Five Bullet Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Book)

The Five Bullet Review is a condensed review format in as it states, five bullets

  • Bullet #1 — The good
  • Bullet #2 — The bad 
  • Bullet #3 — The ugly 
  • Bullet #4 — The surprising
  • Bullet #5 — Recommendation

I would definitely categorize myself as an “Apple Fan Boy”.  When I was in middle school (circa 1989-1990) I found a dial-in bulletin board system (BBS) that hosted an online stock portfolio game where folks would be given pretend $100,000 to invest in stocks.  Well, I put all my pretend $100,000 in Apple at the time because I was just caught up in Steve Jobs and that intersection of technology and the arts. It inspired me to focus on computer science and drove my passion to build great products throughout my career. I’m sure I failed the “balanced portfolio” aspect of the game but I think I would have won the long term return on investment game.  Apple stock was priced around $0.30 in 1990. My $100,000 investment in Apple in 1989 would be worth roughly $55 million today.  Not bad.

Steve Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011. I remember where I was that day — at my desk running an engineering team for a mobile game studio in San Francisco building some of the first mobile games on the Apple iPhone. I even remember writing a brief blog post when it happened.

Cover of Apple.com on October 6, 2011

Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs came out soon after on October 24, 2011. The movie based on Walter Isaacson’s book screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin and staring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Seth Daniels came out in October 2015.  All right on top of each other.

I recently had an opportunity re-read the book and re-watch the movie. 

This review will be about the book, the movie and Steve. 

  • The good — the book is very well written and very detailed.  It’s a very long but reads very fast.  Steve’s personality is so complex. He followed his heart and worked his ass off.  His perseverance through adversity is amazing to witness.   The setbacks are part of our journey and I think we’re all too easy to give up when it gets hard. 
  • The bad  — the movie was entertaining but felt forced in some places.  It’s hard to believe the entire movie happened at three product launch events.   The book was much better. 
  • The ugly  — its interesting to think what would have happened if Steve Jobs didn’t die.  I bet there would have been many more years of innovation left in him. 
  • The surprising  — Steve Jobs is no Jesus.  His personality had its imperfections and those imperfections likely helped drive him towards the success he became.  Also, it’s amazing to me how detailed Steve got into the development of new products.  His name is on over 458 patents.    
  • Recommendation — If you are even a little bit an Apple fan or enjoy a story of the persistence, you will enjoy this book.  I highly recommend it.    

Bonus: If you have a moment, rewatch Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl advertisement, Apple’s Think Different advertisement and his commencement speech at Stanford University.  Very enjoyable.  I re-watched his commencement speech with my daughter.    

Leave a comment.  Thank you for reading! 

-rjm

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