I can’t think of anyone throughout history who has done anything like this. I’m so glad this book was written. I’m so sad that he died.
Steve was not trained as an engineer. But he recognized talent and worked with engineers to create products that blended art and philosophy with technology. He would guide engineers saying I want this, I don’t want that. His first creation was the Apple computer created with Steve Wozniak (the engineer). Prior to that computers were used only by high-tech hobbyists. The Apple computer included a monitor and a keyboard and was meant for regular people, not just hobbyists. Later creations included using a “mouse” with computers, iMac, iPod, iTunes Store, iPhone, iPad, and the Apple retail stores. Steve was also a force behind the Pixar company which repeatedly created great animation movies starting with Toy Story.
Steve Jobs was not what I think of as a normal person. A repeating question I had was “is it nature or nurture” that makes people the way they are? Steve was so unusual that I kept wondering why. He lied to people - a lot. He was impatient and demanding. When calling someone, if they weren’t available, he kept calling and calling until he got through. He would have the phone operator interrupt to say it was an emergency - when it was just impatient Steve. He was uncaring, unkind, selfish, rude, and manipulative. His capacity for empathy was lacking. He had a narcissistic personality disorder. He felt ordinary rules didn’t apply to him, for example his parking in handicap parking spots.
He was often seething with anger and anxiety and would lash out, criticizing and insulting anyone and everything around him. Another side of Steve was being the eccentric genius artist. I thought of Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear in his madness. Yet I admire and am so grateful for the creations that Steve is responsible for. He had a big effect on my life which is listening to audiobooks on my iPod.
I think I attribute 95% of Steve to nature (not nurture). Psychologists may beat me up about this, but I can not believe that his parents’ nurturing created Steve’s genius and negative excesses. Steve was adopted. He was curious about his birth parents but he didn’t search for his birth mother until after his adoptive mother Clara died, because he thought it might hurt Clara’s feelings. That may have been the only time Steve was sensitive or caring about someone. If he was capable of love, I think he loved his adoptive parents and was close to them.
A few odd details about Steve’s life. He audited a number of college classes rather than being a regular registered student. He lived for six months or more in India. He valued gurus and Zen. He lived in a commune environment for a while and did a variety of drugs. He was known for his extreme vegan diets. He felt he didn’t need to shower due to his pure diet. But he did; he smelled; and Apple executives had to prod him into showering more than once weekly. He was frequently barefoot at work and at times would soak his feet in a toilet.
Regarding his cancer, I wondered if there was a coincidence or a connection to his diet. For most of Steve’s life he was on a vegan diet, meaning no dairy or meat. Although he did eat sushi at least once during the book. Vegans are at risk for not getting enough protein. So it was noticeable to me that Steve’s cancer started in his pancreas which has something to do with hormones related to protein processing. And after his surgery, his doctors urged him to increase his protein intake. Is it possible his diet was stressing his pancreas? I don’t know.
INTUITION MORE VALUABLE THAN MARKET RESEARCH:
Steve would sniff the air and then intuitively come up with products people would love and want. But if someone did market research asking people what they wanted, consumers would never have known or described what Steve came up with. This was Steve’s genius. And he consistently created products that wowed the world and changed the world. I was thinking of two examples about market research. One shows that consumers don’t know what they want, the other is the opposite. 1. In the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell he describes the Aeron chair, created by Herman Miller. It was designed for comfort. But during market research consumers said it was ugly. The company went ahead and manufactured the chair, and it became a best seller. This was an example of people not knowing what they wanted. The explanation was some things are weird and it takes time for us to understand that we actually like them. 2. Lee Iacocca was with Ford until 1978. While at Ford, market research was done - asking consumers what they wanted in a car. The idea of the minivan was the result. But Henry Ford II didn’t want to make it. Lee obtained permission from Ford to take the minivan market research with him when he went to Chrysler. Chrysler then made the first minivan which was hugely successful. In that case, consumers did know what they wanted which influenced the creation of a product.
Another example of Steve’s intuition was the Apple retail store. The Apple board was against it, saying Gateway computers tried it and only had a low number of customers per week. But the board allowed Steve to open a few stores on a test basis. Steve was involved with every detail from the stone floor which came from Italy to the glass stairs and the size of the glass windows. His stores were amazingly successful, getting huge numbers of customers. There was no comparison to the Gateway stores. It was a different universe. Personally, I love the feeling I get when I walk into an Apple store.
Steve lied so much, so frequently, and to so many people. Many people around him described this as Steve’s “reality distortion field.” Gee I thought, if you’re the wealthy boss they call it “reality distortion,” but if you’re a normal guy they’d say “you lying jerk.” The FBI investigated Steve for some project or other, and in their files too, they called it “reality distortion.” An example: Steve asked a guy how many things had been sold. The guy said six. In the next minute Steve announced to a group that only three had been sold.
