Two Questions & a Few Thoughts on Steve Jobs’ Biography

by Holland-Mark | December 3, 2011

I started the omnipresent Steve Jobs biography with two questions: was Steve Jobs an asshole? And if so… did he need to be to accomplish what he did?

Having just finished it, I don’t have a good answer to either question. In fact both seem foolishly simplistic given this rich, sweeping, detailed, and intimate depiction a truly remarkable man’s life experience.

What I learned about Steve Jobs is that he was very good at some things, and very bad at others. Among the things he was very good at, his true genius lay in his ability to develop products people love at the intersection of engineering and humanities. Later in life he shifted more of his energies toward building a company that institutionalized this genius, though it will be a while before we learn whether he succeeded.

What I learned about life – or about business, anyway – is that both our strengths and our weaknesses shape the things we create. What’s remarkable about the life of Steve Jobs is how the psychoses and eccentricities of his personality, when channeled through his defining product genius, created the world’s most valuable company. His story is not of a man overcoming the limitations of his worldview; it’s the story of a man who changed the world itself to accommodate it.

You are not Steve Jobs, as Allen Kelly pointed out in his insightful blog post a few weeks back. But maybe there’s a lesson for all of us in the story of a man who brought some beauty into the world not just because of the gifts that made him a genius, but because of the flaws and idiosyncrasies that made him a person.

This content was originally posted on on November 27th, 2011