Steve Jobs biography came out with great fanfare last week, but if you don’t know anything about Jobs life and are looking for a sneak peek at what you may find in there it’s a good idea to check out Jeff Goodell’s piece on Jobs in Rolling Stone.
It’s an excellent and quite revealing look at his life from a guy that made it his business to cover his life. You can tell much of it is from personal experience and in typical Rolling Stone style the author is present throughout the piece. The story details his journey from youth to abrasive CEO to humbled CEO and back to a man looking to wrap up the loose ends later in life.
The gems in this story (basically the parts that we don’t already know) are the revelations that early in life he was driven by his birth parents abandoning him and was hard pressed to prove that he was worthy of being loved. It sounds a little romanticized, but that tends to happen when you fit the messy details of somebody’s life into a narrative.
“Steve always had that James Dean live-fast, die-young thing,” recalls Apple programmer Steve Capps in the story.
The first turning point in his young life was actually heading to India. Jobs was heavily influenced by the 60’s and believed in the enlightenment and the ideals of that generation. He travelled to India to see noted philosopher Neem Karoli Baba, but came back with a different perspective on life after seeing so much poverty in the country.
“This was one of the first times I thought maybe Thomas Edison did more to improve the world than Karl Marx or Neem Karoli Baba ever did,” Jobs said.
The rest of the story you already know. His control-freak nature as CEO of Apple pushed the company to new heights with his obsessive demand for originality. It ultimately led to his ouster and a period of soul-searching as he started NExT and smoothed out many of the hard edges of his youth.
The last stage of the story is his return to Apple after turning Pixar into a multi-billion dollar company and his cancer diagnosis that pushed him to reevaluate his life and in some ways pushed him to create the Ipod and Ipad.
Well worth a read if you don’t want to read the book or simply want to know what you’re getting into.