5 Lessons From the Book Becoming Steve Jobs I Learn

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I love reading about Steve Jobs, his characters, and how he created and transformed Apple.

The write-up explores a personal review and discusses five lessons from the book Becoming Steve Jobs, examining the life and career of one of the most influential technological figures. It was the second book about him after his official biography, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson.

By exploring the book’s critical insights, we can better understand Jobs’ visionary mindset and how his relentless pursuit of perfection fueled Apple’s innovative products. Becoming Steve Jobs offers a unique look into the genuine Steve Jobs beyond the simplistic narratives.

Written by two people who knew him well, it provides a more nuanced portrait through interviews with friends, family, and colleagues. The book aims to understand better what shaped this complex man. It’s a fascinating read for anyone interested in leadership, innovation, or tech.

Overview of Becoming Steve Jobs

Becoming Steve Jobs, co-authored by Rick Tetzeli and Brent Schlender, two veteran technology journalists who have interviewed Jobs extensively over 25 years, provides a more personal look at the co-founder of Apple.

Lessons from the book Becoming Steve Jobs

Published in 2015, it draws on a series of interviews with Jobs in his final years. Rather than depicting Jobs as either a hero or villain, the book aims to explore the growth and maturation that allowed him to evolve into a visionary leader. It provides insights into his personality, leadership style, and business strategies.

Why It’s Worth Reviewing

Given Jobs’ vast influence on personal technology and innovation, any book that offers a unique vantage point into his life and mind is worth examining. This book stands out for its unprecedented access to Jobs near the end of his life when he could reflect on his legacy.

For those interested in leadership lessons, the book provides valuable insights into Jobs’ creative process and relentless pursuit of perfection. It illustrates how his flaws fueled his genius and offers inspiration to bring a similar visionary mindset into our endeavors.

1. Who Was Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs was a visionary entrepreneur and business leader who co-founded Apple and led the company to become one of the most innovative technology giants in the world. He was also instrumental in transforming the publishing industry with his creative entrepreneurial drive.

Born in 1955 in California, Jobs had an unconventional upbringing that shaped his independent thinking and creativity from an early age. In 1976, he co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne (Wayne got cold feet and later withdrew), introducing the Apple I personal computer. This launched Apple on its trajectory to revolutionize consumer electronics and computing.

Throughout his career, Jobs was known for his perfectionism, attention to detail, and commitment to elegant design. He oversaw the development of many groundbreaking products at Apple, including the Macintosh computer, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. His influence reshaped multiple industries and brought innovative digital technology into the mainstream.

According to Walter Isaacson’s biography, Steve Jobs:

Jobs “helped usher in the era of personal computing and then built the world’s most valuable company by reinventing music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.”

As a business leader, Jobs demanded excellence and was infamous for his blunt criticism. However, he also inspired great loyalty among his team by articulating a compelling vision for Apple. Jobs’ key strengths were his ability to anticipate technology trends and design products with intuitive user experiences.

He paid meticulous attention to every detail, insisting that the inside of devices look as beautiful as the outside. This strive for perfection was integral to Apple’s identity.

While sometimes known for being stubborn, Jobs was open-minded to great ideas and talented people. He learned from failures and reinvented himself after being ousted from Apple in 1985, returning in 1997 to lead the company to new heights. Jobs’ visionary leadership made Apple one of the world’s most valuable brands and left an indelible mark on consumer technology.

Unique Attributes of Steve Jobs

Some standout qualities that made Steve Jobs a visionary leader include:

  • Creativity – Jobs had a knack for envisioning consumer products that people didn’t even know they wanted. This ability to think differently was a hallmark of his success.
  • Design obsession – Jobs was passionate about designing and crafting simple, elegant, and pleasurable products.
  • Attention to detail – From product design to marketing, Jobs paid attention to every aspect of the user experience.
  • Passion – Jobs brought infectious enthusiasm and passion to his work, pushing his team to excellence.
  • Persuasiveness – Known for his “reality distortion field,” Jobs could convince people to buy into his vision and work extremely hard to make it a reality.
  • Resilience – Jobs bounced back after being ousted from Apple to lead the company to new heights upon his return.
  • Master of presentation – Steve Jobs was an expert in presentation, with creative and engaging presentation slides.
  • Inspirational speeches – Job’s commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 was inspirational.

