Book Review: ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ by Brent Schlender &Rick Tetzeli

Becoming Steve Jobs

This 412-page tome seeks to do what other books about Steve Jobs’ life have supposedly failed to do: portray the “genius” and (yet) humane side of Steve, on top of being honest about the “a$$h@le” side of the man who has been credited for bringing about the stunning success of Apple, the guy who called the computer “the bicycle for the mind”, and who wanted to make a “dent in the universe” with his creations. 🙂

This book starts off with narrating from Steve’s perspective, which is weird since Steve wasn’t the one who wrote the book, and the authors couldn’t have known what exactly it was that Steve noticed, felt or remembered. Later on in the book, the author(s) get into the (correct) groove and made this book an enjoyable read. Having said that, I think having two authors can be rather tricky, with the same quotes repeated in different parts of the book, and a sometimes contrasting view about their subject, Steve.

There are certain things that I found pretty interesting, such as how Steve supposedly terrorized journalists, experimented with drugs, was a fan of meditation, and how he abhorred footwear. I also got to learn about how he was a fruitarian before he was a vegetarian (and a vegan sometimes). So how in the world did he get cancer if his diet was such a ‘healthy’ one? That’s anybody’s guess.

But here are 14 things I learnt from reading this book titled ‘Becoming Steve Jobs: How a Reckless Upstart Became a Visionary Leader’…

  1. Steve was forward-looking: “What’s the point in looking back, I’d rather look forward to all the good things to come.”
  2. He was kinda like me: “He had a vague desire to support good causes, but he hated the inefficiency of most charities.”
  3. He relied on his instinct: “Steve was innately comfortable trusting his gut; it’s a characteristic of the best entrepreneurs, a necessity for anyone who wants to make a living developing things no one has ever quite imagined before.”
  4. He kept an eye out for opportunities and would seize them when they presented themselves.
  5. He was able to make complex concepts simpler for people to understand.
  6. He had courted John Sculley, then president of PepsiCo, to join Apple with this famous line: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”
  7. Steve had the signatures of the 46 key team members engraved on the insides of every Mac.
  8. He aimed for perfection. He “paired a child’s curiosity with an obsessive attention to detail.”
  9. His black mock turtlenecks were custom-made by Issey Miyake.
  10. His once-brash character mellowed over time; he learnt to act less impulsively and became more patient.
  11. He was a brilliant negotiator.
  12. He knew his company had to keep outdoing itself with “frequent, market-churning, incremental improvements.”
  13. He understood what customer service really meant: “Steve understood that every interaction a customer had with Apple could increase or decrease his or her respect for the company”
  14. He knew how to prioritize ruthlessly.


I highly recommend you get a copy of this book if you are interested in reading about Steve Jobs from a journalist-friend’s perspective 🙂