Part 1: Jerk and Genius, Biographer Walter Isaacson Talks Steve Jobs in Sarasota
Steve Jobs was a “jerk,” biographer Walter Isaacson said during the kick off of the Ringling College Library Association’s Town Hall 2013 Lecture Series on Jan. 15, in Sarasota, Fla.
Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute and former Chairman and CEO of CNN and editor of TIME magazine, penned “Steve Jobs“, the only authorized biography about the co-founder, CEO and chairman of Apple Inc. Jobs continuously pushed the author to write an honest book and Isaacson discussed the challenge of doing such.
“It was tough, I don’t like saying bad things about a person’s personality but I tried to show how the bad side of his personality helped contribute to the passion and the genius of what he achieved,” he said.
“I tried to be nice but also tried to be honest and also tried to say he was a jerk at times. But being a jerk was part of his passion and his genius.”
Prior to hearing Isaacson, I really didn’t give much thought to my iPhone or iPad. To me, they were groovy pieces of advanced technology but now having a better understanding of Steve Jobs’ philosophy and drive, I have a stronger appreciation for these technological pieces of art. When Jobs was a boy, his father told him to finish the backside of a fence surrounding their family home and Jobs questioned why, “No one will know,” he said.
His father replied, “You will know.”
Having spent much time together, Isaacson recounted several stories about Jobs which offered insight into his philosophy into making Apple what it was when he passed away on Oct. 5, 2011, after battling pancreatic cancer.
Did Steve Jobs believe Apple’s Competitive Drive Would Continue Without Him?
According to Walter Isaacson, Jobs was very sick and in a wheelchair when he read his letter of resignation to the Apple Board of Directors in August 2011. In an attempt to cheer him up, they talked how Hewlett-Packard had just gotten out of the tablet computer industry.
“Steve finally said ‘Stop. When I was a young kid I called Bill Hewlett he was in phone book and gave me a summer job. He gave me a part I needed,'” Isaacson said, recounting what Jobs told the board. “‘He and Dave Packer thought they were going to make a company that would last for generation, that even after they were gone Hewlet t-Packard would still be creative.
“‘These bozos running it now screwed it up. Don’t let that happen to Apple,'” according to Isaacson, Jobs continued by saying, “‘You gotta always stay at the center where creativity is meeting technology. You always have to have beauty and know that beauty matters.'”
Was Jobs concerned about the future of Apple? Isaacson thinks he was a bit worried but “felt he had a really good team there.”
He continued saying Jobs had several products in the pipeline including digital textbooks, a camera to take pictures fast and assimilate them so they are in perfect focus and a television that you take out of the box, plug in and use.
Isaacson pointed out Apple has not executed Jobs’ vision by saying, “One of the great things Apple used to do is every three or four years , ‘Whoa!’ You’d be hit,” referring to new products that took off such as a music player (iPod), new cell phone (iPhone) and iPads.
“They’re due for another big ‘holy cow’ and I think Steve would be saying, ‘Hey, what’s taking you guys so long?'” With a smile Isaacson added, “The stock market is saying it too after the past couple of years.”
Ringling College Library Association Town Hall 2013 Lecture Series
Walter Isaacson kicked off the Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Lecture Series which features a dynamic list of speakers. Following is a listing of upcoming lectures which are scheduled at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. A limited number of tickets to morning and evening lectures are available.
Dr. Robert Gates, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013
Dr. Benjamin Carson, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013
Capt. Mark Kelly, Monday, March 11, 2013
Tom Brokaw, Monday, April 8, 2013
Contact the Ringling College Library Association at (941) 925-1343 to purchase individual tickets.