that Jobs gift was to be able to hire strong capable people, motivate and keep them oriented toward high quality product goals no matter how intense the discussions.

    The team leaders, like Ive and Cook and Federigi & Forestall and others get page time in books, but it is actually their capability to build and maintain the core work groups with terrific and motivated people under them that makes the whole company truly work. Teamwork wins.

  2. I always thought there had to be more to the story than we were being told, because it just didn’t make sense that Apple’s fantastic success was a fluke, or that it was due to one guy with so many ugly human failings. We were told that if consumers lined up to buy his creations, it was because they were foolishly taken in by marketing hype and followed the herd, not because they recognized quality when they saw it. After he died, his hypnotic influence was supposed to be gone, but Apple soared to even greater heights. Then we were told that it couldn’t last. We were told that for years. We still hear it.

    There has always been something wrong with this conventional narrative, and maybe the new book will straighten it out. I imagine its theme touches on Sony, Zen Buddhism, and corporate culture.

  3. Imagine, not reading or viewing any bios of Steve Jobs and relying on bloggers/rumor mongers, who many themselves admit such as well, to tell you about the ‘real’ man.

    I can’t. But I guess a lot of know-it-alls here have no trouble.

    Interesting that so many of us, who either met, worked with, and/or followed his career had such high opinions of THE man. And still do!

  4. Gotta wonder if the friends/family/coworkers agreed to these interviews as a way to redress the Isaacson book.

    Many cooperated with the Isaacson one. And this new one is also from a journalist, but with a longer history with Jobs and probably more background in the tech industry. The friends/family coworkers couldn’t control what the journalist would ultimately write, but they probably saw him as a good bet to get closer to what they knew. I’m guessing they decided to go all in and make themselves available.

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