Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs came out this week, and I along with most of the iBook + Kindle population started digesting the pages upon its digital release. There’s something to be said about a man’s work being so transcendent that a post-mortem book about his life can equal the fervor of his product launches.
I haven’t made it too far into the book yet, but the early parts of his life are fascinating. It was public knowledge that he was a hippie and buddhist, but I didn’t realize to what extent his beliefs held and how that affected his teenage years. Compared to the child prodigies of this generation, it’s refreshing to see someone great have a somewhat normal childhood and not skip eight grades to graduate college at 13.
I think it’s natural human tendency to identify early influences and use them to explain a person’s behavior later in life. Isaacson painstakingly went back to catalogue the people who spent time with Jobs, which does make for a lot of “ahhhh…” moments, but I’m not so sure if it’s as simple as Steve meeting someone with a strong personality and assimilating that into his own persona.
We all meet interesting people in life. Hell, the fact that so many people look up to Steve Jobs as a role model mean that they have someone to credit, if they ever become successful themselves. It’s romantic to cherry pick the people, places and circumstances that combine to make a successful individual, but I suspect the reality is a lot more nuanced and complicated.
It’s probably less interesting to read, too.