In many ways, Jobs’ unique blend of vision, design sensibility, and indomitable will make him a one-of-a-kind leader in the tech industry.

2. Delving into Becoming Steve Jobs

Becoming Steve Jobs provides a comprehensive look into the life and career of the legendary innovator. Unlike previous biographies focused on his abrasive personality, this book aims to fully capture the complexity of Jobs’ character and the experiences that shaped him.

The book’s narrative closely examines Jobs’ evolution, from his tumultuous early days at Apple to his triumphant second act upon returning to the company. It draws on interviews with Jobs from over 25 years and conversations with family, friends, and colleagues. This insider access allows the story to unfold through first-hand accounts rather than sensationalized myths.

While not shying away from Jobs’ flaws, the book provides meaningful context around his struggles and relationships. It reveals specific influences in his youth, such as his adoptive father, Paul Jobs, that instilled the seeds of his unrelenting vision. The authors carefully analyze key inflection points in his career that led to both failures and successes.

The book maintains an engaging, novelistic style that transports the reader through the highs and lows of Jobs’ journey. By emphasizing details and emotions over facts and figures, it captures the dynamism and complexity of this iconoclastic entrepreneur. While comprehensive in its scope, the book is written and accessible to a mainstream audience.

Key Details

  • Published in 2015 by Viking Press
  • Written by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli
  • 455 pages, divided into five main parts
  • Draws on personal interviews with Jobs and inner circle
  • Focuses on influences that shaped Jobs’ character

3. Key Insights from the Book

Becoming Steve Jobs provides fascinating insights into the personality, leadership style, and business strategies that made Steve Jobs such an iconic figure.

Though known for his abrasive behavior, the book reveals how Jobs matured and learned to connect more deeply with people. His early rocky relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak evolved into a strong friendship and partnership. We also learn how Jobs valued brutal honesty and debate in the workplace, pushing employees to do their best work.

The book exposes some surprising details about how Jobs handled major business decisions.

For example, though often viewed as inflexible, Jobs demonstrated flexibility in negotiating with Bill Gates to bring Microsoft Office to the Mac platform. He also overcame initial resistance to allow apps in the iPhone App Store, fueling the smartphone revolution. The book provides a balanced perspective on Jobs’ leadership strengths and weaknesses.

Personality and Leadership Style

The book reveals that Jobs matured from an arrogant young CEO motivated by fear to a more empathetic leader who connected with people’s desires to do great work. He remained bluntly honest but learned the value of collaboration. Jobs was a passionate visionary focused on making “insanely great” products.

Business Strategies

Key strategies that made Apple successful under Jobs were tight software and hardware integration, ease of use, design simplicity, building proprietary architecture, and maintaining secrecy until product unveilings. Jobs had an innate sense of what customers wanted before they knew it. He pushed innovative ideas past resistance through the force of will.

4. The Power of Vision – Lessons for the Reader

Steve Jobs was a true visionary who fundamentally changed the technology landscape through his relentless pursuit of innovation and perfection. His life story provides many valuable lessons that are still highly relevant for readers today.

Jobs’ Foresight and its Relevance

One of Jobs’ defining qualities was his ability to envision the future of technology and consumer needs years ahead of his time. For example, he conceived the idea for the iPhone in the early 2000s, when most cell phones were still simple devices focused on calls and texts.

His vision of an Internet-connected, app-driven, touchscreen smartphone was truly revolutionary when the first iPhone launched in 2007. Similarly, Jobs saw the potential for digital animation years before Pixar released Toy Story, which revolutionized animated films. He also envisioned Apple as a digital hub for photos, videos, music, and more long before most people understood the convergence of technology and media.

Jobs’ prescience highlights the importance of thinking ahead and having a bold vision for the future. His ability to anticipate technological shifts and consumer behavior provides an inspirational model for readers today. We can all strive to adopt a long-term mindset and remain open to where technological and societal trends may lead us.

Creativity, Innovation, and the Pursuit of Perfection

Throughout his career, Jobs exemplified the relentless pursuit of perfection through innovation. He constantly pushed boundaries and challenged norms to make great products even better. For example, the iPod went through hundreds of prototypes before the first model was released in 2001.

