Walter Isaacson discusses Apple and Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson delivered a lecture at the Royal Institution in London on Wednesday evening

By Karen Haslam, Macworld U.K. |  Business, Apple, Steve Jobs

Isaacson went on to explain that he wanted to do what biographers always try to do: "Show how the personality is connected to what the person does, to the product, to the business, to the science. Whether it's Einstein's rebellious, questioning everything, personality... So this notion of 'thinking differently' impressed me about Steve Jobs. His petulant personality. You read the first half of my book and you think, 'Wow! He's kind of a jerk", and then you realise by the end the book that it's connected to something larger. To a genius. To a passion, not just to drive people crazy, but a passion for perfection and a passion for product."

"That to me was one of the first lessons of Steve Jobs. Which is in this day and age, when everyone has a passion for making profits, this person had a passion for making the greatest product, and he said that the profits will follow. He said that at almost every company at a certain point the marketing people, the Steve Ballmer, are running the joint, and they put profits ahead of the product. He was always concerned about the perfection of a product, even the parts unseen. To him that was the mark of a true artist," said Isaacson.

"The notion that the team at Apple were artists creating something is the key theme, in my mind, in Steve Jobs' life. But also into what we should do in the 21st century in the digital revolution which is simply connecting beauty to technology. Loving both art and engineering, the notion of the liberal arts and the humanities, and the sciences going hand in hand." Isaacson went on to explain the relevance of Jobs interest in the intersection of the liberal arts and the sciences, based on a saying of Edwin Land the inventor of Polaroid. "In his first long conversation with me, Jobs said 'that was the theme of my life'. I think it turned out the be the valid thing in his life."

The Reality Distortion Field

The other thing that came from Jobs' passion for product was what they sometimes refer to as his Reality Distortion Field. "Some people say 'that's just another way of saying he manipulated and lied to people'. But no, it's a way of saying that his passion could drive people not only crazy, not only drive them to distraction, but drive them to do things they thought were impossible." Isaacson gave a number of examples of this: Getting Wozniak to design the Breakout game in four nights; getting Corning to deliver Gorilla Glass mere months before the iPhone launch. "He had a way of staring unblinking at people. He had perfected it. It was part of his reality distortion field."

Management bible?


Originally published on Macworld U.K. |  Click here to read the original story.
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