Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Synopsis

Introduction

In a clear, elegant biographical voice, Walter Isaacson provides an unflinching portrait of the most important technological and innovative personality of the modern era: Apple’s founder and chief thinker, Steve Jobs. Through a series of unprecedented interviews with Jobs—as well as interviews with more than 100 friends, family members, colleagues, adversaries, admirers, and imitators—Isaacson documents the transformation of an ambitious Silicon Valley whiz kid into one of the most feared and respected business leaders of his generation and quite possibly of all time; arriving at some hard truths about a man who defined the intersection of art and technology for the digital age and the future to come. 

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1.  Discuss Jobs’ harsh binary system of appraisal. Why do you think it worked so well in tangent with his style of leadership? Do you think there is merit in living to such high standards? Is it unrealistic or ultimately impractical?

2.  Which do you think is more beneficial for the future of technology: end-to-end hardware and software integration or open and customizable systems? Do you agree with Jobs that good products can only come from closed, centralized environments? Why or why not?

3.  Chapter 11 is titled “The Reality Distortion Field: Playing by His Own Set of Rules.” Discuss this term and how it is used to both compliment and criticize Jobs. How did Jobs’ “reality distortion field” influence those around him? Do you think this kind of denial or warping of expectations should be used to motivate employees?

4.  Do you view Apple as representative of the alternative counterculture Steve Jobs originated from, or part of a techno-corporate “Big Brother” that he so ardently railed against? 

5.  Discuss Apple’s revitalization after Jobs’ return, particularly the distillation of Apple’s offerings from a slew of products to only a handful. Is there some inherent risk in limiting your projects and “trimming the fat?” Do you think this is a business model other technology companies should follow? Why or why not? In your opinion, does it afford greater focus or limit a company’s potential?

6.  Consider the core tenets of Jobs’ vision: poetry connected to engineering, bold and simple design, the intersection of technology and liberal arts, and ease of use through end-to-end integration. How does Apple and its products exemplify these ideals?

7.  Isaacson writes, “The theory, shared by many, is that the tough love made him wiser and more mature. But it’s not that simple. At the company he founded after being ousted from Apple, Jobs was able to indulge all of his instincts, both good and bad. He was unbound. The result was a series of spectacular products that were dazzling market flops. This was the true learning experience. What prepared him for the great success he would have in Act III was not his ouster from Act I at Apple but his brilliant failures in Act II.” Do you share this opinion?  Discuss Jobs’ time with NeXT and his involvement with Pixar in your answer. How did these ventures ready him for a powerful return to the company he founded?

8.  Jobs’ is quoted as saying, “I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company.” Can a streamlined company spawn innovation more so than a single creative individual? Is Jobs’ greatest legacy his operational approach or Apple as a larger corporate entity?

9.  How did Jobs approach industry competitors? Consider the statement he made at the 1997 Macworld conference: “‘Apple lives in an ecosystem…It needs help from other partners. Relationships that are destructive don’t help anybody in this industry.’” Did he always adhere to this principle of partnerships and existing within an ecosystem?

10. Discuss the merits and pitfalls of Jobs’ obsession with design—from Apple products, to paint color in its factories, to retail spaces, and even the look of Lee Clow’s advertisements. Consider the following quote from Jobs in your response: “Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers.”

11.  Consider Apple’s approach to brand marketing and advertisement. What is the ultimate goal in Apple’s advertising? Discuss the “Think Different” campaign of 1997. What was the campaign’s message? How did it position Apple’s products and corporate identity? Consider the following quote in your response: “It was designed to celebrate not what the computers could do, but what creative people could do with the computers.” Why is this an important distinction?

12.  Jobs held closely to Mike Markkula’s edict that a good company must “impute”—that everything from packaging to marketing must convey a product’s value and concept. How does Apple accomplish this? Can you think of any other products that you consume or interact with that also “impute”?

13.  Jobs was convinced that a consumer did not know what they want—that often it was up to innovators to predict what the next great necessity or commodity would be. Do you agree? How can this basic principle be applied to all forms of business? What do you envision the “next big thing” to be?

14.  How has your perspective of Apple as a corporate entity and of Steve Jobs as an individual changed after reading this biography? Would you ever want to work for someone like Steve Jobs? Why or why not?