Jobs’ passion for innovation stemmed from a deep belief that great art and creativity have the power to change the world. He inspired those around him by fostering a culture of imagination and excellence. For readers today, Jobs serves as a role model for creatively approaching problems and never being satisfied with the status quo.

We can all aim to bring more creativity into our work, stay fixed on a compelling vision, and continue improving with an eye toward perfection. With dedication and unconventional thinking, we may also achieve innovations that positively impact people’s lives.

Steve Jobs’ visionary leadership and relentless drive to create “insanely great” products provide powerful lessons for readers seeking to make their dent in the universe. By emulating Jobs’ foresight, creativity, and pursuit of innovation, we can aspire to turn our bold ideas into world-changing realities. Jobs exemplified the power of human creativity and passion to transform the future.

5. Critique and Personal Thoughts

Reading Becoming Steve Jobs, I’m left with mixed feelings about the man and his legacy. On one hand, there’s no denying Jobs’ brilliance and vision. The book paints a nuanced portrait of a complex man who, despite his flaws, fundamentally changed the world of technology.

Yet I can’t help but feel troubled by some of Jobs’ more unseemly behaviors exposed in the book – the bullying, the pettiness, the lack of empathy at times. While these qualities may have fueled his success, they certainly don’t represent an ideal to aspire towards. I’m reminded that genius and ethical behavior don’t always go hand-in-hand.

That said, the book helped me better understand what drove Jobs. I see now that his abrasive style wasn’t entirely without reason. The clarity of his vision compelled him to demand perfection from others, though it often emerged as callousness. This insight doesn’t excuse his actions but provides context.

Mostly, this book reinforced my immense respect for Jobs’ ability to “think different.” He envisioned the future with startling prescience and brought innovative ideas to life that now feel indispensable. His relentless focus on creating great products that would improve people’s lives inspires me.

If I could change one thing, I wish the book provided more analysis on whether Jobs’ harsh leadership style was truly necessary or could have been softened. Additionally, I would have liked perspectives from more Apple employees to balance out the narrative.

Overall, Becoming Steve Jobs is a fascinating, if imperfect, portrait of an enigmatic genius. It reveals that Jobs’ legacy is nuanced – he spearheaded revolutionary innovation yet caused real damage through his unforgiving management style. The lessons are complex, much like the man himself.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The book’s greatest strength is its rich insights into Jobs’ personality and what drove him. The authors did extensive research to present a well-rounded perspective. I also appreciated the book’s fluid, novelistic writing style, which made this biography engaging to read.

The main weakness was the lack of critical examination of Jobs’ leadership flaws. The narrative felt one-sided at times. Additionally, the book could have benefited from more varied viewpoints beyond Jobs’ inner circle.

Reinforcing and Changing Views of Jobs

My existing admiration for Jobs’ work at Apple was reinforced. But this book exposed sides of him I wasn’t aware of, like his interest in Zen Buddhism and his more caring nature later in life.

My views changed regarding Jobs’ interpersonal leadership skills. His brusque style was mostly a myth, but the book confirms he could be harsh. Yet it helped me understand this behavior stemmed from his intense vision.

Mostly, this biography revealed Jobs’ complexity. He was neither a saint nor a villain but a brilliant, flawed human being who left an indelible mark on technology.


Lessons from the book Becoming Steve Jobs give us profound insights into the life and mind of one of history’s greatest visionaries. Through examining his early life, achievements, leadership style, and business strategies, the book paints a nuanced portrait of a complex man driven by creativity, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of perfection.

Some of the key lessons we can take away from Steve Jobs’ life include:

  • The importance of thinking differently, challenging the status quo, and following one’s vision.
  • The power of integrating technology with design, arts, and the humanities.
  • The need for hands-on leadership, direct involvement, and attention to detail.
  • The role of building outstanding teams and fostering a culture of excellence.
  • The wisdom in focusing on a few key priorities and saying no to distractions.

While not without flaws, Steve Jobs exemplified the sheer force of will, imagination, and audacity needed to change the world. His unconventional path and relentless intensity contain lessons for us all.

I highly recommend reading Becoming Steve Jobs to anyone seeking inspiration to think differently, push boundaries, and bring their visions to life. Steve’s story reminds us that we can achieve great things with passion, perseverance, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

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