The troubled relationship between Steve Jobs and his daughter Lisa has been recounted before. Next month, though, Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir ‘Small Fry’ will be released. The book is a first-person account of her childhood and the period leading up to Steve Jobs’ death in 2011. The Vanity Fair excerpt includes anecdotes of visits by Steve Jobs to Brennan-Jobs when she was a child:
We skated the neighborhood streets. Trees overhead made patterns of the light. Fuchsia dangled from bushes in yards, stamens below a bell of petals, like women in ball gowns with purple shoes. My father and mother had the same skates, a beige nubuck body with red laces crisscrossed over a double line of metal fasts. As we passed bushes in other people’s yards, he pulled clumps of leaves off the stems, then dropped the fragments as we skated, making a line of ripped leaves behind us on the pavement like Hansel and Gretel. A few times, I felt his eyes on me; when I looked up, he looked away.
Later Brennan-Jobs sums up her relationship with her father:
I see now that we were at cross-purposes. For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself. My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: the closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light.
The entire excerpt is well worth reading because it provides a perspective on Jobs and his relationships with family that isn’t discussed often.
Steve Jobs didn’t grant many interviews after his return to Apple in 1997. However, he did make several appearances at the D: All Things Digital conference from 2003 to 2010 that was hosted by Wall Street Journal reporters Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. On the fifth anniversary of Jobs’ death, Recode, which was co-founded by Mossberg and Swisher, has complied a selection of the most memorable moments from those interviews into a short video.
The full interviews are available as a podcast in iTunes.
Steven Levy, writing at BackChannel on the upcoming Becoming Steve Jobs:
Though I have even less reason than Schlender to claim that ours was anything but a professional relationship, I believe I did get to see Steve as the man in full described in Becoming Steve Jobs. Though as with Schlender, Jobs and I had differences due to the diverging agendas of reporter and subject, we saw eye to eye on many things, including the amazing transformation that technology had on society, the importance of clear, simple design, and the greatness of Bob Dylan. And I am very thankful that, unlike Schlender (whose baffling refusal to see Jobs one last time seems to be tied to unique circumstances regarding not just journalism, but the writer’s health issues), I was able to properly say goodbye to Jobs in the last year of his life. Taking all this into account, I believe that Schlender and Tetzeli have indeed captured elements of Steve Jobs not found in the official biography.
A new book about Steve Jobs, authored by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli will arive later this month on March 24th. Titled ‘Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader’, the book promises to answer the question of how the exiled Steve Jobs managed to return to Apple and ‘become the most effective visionary business leader of our time’.
Drawing on incredible and sometimes exclusive access, Schlender and Tetzeli tell a different story of a real human being who wrestled with his failings and learned to maximize his strengths over time. Their rich, compelling narrative is filled with stories never told before from the people who knew Jobs best, and who decided to open up to the authors, including his family, former inner circle executives, and top people at Apple, Pixar and Disney, most notably Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Robert Iger and many others. In addition, Brent knew Jobs personally for 25 years and draws upon his many interviews with him, on and off the record, in writing the book. He and Rick humanize the man and explain, rather than simply describe, his behavior. Along the way, the book provides rich context about the technology revolution we all have lived through, and the ways in which Jobs changed our world.
Speaking with Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, Ive detailed his creative process and work ethic.
It’s rare to see Apple’s Jony Ive on stage, so don’t miss the following video on the lessons he learned from Steve Jobs.
Let me be clear. Steve was not some mercurial ogre or cartoon autocrat. He was just very, very busy. He didn’t have time for “yes men,” the easily frightened, or those who didn’t know what the fuck they were doing or talking about.
In that way, he wasn’t different from any other executive. At least those with good sense.
Steve expected excellence. Which is why he so often got it.
Fantastic collection of stories about Steve Jobs and working at Apple by Don Melton (an extended, unified version of what first appeared on The Loop Magazine).
If you read one thing today, make it this one.
Nick Wingfield for the New York Times:
On a recent night at an elegant Beaux-Arts ballroom in San Francisco’s financial district, Laurene Powell Jobs received a computer with an unusually rich history. Around 1980, Ms. Powell Jobs’s husband, Steven P. Jobs, donated the computer to a nonprofit organization, the Seva Foundation, to help the group manage data from its efforts to restore sight in the developing world.
The nonprofit was now giving the computer — an Apple II that spent the last 33 years in Katmandu, Nepal, most of it packed away in a hospital basement there — back to Ms. Powell Jobs and her children from her marriage to Mr. Jobs.
There was less they could do to make sure the phone calls Jobs planned to make from the stage went through. Grignon and his team could only ensure a good signal, and then pray. They had AT&T, the iPhone’s wireless carrier, bring in a portable cell tower, so they knew reception would be strong. Then, with Jobs’s approval, they preprogrammed the phone’s display to always show five bars of signal strength regardless of its true strength. The chances of the radio’s crashing during the few minutes that Jobs would use it to make a call were small, but the chances of its crashing at some point during the 90-minute presentation were high. “If the radio crashed and restarted, as we suspected it might, we didn’t want people in the audience to see that,” Grignon says. “So we just hard-coded it to always show five bars.”
There are many good stories about the creation of the iPhone, but Fred Vogelstein’s article for The New York Times is something else. Vogelstein, who is working on a book to be released in November, talked to various former Apple engineers such as Andy Grignon and Tony Fadell and assembled a fantastic collection of anecdotes, memories, and details of Steve Jobs’ legendary iPhone keynote at Macworld 2007.
If you read one thing today, make it this one. Personally, I found it more entertaining (and possibly accurate) than several sections of Walter Isaacson’s book. Make sure to read what happened to Forstall’s chief of staff.
Philip Michaels reviews “Jobs” (opening in US theaters today):
But the script abandons these elements almost as soon as they appear, and the movie makers’ focus returns to marking off spaces on the Steve Jobs biography bingo card. Jobs sitting enraptured during a class about fonts? Check. Jobs tricking Woz out of his share of a bonus for developing Atari’s Breakout? Check. Jobs showing off the “1984” Macintosh commercial in its entirety? Check and mate. “This is like a video Wikipedia entry,” my colleague Armando Rodriguez told me after we finished screening the movie. That’s a harsh but not entirely inaccurate critique.
This is a common critique I’ve read in other reviews of Jobs as well. It would have been great to have something more than a documentary of Steve’s life and mannerisms starring Kutcher. I’ll still watch the movie, but I’m hoping Sorkin’s take will be something different and deeper.