15.  Jobs had a penchant for taking his passion to the smallest levels, going so far as to trade barbs with bloggers and interact with consumers. Should a CEO be involved on the ground level of the corporation? How did Jobs’ personal commitment to defending his products and his company’s contribute to his iconology?

Enhance Your Discussion 

1.  Visit a local Apple store and note the design and layout of the space. Is the store successful in “imputing?” Is each function of the store’s sections intuitive through its design? What kind of emotional, visual, and intellectual response do you have when you enter an Apple store?

2.  Reflect on how Apple products have influenced your daily life. What Apple products do you own? How have these devices impacted how you work, how you communicate, or how you ingest media?

3.  Use your critical eye to consider the functions of furniture and appliances in your household. Is the product efficient? Isthere a connection between design and functionality? Do you see any room for improvement or innovation? How could Jobs’ principle of simplicity in design improve these everyday products?

4.  Watch one of Jobs’ Apple keynote presentations. How would you describe his presentation style? His communication style? How does he build excitement and intrigue? For the full archive of Apple keynote presentations and announcements, visit http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/apple-keynotes/id275834665.

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Chapters

  • SteveJobsUAB 01 Open
    Duration: 33s
  • SteveJobsUAB 02 ThePeople
    Duration: 13s
  • SteveJobsUAB 03 Introduction
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 04 Chapter1
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 05 SiliconValley
    Duration: 17min
  • SteveJobsUAB 06 School
    Duration: 23min
  • SteveJobsUAB 07 Chapter2
    Duration: 11min
  • SteveJobsUAB 08 InAddition
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 09 TheBlueBox
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 10 Chapter3
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 11 ReedCollege
    Duration: 11min
  • SteveJobsUAB 12 RobertFriedland
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 13 DropOut
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 14 Chapter4
    Duration: 15min
  • SteveJobsUAB 15 TheSearch
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 16 BreakOut
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 17 Chapter5
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 18 TheHomeBrew
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 19 AppleIsBorn
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 20 GarageBand
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 21 Chapter6
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 22 MikeMarkulla
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 23 RegisMcKenna
    Duration: 17min
  • SteveJobsUAB 24 Chapter7
    Duration: 15min
  • SteveJobsUAB 25 Chapter8
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 26 XeroxPARC
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 27 GreatArtistsSteal
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 28 Chapter9
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 29 BabyYoureA
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 30 Chapter10
    Duration: 13min
  • SteveJobsUAB 31 TexacoTowers
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 32 Chapter11
    Duration: 19min
  • SteveJobsUAB 33 Chapter12
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 34 LikeAPorsche
    Duration: 17min
  • SteveJobsUAB 35 Chapter13
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 36 EndToEnd
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 37 MachinesOfThe
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 38 LetsBePirates
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 39 JobsAnd
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 40 Chapter14
    Duration: 16min
  • SteveJobsUAB 41 TheHoneymoon
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 42 Chapter15
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 43 The1984Ad
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 44 PublicityBlast
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 45 January24
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 46 Chapter16
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 47 AfterAWhile
    Duration: 01min
  • SteveJobsUAB 48 TheBattleOfTheGUI
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 49 Chapter17
    Duration: 15min
  • SteveJobsUAB 50 Falling
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 51 ThirtyYearsOld
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 52 Exodus
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 53 Showdown
    Duration: 13min
  • SteveJobsUAB 54 PlottingACoup
    Duration: 03min
  • SteveJobsUAB 55 SevenDaysInMay
    Duration: 11min
  • SteveJobsUAB 56 MondayMay27th
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 57 LikeARollingStone
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 58 Chapter18
    Duration: 18min
  • SteveJobsUAB 59 ToBeOnYourOwn
    Duration: 15min
  • SteveJobsUAB 60 TheComputer
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 61 PerotToTheRescue
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 62 GatesAndNext
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 63 IBM
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 64 TheLaunch
    Duration: 13min
  • SteveJobsUAB 65 Chapter19
    Duration: 11min
  • SteveJobsUAB 66 Animation
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 67 TinToy