STEVE BELIEVED MOST PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO STEAL:
I’m always interested in a good argument to convince others to be honest or not to steal. I can’t use Steve as a model for honesty, but he did have something good to say about not stealing. For years consumers were downloading music illegally. Music companies would not sell individual songs but insisted on selling groups of songs (cds/albums). Steve had to talk them into letting him sell individual songs for 99 cents. He eventually succeeded. Steve commented “It’s wrong to steal. It hurts other people, and it hurts your own character. The only way to stop piracy was to offer an alternative that was more attractive than the services that the brain dead music companies were concocting. We believe that 80% of the people stealing stuff don’t want to be. There’s just no legal alternative. Let’s create a legal alternative to this. Everybody wins...and the user wins because he gets a better service and doesn’t have to be a thief.” So Jobs set out to create the iTunes store. With iTunes Steve said “It’s not stealing anymore. It’s good karma.”
SUBJECTS NOT COVERED:
There are other stories that could be written about the industries and people Steve affected. For example, engineers suffering burnout after working for Steve. This book does not go into other stories like that. Although I would be interested in reading more in other books.
NARRATOR: The narrator Dylan Baker was excellent.
It’s a good motivator for women having friendships with women. Four women have a life-long friendship starting before high school. They drank a lot and did ornery things. The most unsettling thing for me was when they went swimming in the town’s water supply tank - that tub high up above houses that provides drinking water.
I’m not complaining, but slightly odd were all the naked scenes. The Ya-Yas take a bath together, swim. A naked mother beats her naked kids. A few scenes had Sidda walking around naked. The Ya-Ya girls would sleep together with arms and legs intertwined. This was not sexual. It was just wonderfully close loving friendship.
The main story is Vivi, one of the Ya-Ya women. Her adult daughter is Sidda. Sidda postpones her wedding to Connor because she fears she does not know how to love. She asks Vivi to send her the Ya-Ya scrapbook. Sidda wants to better understand her mother and their relationship. When Sidda was a child, Vivi beat Sidda with a belt leaving scars. Most of the book is Sidda thinking about events in the scrapbook and talking to the four women. Parts of the book are the Ya-Ya women thinking about events in the past. By the end of the book the reader has a full understanding of Vivi’s life, her troubles, her sadnesses.
My favorite part - a small part: Lizzie was not part of the Ya-Ya group. Her husband died, forcing her to support her two young sons. She starts a job selling cheap beauty products door-to-door, and she’s not good at it. She does not wear her own makeup well. Vivi demonstrates immense kindness by taking Lizzie under her wing. Vivi teaches Lizzie how to look, talk, and sell. Vivi also telephones women convincing them to buy beauty products from Lizzie. Lizzie blossoms and becomes successful. That was neat.
Although Vivi did a couple of nice things for others, I did not like her enough to enjoy her story. She’s always drinking, calling everyone darlin’. She didn’t accomplished things. I’m not asking for great achievement. A hobby would be fine - something she applies herself to, that she cares about. After her kids are grown I’m not aware of her doing anything with her time - other than drinking and socializing. It’s as if her life is blowing in the wind, responding to being blown around by others. Her husband did not give her money. She had to be tricky and sneaky to get cash to do things. I prefer stories where someone changes or causes change - or uses willpower to do something. I guess the main idea here is when someone is down, the sisters rally around and socialize to make them feel better.
I recently listened to a different book narrated by someone with a southern accent. It was charming and delightful to hear. I did not like Judith Ivey doing this book. I don’t know if it was her southern accent or her voice. It sounded harsh. It needed something softer. When she read dialogue from a woman with emphysema, she took a lot of long noisy breaths - also unpleasant. In a film that might be good, but I don’t want that kind of acting for an audiobook. I am guessing that those breaths were not written in the text.
Genre: women’s fiction, sisterhood
My mind wandered at times.
I like his quirky mind. Woody Allen was ok as narrator of the audiobook.
Genre: humorous thoughts
It has a guy Brad who is my hero. It reads like a John Grisham novel, but it’s a true story about stock exchanges, high frequency traders, and dark pools. The author is great at explaining complicated technical subjects and telling a good story around them. In the middle of the book I was so angry at the rip-off of investors, I was thinking of writing letters. But by the end of the book, I didn’t have to. Some good things happened. And now, various government agencies are investigating the problems described in the book - SEC, FBI, CFTC, FINRA, NY attorney general, and US attorney general.
The audiobook narrator Dylan Baker was excellent.
