Becoming Steve Jobs

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Well, my long weekend in Milwaukee is over, and I’m heading home. I’ve never been to Wisconsin in my life. It’s nice to see a place that (a) actually has real weather (b) doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg for everything. Looking at the real estate ads, it’s just bizarre seeing places being sold for less than they even cost to build. Comparisons to Palo Alto become preposterous. One could buy up an entire neighborhood block of houses for what it costs to get a nice house in my ridiculous burgh.


About a week ago, I received a new book called Becoming Steve Jobs which – you guessed it! – is another biography about the man. I’m only halfway done with the book, and I’m not usually prone to writing up reviews with half-done books, but – – being on the road – – I’m hard-up for material, so I’ll just go ahead and say a few words about it.

Once I’m done, I’m pretty sure this will be the favorite book I’ve read about Jesus Jobs. Everyone went nuts over Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography, but it left me feeling flat. Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s book, however, is captivating. The first half of the book rushes full-speed through the 1975-1991 period, which has been beaten to death in other books. I was glad for this, because I could recite this history by heart. I learned a few new things, however, including the fact that John Sculley was even a more tremendous dork than I imagined (I worked at Apple during the Sculley era).

Business Insider wrote an enthusiastic review of the book, and they made this remark about its bona fides:

Their book relies heavily on Schlender’s relationship with Jobs, which started in April 1986 when he visited Jobs at his then new company, NeXT, for The Wall Street Journal. Over the decades to come, the two developed a friendship of sorts, though Schlender says it was always a professional relationship in which he saw Jobs as a source. (Jobs used to dish Schlender gossip about what was happening at Apple after Jobs was booted from the company.)

“Becoming Steve Jobs” got full participation, and tacit endorsement, from Apple. The authors had access to Jobs’ closest coworkers during the end of his time at Apple. CEO Tim Cook, SVP Eddy Cue, SVP Jony Ive, and former head of PR Katie Cotton spoke on the record for the book. There are interviews with other former Apple executives. They also spoke to Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.

The second half of the book does a deeper dive into the “second coming” of Jobs at Apple, as well as the absolutely crucial “time in the wilderness” that I chronicled at length in my own video series, Passion of the Jobs. The one and only time I met with him face to face (around 1996), he wasn’t nearly as deified as he is today. He is well worthy of the adulation, however, and I’m pleased to see an accurate and thorough biography finally available.