Saturday, June 9, 2012

Steve jobs

Just completed the book on Steve jobs by Walter Issacson. Felt very emotional after reading the book and envy the life that Steve managed to live. He wasn't necessarily as smart as Einstein. He didn't have the product knowledge, which bill gates did. Bill has always been an excellent programmer. Steve knew nothing about programming. (One reason why bill believed he was better than Steve jobs.)

It is a very moving, touching book. I started off the book by saying that i knew everything that happened in his life. We knew he was ousted from apple; we knew of the miraculous comeback to apple; we knew about the gem he unearthed called pixar, and we all knew about the iPod, iPhone, iPad and a myriad of idevices, which ended up deciding what we do with our life and which ended up changing our life.

But reading the book is a whole new experience even if you knew all the above. It talks so much about how he worked and what he believed and what went through his mind. It explains his thought process...That is the only reason i read biographies. It explains a great man's thought process. And the hope that i might improve mine. Even one in hundredth of that skill will make me a better person. And this book is no exception.

Moving on the book itself, i found it un-put-downable. I was awake until 6am reading the book. Author talks about the early life and pixar days a lot, which was fine with me. But i expected similar depth for the later life too with the iPad and iPhone. But i find the later part is missing the depth. Probably author decided to cut them down given the much publicized product launches and the numerous stories. The book is like a novel. It talks about what happened in Steve's life in chronological order. But the author is clever enough to build the expectation a bit by saying how much every incident will impact the future. One other thing i liked about the book is, the author has managed to bust all myths about Steve. If there were actually any rumor he confronts Steve directly. He confronts all sorts of people will all these interesting questions, including people like Bill gates.

One other revelation in the book is that bill gates is not such a bad man after all. And he has an amazing sense of humour. I must add one instance in the book.

It is the all things D event. Jobs and Gates are supposed to be on stage at the same time, fielding questions. This was during the peak of the Mac V PC war. (After iPhone success and all that) The talk was scheduled for evening. Steve had given a presentation few hours, before the big Jobs-Gates talk, and while fielding questions, someone highlighted that iTunes was the most downloaded software for windows PC. Steve gives his trademark smirk and says, "of course. iTunes is like giving a glass of cold water to someone in hell" The whole auditorium erupts in laughter. But the organisers were not. They were worried that Bill might react to this comment badly during the meeting later where he has to come face to face with Steve. Anyways, it is evening and the meeting is about to begin. Bill Gates is aware of Steve's comment earlier in the day. But he simply walks to the stadium shakes hand with the organisers. Steve is already on stage, waiting for the presentation to begin. Bill comes close to Steve, closes the mic with his hand and asks him, "So i am the representative from hell, huh?" Steve is taken back a bit at that comment. But manages to laugh a bit. Bill laughs and the incident is forgotten. Steve remembers this incident in one of his interviews with the author.

There was another incident. This is when Steve is extremely sick and is in his third medical leave. This time everyone is aware that he wont make it back to apple campus. This is when Steve's pictures got released in the internet, where he looks terribly thin and broken. Bill sees this photo and calls Steve and asks to meet him. Steve agrees, but then cancels the event in the last minute. Bill doesn't give up. He goes to Steve's house and walks over to the backyard and sees his daughter playing. He quietly asks her if her father is awake. And when the daughter says yes, co-incidentally Steve walks out to the garden and is surprised to see bill. They end up spending the whole day talking about their past, and about Microsoft and apple and about their families. Steve later recalls this incident in the book and speaks highly of Bill and his charity. I recently learnt that bill gates gave away half of his wealth and saved 6 million lives so far. 6 million. New found respect for Bill Gates.

One thing that struck me was how difficult it is for a honest person with honest taste to survive in the world. How much purity and openness are under valued. Though his Mac failed, i am glad iPhone got its due respect. "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" says Steve in the book. How true right? Though it is a cliche, to be simple is not simple at all. It is a conscious choice in life and precisely why it is difficult. If you read the book, you would be amazed at the detail in every product that apple made (i still wont convert to an iphone though) and how much Steve cared about his products, even when his company was in a dis-array. Only a maniac would not compromise in that situation.  Maybe that is why Steve was so successful. He was such a maniac, when it came to his products. The brilliant apple ad says, "Only people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do" And Steve was certainly in that group of misfits.

They are going to make a movie out of Steve's life. I think the movie should start when Steve was ousted from Apple and it should show the less-talked about, but the most wonderful time in his life, when he starts pixar and next and how he gets accustomed to normal life. The movie should focus on this part of life and should end with him becoming the iCEO of apple and connect the dots in his past. I think that part of his life is truly worthy of a movie.