I'm about one third of the way through Steve Jobs' authorized biography by Walter Isacsson, and while I might write a complete review whenever I finish it, I already have a few things to get off my chest.
Even though I consider myself an early adopter and bought the first iPad the day it came out (and have already owned four different iPhones), I've never read a book digitally until now. It seemed fitting to give my first trial with iBooks on the iPad to Jobs' biography, and honestly, it's no less pleasant than reading a hard copy. Even reading pages on the tiny iPhone isn't too bad – what's cool is the the "cloud" knows where you left off, from device to device. It's extremely convenient.
But beyond the delivery method, I'm mostly taken aback by the subject of the book and Jobs stood for. I'm not a stockholder, but I've used Macs exclusively since my parents bought first one in 1985. Before that, I learned BASIC on the Commodore 64, but at school, we all used Apple IIs. Jobs' imprint has been with me since third grade.
As of today, I'm at the point in the book when Jobs and his team launched the first Mac. It takes me back to a time when I would fiddle with MacPaint, learn about fonts and teach myself how computers worked. In many ways, it's not so different today, and I've lost count how many Apple computers I've owned, but it's well into the double digits. I've grudgingly used PCs running Windows and Linux and Blackberry phones, but at this point, there's virtually no chance I will ever buy a computer or mobile device that doesn't run the Apple OS du jour. I'm a customer for life.
The man behind Apple, though was clearly an insane genius, and at least up until 1985 (and probably beyond) was an insufferable bastard. He motivated alternately out of fear and grandiose predictions about changing the universe. He was fickle, stubborn and weird. Naturally, as an entrepreneur, myself, I am drawing some comparisons between us.
Yes, Jobs was smarter, more driven, more visionary and more successful than me, but I still see some parallels about how we manage our teams (and most aren't so good). I realize that as I read this book, I'm rooting for him to straighten himself out and grow up. Because he was such a private person, I honestly don't know if and when that happened, but I can barely put the book down. I can relate to more than I want to admit.
It's not because Jobs was my business hero, though his products and his legacy are interwoven into every hour of my waking life. It's because his unlikely story, and now, the platforms upon which I learn about it, have me obsessing about "The Steve."
Oddly, in life, he was just that quirky guy who ran the company I loved to hate. Only in his death am I beginning to understand what this cocky, insane, complex and brilliant man meant to the world – and how I interact with it.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.