Steve Jobs, the enigmatic founder and leader of Apple Inc., has been gone less than a year, but it is likely that we will be debating the man and his legacy for the rest of our lifetimes and beyond. What fodder for debate we have in a figure like Jobs? A Zen Buddhist who routinely belittled and abused others, a 1960’s hippie flower child who was so outrageously selfish that he continually parked in handicapped parking spaces even after photos of him doing so were repeatedly posted online, and a self-described humanist who rarely put his friends or family above business. While Walter Isaacson’s amazing and brutal biography, published just after his death, currently serves as our collective take on Jobs and his accomplishments, it will certainly not represent the last word on the man. Just as we continue to examine the other universe denting individuals that Jobs is often compared to - Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Walt Disney – we will look at Jobs from a new angle and through a seemingly endless series of contemporary lenses far into the future. Last week I read Insanely Simple: the obsession that drives Apple’s success by Ken Segall, an advertising executive who had worked closely with Jobs to develop the Apple brand and the advertising that would so effectively express it. The book isn’t focused specifically on Steve Jobs, but nevertheless, he and his legendarily micromanagement techniques are displayed and praised on nearly every page of the book. While I was reading Insanely Simple and seeing Jobs and Apple’s adherence to simplicity in all things as a special kind of genius, I happened to see that Jobs was once again featured on the cover of Wired magazine which ran a feature article titled The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale. The article tells of several high-powered Silicon Valley execs who after reading the Isaacson biography have decided it’s not worth it to be like Steve and have begun to focus more on their families and the quality of the time they get to spend while on this Earth. As one reformed Jobs admirer states in the article when referring to Jobs and his focus on work and not his family, “If you’re going to fail at building something, fail at building the (expletive) iPad. Don’t fail at building children.” Are we seeing breaks in the Steve Jobs reality distortion field or have we simply misunderstood Jobs and his legacy? Time will tell, and tell again.
Insanely Simple: the obsession that drives Apple's success