Originally Posted by Marvin
He made out arrogantly like Steve Jobs wasn't really worthy of his authorship and in the book makes him out to be some deluded, reality-distorted cry-baby who treated people really badly. There may have been elements of that in his character but Isaacson seems to revisit this too often in quite a biased manner.
I disagree. I don't think Isaacson came across as arrogant or biased at all and he has a good track record with his other historical biographies. In fact, I got the impression that he really liked Steve and felt badly putting the negative stuff in the book, but felt he had to in order to give the full picture of what Steve Jobs was actually like. And I've heard almost every story in the book before, so there is a ring of truth to them. (What I hadn't heard before was the fact that he wasn't close to the daughters he had with his wife.)
Most geniuses turn out not to be very nice people. Picasso treated all of his wives really badly. Thomas Edison was hated by almost everybody. Einstein apparently treated his wife badly and had other character flaws. For all his talk about peace and his personal rage about being abandoned by his own mother (and father), John Lennon pretty much abandoned his son Julian and Cynthia Lennon claims she was physically abused. He was known to start fistfights from time to time, almost coming to blows with Bob Dylan at a club once.
Most "heroes" are actually flawed and complex characters. It's that complexity that makes them interesting. They're not saints. I've always had a theory that people like Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, etc. have mild forms of autism. It's what allows them to focus so strongly on their area of interest and become great at it, but it's also why they don't deal well in social situations and appear to be highly arrogant. People put up with it because of their genius. It also may be why Jobs had a binary approach to the world (at least according to Isaacson) thinking everything (and everybody) was either fantastic or shit. And being a genius himself, Jobs did not suffer fools gladly. There are many people who feel the same way, but they tend to hold back their feelings. According to the book, Jobs apparently never held back his feelings, regardless of who he was dealing with. If Jobs had a major flaw, it wasn't that he demanded perfection (even though Apple products, especially the first versions of them, were far from perfect anyway), it's that he made it personal.
The incidences of Steve's behavior as portrayed in the book didn't surprise me. What did surprise me, if accurately portrayed, was the amount of "curses" that he spewed and how emotional he was. I never pictured Steve crying a lot.
The "reality distortion field" didn't surprise me either (and I've certainly heard about it before) because I've worked for people who managed the same way. I've worked on projects that were disasters for six months and then the CEO comes in and says "we're going to fix this in 48 hours", even though that's impossible. (Although with Steve, he frequently succeeded at driving his people to make it possible.)
In most Fortune 500 companies, Jobs' abuse of his employees would be considered to construe a hostile working environment. Frankly, I wonder how he got away with it. What will be interesting to see now is whether Cook's lower-key approach, which presumably will take the pressure off of people, will help Apple or hurt Apple. Jobs seemed great at pushing people to do their best work, even if there was a lot of pain involved.