Book review – Steve Jobs

February 20th, 2012 by Gallagher John 2 Comments

I just finished reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  It was not on my 2012 reading stack at the start of the year, but I chose to read it at the suggestion of a friend.  I am glad that I did.

First, the fact that I finished a 600+ page book is an accomplihsment in itself!

The book is a chronological look at Steve’s life and business journey. I must say that as I read it, I found myself shaking my head often at the ‘style’ Jobs presented.  His strengths were his weaknesses.  This is the major takeaway of the book for me.

Empathy. – Jobs had an incredible ability to connect with the needs of his customers.  Clearly, during the story he often did NOT have this same ability with family and employees. 

 Focus. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do” (pg 336).  However, when Jobs got focused on something, it engulfed him.  Again, often at the expense of his family relationships and his health.

Simplicity. – “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”(pg 127).  However, Steve often ‘ignored’ the complex.  The biggest example of this was when he did not seek treatment when his cancer was initially found. 

Motivational – Jobs was a master at painting the big picture so that employees knew their impact.  There is a story in the book where he went to a white board and showed that if there were five million people using the Mac, he could save a hundred lifetimes per year by decreasing start-up time by 10 seconds.  BUT, you generally ended up in two camps with Jobs with your ideas: 1) brilliant or 2) total “s–t” (crap).  He was charismatic AND his brutal honesty alienated many.

There are too many really good stories to list in this review.

Have you read this book?  What are your thoughts on the leadership ‘style’ Steve Jobs exhibited?


  • Stan Buck


    I was able to “read” this book on Jobs on audio in January while on my trip to Florida – and I found it both fascinating and sad. I agree with your assessment – and would add a couple of biblical insights:


    “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

    It was surprising and sad to me that such a brilliant guy was so ANGRY and so LOST most of his life – in part because he became mad at God in his childhood over the injustice he perceived among those who suffered in the world – then he proceeded to cause pain and suffering among his co-workers and his own family – including a daughter he would hardly even acknowledge from a relationship prior to marriage. (He wasn’t much of a father or a husband.)

    Ironically, he didn’t seem to care about all the money he made – and didn’t seem interested in using his vast influence to help alleviate suffering. Imagine what he could have done with his gifts to help others – beyond the creation of great products.

    The other observation I would make is that while Steve Jobs was BRILLIANTLY FOCUSED on developing a great line of electronic products – and his VISION to see things as they could be – he seemed to lack the humility to see the future impact of his stubborn PRIDE – relationally and spiritually:


    “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

    It is ironic, because I have come to love using the products he so dynamically helped create! But I don’t envy his life – on earth or in eternity!


  • Stan, thanks for sharing and adding to the awareness.

    All the way through he was somehow able to rationalize his odd behioral style…Certainly, not the leadership style that is one to model.