Growth, Love, and Beauty: the Self-Made Soul of Apple

Steve Jobs famously said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” *Becoming Steve Jobs*, by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, does a wonderful job of connecting the dots of Steve Jobs’ passionate life.


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With new first-hand accounts and insights into Jobs’ personal and professional growth, *Becoming Steve Jobs* offers a glimpse into the tremendous work it took for an “inconsiderate“ and “rash” young visionary to develop himself into a caring and deliberate leader who so deeply valued -- and inspired in others -- one thing above all else: a love of and dedication to creating the beautiful in work, in life.


In *Becoming Steve Jobs*, we see Jobs develop. At times, we encounter him at his worst: an emotionally erratic young man sitting in a parking lot, literally crying in shame after losing control of himself in a meeting; an arrogant 20-something who thinks “he could probably do anybody’s job better than they could” (Schlender & Tetzeli); a pained adult having to finally end production on his beloved NeXT computers. We see his beginnings, and his faults. But we also see the steps he takes to grow, to overcome weaknesses and learn from mistakes. For instance, we see him genuinely apologizing for inappropriate outbursts. We hear from colleagues such as John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer at Pixar, that he could inspire those around him “to do amazing things he knew he couldn’t do himself.” And of course we see his incredible comeback to Apple (after it purchases NeXT) and the fantastic computers he creates while there. Time and again, we see Steve Jobs neither as a lucky boy in the right place at the right time nor as a fully formed tech messiah with God-given talents. Instead, we see the growth of a self-made soul, a man who worked -- and worked and worked -- every step of the way to become a visionary leader.


From the words of those who knew Steve Jobs best, we learn that he was a man who profoundly loved his work:

“Steve loved ideas and loved making stuff, and he treated the process of creativity with a rare and wonderful reverence.” --Jony Ive, Apple’s VP of Design and one of Jobs’ closest friends

“He loved this company.” --Ed Catmull, President of Pixar

“He loved it. He was like a kid.” --Lasseter on how Steve would excitingly show Pixar movies to all his neighbors

“No one else I ever covered was so passionate about the creations of his business.” --Schlender & Tetzeli

And by so loving his work, Steve inspired those around him to do the same. As Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook says, “Steve cared. He cared deeply about things. Yes, he was passionate about things, and he wanted things to be perfect. And that was what was great about him. He wanted everyone to do their best work.”


Steve Jobs found beauty in “the marriage” of technology with humanities, and he accomplished that union in a world-changing way. It was his uniquely integrated technical and aesthetic vision that was at the core of the personal computer revolution, making possible the movement from million-dollar, bulky mainframes that could barely fit in an office, to inexpensive, beautiful smartphones that glide easily into our pockets. Jobs had an all-encompassing “love of beauty,” says his wife Laurene, and ultimately it was this love of the beautiful, his (self-proclaimed) joy in “making wonderful things” that drove him.

Overall, *Becoming Steve Jobs* is an engaging biography of Jobs’ life that neither sugarcoats his shortcomings nor belittles his brilliance (as sycophants and cynics have no doubt attempted elsewhere). Rather, it confirms in a well-researched and well-told story what those closest to Jobs have said for years: that despite his weaknesses -- many of which he grew to overcome -- Steve was a great man, whose joyous success in the real world is, as Jony Ive so powerfully stated in a funeral tribute to his friend, “a victory for beauty, for purity, and, as [Steve] would say, for giving a damn.”

Jesse McCarthy is the founder of jemslife, an educational resource offering personalized teacher and parent coaching.


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