Steve Jobs4 min read

Published by Zach on


The Book in Three Points

  • Make great products.
  • Steve Jobs was a genius and an asshole.
  • Challenge the status quo.

The Review

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of biographies. Anne Franke, Benjamin Franklin, and Leonardo Da Vinci are all excellent. This is one of the best ones I’ve read; maybe it’s because this biography is more relatable. Steve Jobs only died ten years ago, and I’m typing this post on his invention right now.

Walter Isaacson didn’t pull any punches when it came to Jobs. If I learned two things about Jobs from this book, it’s that he’s a genius and an asshole. Isaacson also has a fantastic ability to be as objective as possible; even though the main interviewee is Steve Jobs, I know the whole story. I know that people would kill for him, and I also know people wanted to kill him at certain times.

If you want to learn about one of the greatest minds of the past century and become inspired to create something unique, I strongly suggest reading this book. One remarkable fact I learned from this book is that Steve Jobs also ran Pixar. Pixar with movies such as A Bugs Life and Toy Story. Pixar is what made Steve Jobs a billionaire (when it sold, he made $700 million), not Apple.

Lessons Learned

  • The product matters; differentiate, improve, upgrade, and be different like your life depends on it.
  • After Apple received its first investor, it took the company seven years to break into Fortune 500, seven years.
  • What would you be willing to fight for? To not sleep for? To not eat for? When you know it’s worth it, commit everything to it.
  • When creating something, designing something, design it for someone like you; what would you want?
  • When you create a team, you want magical wizards; you want non-peasant muggles. Get “elfin engineering wizards.” B players will drown you.
  • When you genuinely feel something is worth it, you must fight for it. Pixar was successful because Jobs pushed for it; when there wasn’t any budget, when people didn’t like it, when “powerful people” said “no,” Jobs did everything he could to make the animations still happen.
  • When coming back to Apple, after being fired, Jobs fired the entire board except for two people; when you need to make a change, make a change; don’t be petty about your whole life’s work.
  • Customers don’t know what they want until you show them.
  • Dominate a market if you can, Apple at one point outspent everyone in the music player market by a factor of one hundred, but they also completely dominated the market.
  • Customer stickiness is essential; once you start using iCloud, it’s hard to switch to a Kindle or Android device.
  • America’s education system needs a rework: unions in teaching are bad, teachers should be treated as professionals and not industrial assembly-line workers, principals should be able to hire and fire as they please, schools should stay open until 6 pm and be in session eleven months out of the year. Textbooks are antiquated and wrapped in beurocratic nonsense. The world has advanced; why can’t American schools?
  • Great artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were also great at science.


  • Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.
  • In the annals of innovation, new ideas are only part of the equation. Execution is just as important.
  • Steve is the opposite of loyal, he’s anti-loyal. He has to abandon the people he is close to. – Andy Hertzfeld
  • The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater. – Andy Hertzfeld
  • Real artists ship
  • Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?
  • [When John Lasseter describes Toy Story Concept]: As for toys, their purpose is to be played with by kids, and thus their existential fear is of being discarded or upstaged by newer toys.
  • Think Different
  • There are cars people are proud to have-Porsche, Ferrari, Prius-because what I drive says something about me. People feel the same way about an Apple Product. – Larry Ellison
  • If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much
  • Nobody is eager for a lecture, but everyone loves a story.
  • When we’re making products, there is no such thing as a Turkish phone, or a music player that young people in Turkey would want that’s different from one young people elsewhere would want. We’re just one world now.
  • Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” I never rely on market research.
Categories: Book Notes


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