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 68 Chapter20
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 69 FindingJoannAnd
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 70 TheLostFather
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 71 Lisa
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 72 TheRomantic
    Duration: 13min
  • SteveJobsUAB 73 Chapter21
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 74 TheWedding
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 75 AFamilyHome
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 76 LisaMovesIn
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 77 Children
    Duration: 03min
  • SteveJobsUAB 78 Chapter22
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 79 Cut
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 80 ToInfinity
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 81 Chapter23
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 82 AppleFalling
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 83 SlouchingToward
    Duration: 17min
  • SteveJobsUAB 84 Chapter24
    Duration: 23min
  • SteveJobsUAB 85 ExitPerusedBy
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 86 AtTimes
    Duration: 14min
  • SteveJobsUAB 87 MacworldBoston
    Duration: 03min
  • SteveJobsUAB 88 TheMicrosoftPact
    Duration: 11min
  • SteveJobsUAB 89 Chapter25
    Duration: 13min
  • SteveJobsUAB 90 iCEO
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 91 KillingTheClones
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 92 ProductLineReview
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 93 Chapter26
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 94 InsideThe
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 95 Chapter27
    Duration: 15min
  • SteveJobsUAB 96 TheLaunch
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 97 Chapter28
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 98 MockTurtlenecks
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 99 FromiCEOTo
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 100 Chapter29
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 101 ThePrototype
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 102 WoodStoneSteel
    Duration: 03min
  • SteveJobsUAB 103 AnotherNotable
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 104 Chapter30
    Duration: 03min
  • SteveJobsUAB 105 Firewire
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 106 iTunes
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 107 TheiPod
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 108 ThatsIt
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 109 TheWhitenessOf
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 110 Chapter31
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 111 HerdingCats
    Duration: 13min
  • SteveJobsUAB 112 Microsoft
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 113 MrTambourine
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 114 Chapter32
    Duration: 11min
  • SteveJobsUAB 115 BobDylan
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 116 TheBeatles
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 117 Bono
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 118 YoYoMa
    Duration: 01min
  • SteveJobsUAB 119 Chapter33
    Duration: 11min
  • SteveJobsUAB 120 StevesOwnMovie
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 121 TheDivorce
    Duration: 15min
  • SteveJobsUAB 122 TheImpasse
    Duration: 15min
  • SteveJobsUAB 123 Chapter34
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 124 IntelInside
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 125 Options
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 126 Chapter35
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 127 TheStanfordCommencement
    Duration: 03min
  • SteveJobsUAB 128 ALionAtFifty
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 129 InAncientRome
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 130 Chapter36
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 131 MultiTouch
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 132 GorillaGlass
    Duration: 05min
  • SteveJobsUAB 133 TheDesign
    Duration: 03min
  • SteveJobsUAB 134 TheLaunch
    Duration: 04min
  • SteveJobsUAB 135 Chapter37
    Duration: 18min
  • SteveJobsUAB 136 Memphis
    Duration: 14min
  • SteveJobsUAB 137 Return
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 138 Chapter38
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 139 TheLaunch
    Duration: 13min
  • SteveJobsUAB 140 Advertising
    Duration: 06min
  • SteveJobsUAB 141 Apps
    Duration: 07min
  • SteveJobsUAB 142 PublishingAnd
    Duration: 19min
  • SteveJobsUAB 143 Chapter39
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 144 FlashTheApp
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 145 Antennagate
    Duration: 14min
  • SteveJobsUAB 146 HereComesTheSun
    Duration: 02min
  • SteveJobsUAB 147 Chapter40
    Duration: 14min
  • SteveJobsUAB 148 iCloud
    Duration: 11min
  • SteveJobsUAB 149 ANewCampus
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 150 Chapter41
    Duration: 16min
  • SteveJobsUAB 151 PresidentObama
    Duration: 08min
  • SteveJobsUAB 152 ThirdMedicalLeave
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 153 Visitors
    Duration: 09min
  • SteveJobsUAB 154 ThatDayHasCome
    Duration: 12min
  • SteveJobsUAB 155 Chapter42
    Duration: 18min
  • SteveJobsUAB 156 AndOneMoreThing
    Duration: 10min
  • SteveJobsUAB 157 Coda
    Duration: 01min
  • SteveJobsUAB 158 Outro
    Duration: 01min

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