Brief thoughts on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I just began the audio book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and even in the first few chapters I am amazed by the story. I’ve never read Isaacson before, but his style resonates with me a lot like Michael Lewis. I don’t think it’s conversational tone so much as sweeping picture. These two nonfiction writers are painting with color when everyone else is in black and white.  Aside from the high quality writing, here are a few other thoughts on the first three chapters.

  • It’s given me more patience towards young people. Jobs was a delinquent at best, a criminal at worst. My guess is that he wouldn’t get away with very much if he were growing up today and would be working part-time at Radio Shack and an apple orchard. All teenagers, including this one, did dumb things. It’s good to be reminded of this and relates to what Marcus Aurelius writes about waking up each morning and remembering that boys will be boys.
  • Your situation matters a lot. Jobs forced his parents to change schools, was in the heart of Silicon Valley in it’s birth, and had engineers for neighbors who would call him over to show things off. His friend, Steve Wozniak, was one of the smartest engineers of his generation and was the ying to Jobs’s yang.
  • Drugs might lead to enlightenment. Tim Ferriss had a pair of podcasts touting the mind-bending effects of LSD and it’s something that Jobs repeatedly referenced in his interviews for the books.
  • Bribing students might really work. Jobs was bribed with a “lollipop as big as his head” for completing a math workbook which he soon began doing on his own. You can also pay middle-school kids before an exam, have them think about what they’ll spend the money on, and see their scores go up. You can also pay elementary kids to read books to see gains in reading comprehension.

More to come from this book. Have you read it, what should I look out for? Let me know on Twitter, @MikeDariano.

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