The new Steve Jobs biography “Becoming Steve Jobs” is making its rounds in the news, with most outlets revealing that this version has received much more acceptance on its characterization of Jobs, unlike the earlier version by Walter Isaacson “Steve Jobs”. The two books shed both similar and different aspects of Steve Jobs, and since the publication of the first book, Apple has been keen on setting the record straight on the person that was Steve Jobs. Which Steve Jobs biography got it right?
Why the hate over “Steve Jobs”?
Tim Cook on the previous biography:
It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality. You get the feeling that [Steve’s] a greedy, selfish egomaniac. It didn’t capture the person. The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time. Life is too short.
Maybe this excerpt showed a side of Steve Jobs that was less flattering:
When it came time to assign employee badge numbers, Apple’s first president, Mike Scott, gave Wozniak No. 1 and Jobs No. 2. Jobs was furious and demanded to be No. 1, but Scott refused. Finally, they reached a compromise: Jobs would be badge No. 0. – from “Steve Jobs”
People change, and there is no reason for friends, family, and colleagues to rush and cover up or inflate other aspects of Steve Jobs so we would not pay attention to acts like the one above. None of us have ever made mistakes when we were young or put ourselves first at a time in which we shouldn’t?
Why is this one so much better?
It should be clearly noted that the executives at Apple would have a clear bias toward this version from the get go as the company gave the two authors – Rick Tetzeli and Brent Schlender – access to a large number of executives so that they could get the “right” story (Apple was able to read the finished version before publication and was allowed to edit only factual mistakes – or so we are told).
In contrast to the first biography, this time around personal insights from the authors on the charismatic Jobs came from personal experiences that had nothing to do with writing the book (at least at that time) and everything to do about plain old relationships. Isaacson got to know Steve Jobs just to write about him, whereas co-author Brent Schlender enjoyed a somewhat close relationship with Jobs – as deep as visiting Jobs at home when it was clear that his health was not improving.
In a sneak-peek excerpt of the book, published recently on Fast Company by the two co-authors, it appears that everything was about changing the view of “who was Steve Jobs”, and it gets to a point where you have to wonder what was Jobs really like – and not just to those that were closest to him.
Who was Steve Jobs?
We really won’t know 100% of who he was – but then again we never know everything about anyone, even those that are closest to us which brings us back to one question: why all the fuss? To the average bloke that enjoys technology, entrepreneurship, and/or Apple, Jobs was and will continue to be seen as an innovator. That seems like the most important thing. A book doesn’t judge a man’s character, and regardless of whether or not the second biography had been written, anyone that wanted to know more about the person that was Steve Jobs could just wonder forever or tune into one of the hundreds of articles on Apple at or around his death.
Is Steve Jobs only the man portrayed in the book by Walter Isaacson or only the man portrayed in “Becoming Steve Jobs”? Is it possible to be one in the office and another one out of the office? In the end, each one will have his own beliefs regarding the innovator, as there is no one right answer. Truth be told, both books probably portrayed him correctly in some way or another.
Just remember him as an innovator. Just remember him as a game-changer. Just remember him for his ambition. Just remember him for being a hi-tech pioneer. Just remember – that’s all that really matters, no?