STEVE JOBS: THE EXCLUSIVE BIOGRAPHY
“It’s your book” said Steve Jobs when he chose Walter Isaacson to write this definitive biography, “I won’t even read it.” Here was a man, notorious for his need to control, apparently giving a stranger unfettered permission to expose his disturbed background and turbulent career. Jobs did, with some initial reluctance, live up to that promise by encouraging even his harshest critics – past colleagues that he had fired, abused or abandoned – to be interviewed by Isaacson.
The result is an extraordinarily rich and textured account of a very complex and unpredictable character. On the one hand he could exemplify the serenity of his Buddhist beliefs – a quality evident in the techno-Zen minimalism of his creations and preferred lifestyle. On the other hand his colleagues could see him as a swearing, vindictive Rasputin figure who stole others’ ideas, told lies and could treat family and lovers appallingly.
His public image was a lot less complicated: he was known as a God-like figure that created the most innovative computer company in the 1970s and raised it from the dead twenty years later. He was a techno-guru before adoring disciples. We read that, when the iPhone was first released, Jobs visited his local Apple store and was hailed “as if Moses had walked in to buy a Bible”. On the launch of the iPad it was said: “The last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it.”
It is indeed good for humanity to have the example and inspiration of idols and saviours. But it is also vital to understand the bigger picture, one that reveals the human beneath the myth as this book does so successfully. If the Great and the Good were truly God-like, then what hope could there be for the rest of us ordinary mortals? This book is not a hagiography, but rather a realistic exploration of the contradictions that can deliver greatness, provided that they are not denied.
Jobs claimed to be above the allure of greedy materialism, and yet he created gadgets that inspired the whole world with the lust to possess them. He embraced a creed of silent mindful awareness, and yet he destroyed that inner peace with a smart phone connecting us into the whole chaos of existence. But can there be any value in transcending materialism if you have never experienced the lust to possess? What is the value of achieving one-ness if you have never lived multiplicity? If someone who begins his life in revolt against capitalism ends up as CEO of the world’s richest company, does that make him a hypocrite or a boundary-shattering genius? We need books like this to help answer such questions.
We also learn that Jobs’ final wish was for everyone at his funeral to be given a copy of The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda – a book that he adored and re-read every year. How much of the man’s deeper nature can be found by reading this book, and why did he think it was so important for the next generation of business leaders to read it?
The Business Innovation Leaders Forum interviewed Nalanie Harilela Chellaram and Shaman Chellaram – two members of the famous Harilela business family that are also known for their experience bridging modern business and spiritual insights. The interview asks why this autobiography was so influential and what it meant for Jobs. This podcast will be released though the Business Innovation Leaders Forum this January.
And for this Book of the Month we are also offering the option to include The Autobiography of a Yogi as a bonus for those wanting to dig deeper into the mind of Steve Jobs.