Genre: financial nonfiction
I love some of the things Archie does and the way he and Nero think. If you’re new to this series, I suggest reading Fer-De-Lance and Some Buried Caesar before reading this - only because I think they are better. They are all stand alones.
Two female immigrants come to New York and teach fencing. One is accused of stealing from a customer. Two men end up dead.
The audiobook narrator Michael Prichard was good.
Genre: PI mystery
This is book 6 in the series. It wasn’t as good as the first book (Fer-De-Lance), but it was still very good.
The audiobook narrator Michael Prichard was good.
Genre: PI mystery
Unexpected things happen.
The author’s mind is quirky - like he comes from another place. I’m frequently chuckling and smiling over the dialogue or what somebody does. So many authors sound alike when it comes to mysteries. Rex Stout is different. I would read more mysteries if they were like this.
The author began writing the Nero Wolfe series in 1934. Nero Wolfe is an extremely obese man who doesn’t like to leave his home. He is an eccentric genius. Archie Goodwin works for him and does the investigating, errands, and running around.
This is the first book in the series. They can be read as stand alones.
The audiobook narrator Michael Prichard was good.
Genre: PI mystery
But I did not like some of his jumping around with interrupting stories.
1. A woman was into drugs, alcohol, overweight, and couldn’t keep a job. After her husband left her, she decided to make one change - quit smoking. She had a purpose for quitting - to go on a desert tour. That one change started a series of changes, which resulted in exercising, losing weight, and keeping a job. Of special note were the scans of her brain. There is a section of the brain (I’ll call Area C) that is active when we crave food, drink, etc. The front of the brain (behind the forehead, I’ll call Area B) was not active for her - until she quit smoking. Area B can overpower cravings and become willpower. Area B became active when she quit smoking, as if it had been awakened, and then it started limiting other cravings as well. She began eating less and exercising more. It reminded me of something I heard about teenagers. Area B is not fully developed until the mid twenties, so teenagers take more risks prior to that time.
2. Willpower is like a muscle. If you exercise, it becomes stronger. Kids who practice piano or participate in sports build willpower with daily practice and workouts. This leads to becoming better students. Going to a gym on a regular basis also builds willpower - making yourself do the workouts. Willpower is similar to muscles in another way. After using a bunch of it, you need to rest. This was demonstrated in a test with cookies. People who used their willpower to avoid eating cookies did not do as well in the second test that also required willpower.
3. There is a good example in the last chapter showing how to analyze a habit in order to change it. It’s about a guy who ate a cookie every afternoon.
4. The story of how things changed at the Alcoa company was fascinating.
The rest of the book has many examples and stories. Several reviewers complained that the first part was good, but the rest was filler. I could see that, but I didn’t mind because most of the “filler” stories were interesting. Some I’ve heard before, but they are good stories and worth hearing a second time.
My main complaint was JUMPING AROUND AND INTERRUPTING STORIES! For example: the author was talking about the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. I was wondering how long the boycott lasted, when the author stopped and told the story of a church. After that he went back to finish the boycott story. This happened several times. I was annoyed and impatient. When you’re telling a story, finish it, and then go to the next.
Mike Chamberlain was good.
Genre: psychology nonfiction
This is a short piece, 1 ½ hours. I’ve heard these things before, but it’s fun to hear Dave’s take. Example: a baby’s purpose in life is filling diapers and putting disgusting things in his mouth.
Audiobook narrator Arte Johnson was good.
Genre: humorous essays
I listened to more than half and then stopped. It’s solving a mystery. Hap and Leonard are best friends. Leonard inherits a house from his estranged Uncle Chester. He asks Hap to live there with him and help him fix things. They discover a dead body. They believe the uncle left clues for Leonard about the murder. But the uncle had Alzheimer’s disease so his mind was not clear. So the clues were not logical. For example one clue has something to do with books, so they figure out that they need to talk to a guy who drives a book mobile. I lost interest after that.
The set-up may interest some. Leonard is black and gay. Hap is white and straight. Hap has a sexual relationship with Leonard’s black female attorney. She doesn’t want to date Hap publicly because he is white, but she’s happy to be in a private sexual relationship. Hap previously spent time in jail for refusing the draft during the Vietnam war.
The audiobook narrator Phil Gigante was good.
I laughed a lot. Humorous essays on a variety of topics. Most of them were funny. But a few less so. The weakest ones for me were the one about writing a screenplay and Dave’s retelling of “Twilight” the famous teenage vampire story. It was funny at first, but he could have stopped after the first third or so. It became repetitive.
The author did a great job of narrating the audiobook. Good timing with pauses. I didn’t have to keep stopping the tape the way I did with Woody Allen.
Genre: humorous essays
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