A person must have an outsized ego to approach the author of biographies of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin to write his own biography.
Steve Jobs seems to have had no problem asking Walter Isaacson to undertake that assignment.
Once you read Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs,” you realize that the founder of Apple thought he had earned the right to be in the company of such great thinkers/innovators.
Although Jobs cooperated with the author, he sought no control over the biography and did not ask to read it before it was published.
His whole life was about being in control, but he encouraged all those interviewed by Isaacson to be completely candid and pull no punches – and they did just that!
The result is a comprehensive and frank account of the life of the late wunderkind.
Jobs was a genius. He was also cruel, rude, obsessive and controlling. He hurt many people both personally and professionally.
In the pursuit of a goal, he let no one stand in his way and would not hesitate to run down, push aside or destroy anyone who got in this way.
So why would anyone want to read his biography?
Because he was a genius. His genius was expressed in many ways. One was his ability to marry technology and the humanities.
Jobs was obsessive about the quality and design of what his companies produced whether it was a computer or a digital motion picture. Just pick up any Apple product, even the simple iPod or iPhone, and you will be struck by the simplicity, beauty and functionality of its design.
His genius was also exhibited in his ability to take discrete items that others had created, put them together in new and creative ways, and create a niche for the product.
No one was clamoring for a portable hard drive that would hold thousands of songs when Apple produced the iPod, but it became a tremendous success that provided the basis for the iPhone and the iPad.
I must admit that I am a convert to Apple products. My first purchase was an iPod that I used occasionally to listen to music and podcasts when I walked.
Then I was given an iPad and I was thrilled by its capabilities. When I changed smart phones recently, I bought a low-end iPhone, and I must admit that my next laptop computer will probably be an Apple product. I have been seduced by the Dark Side!
Isaacson would certainly admit that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Steve Jobs walked that line precariously.
Would I have liked to have known or worked with Jobs? No. Will I use the products and processes that he conceived and blessed? Yes, because they are user-friendly, accessible and enhance my own creativity.
This biography of Steve Jobs reminds us that one person can make a tremendous contribution to culture, business and society even if he or she is not the nicest person in the room. And that makes me both laugh and cry.
Ircel Harrison is coaching coordinator for Pinnacle Leadership Associates and is supplemental associate professor of missional theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.