Becoming Steve Jobs book cover

Penned by the The Wall Street Journal and Fortune reporter Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, Executive Editor with Fast Company, ‘Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader’ is slated for release on March 24 and already whole sections have been posted online. Endorsed by Apple execs, it’s fairest portrayal of the famous inventor who co-founded and led Apple to become the world’s top corporation.

Unlike Walter Isaacson’s much maligned biography, Becoming Steve Jobs offers an insight into the side of Steve Jobs you didn’t know: kind, patient and human.

Leaked excerpts offer Tim Cook’s reflections on working for such a demanding boss, the secret projects they discussed doing and not doing, tidbits on Jobs’ thought process and the events leading up to Jobs’s passing on October 5, 2011, including the story of Cook offering to give Jobs his liver.

Here are some choice quotes.

Cook offers Jobs his liver

After finding that he shared a rare blood type with his boss, Cook was growing more and more susceptible to the thought of donating part of his liver to the ailing executive.

One afternoon, Cook left the house feeling so upset that he had his own blood tested. He found out that he, like Steve, had a rare blood type, and guessed that it might be the same. He started doing research, and learned that it is possible to transfer a portion of a living person’s liver to someone in need of a transplant.

About 6,000 living-donor transplants are performed every year in the United States, and the rate of success for both donor and recipient is high. The liver is a regenerative organ. The portion transplanted into the recipient will grow to a functional size, and the portion of the liver that the donor gives up will also grow back.

After doing numerous medical tests, Cook stopped by Jobs’s Palo Alto home to deliver the good news. But Jobs wouldn’t hear about it.

“He cut me off at the legs, almost before the words were out of my mouth,” said Cook. “‘No,’ he said. ‘I’ll never let you do that. I’ll never do that.’”

Noting that some people paint Jobs as a selfish person, Cook remembered the liver story and told the authors:

“Somebody that’s selfish doesn’t reply like that. I mean, here’s a guy, he’s dying, he’s very close to death because of his liver issue, and here’s someone healthy offering a way out. I said, ‘Steve, I’m perfectly healthy, I’ve been checked out. Here’s the medical report. I can do this and I’m not putting myself at risk, I’ll be fine.’

And he doesn’t think about it. It was not, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ It was not, ‘I’ll think about it.’ It was not, ‘Oh, the condition I’m in . . .’ It was, ‘No, I’m not doing that!’ He kind of popped up in bed and said that. And this was during a time when things were just terrible. Steve only yelled at me four or five times during the 13 years I knew him, and this was one of them.”

Apple will never make a TV again

Contrary to Walter Isaacson’s biography in which Steve Jobs is cited as saying “I’ve finally cracked the code” to the perfect television experience, saying “it will have the simplest interface you could imagine,” Becoming Steve Jobs offers quite different thoughts on the prospect of an Apple-branded television set.

Jony Ive, Apple’s design czar, recalls Steve telling him one day, “I just don’t like television. Apple will never make a TV again.”

Coldhearted decision making

Jony Ive’s introduction to Steve’s decision-making boiled down to the CEO killing both of his pet projects shortly following Steve’s return to Apple’s helm in 1996.

Steve killed off the eMate, axed the Newton PDA project (save a few key patents), and the 20th Anniversary Mac which bit the dust after selling just 12,000 units.

The products just didn’t fit into Steve’s quadrants. Removing the 20th Anniversary Macintosh, Ive’s “pride and joy at the time,” must have been particularly painful for the British designer.

It was a striking piece of out-of-the-box industrial design thinking. Jony and his team had placed the guts of a top-of-the-line laptop inside a svelte and slightly curved vertical slab, which had on the top half of its surface a color LCD monitor, and on the bottom half a vertical CD-ROM drive, all of which was framed by specially designed Bose stereo speakers. It was packed with state-of-the-art technology, including cable and FM tuners and the circuitry necessary for the computer to double as a TV set or radio.

I know, let’s buy Yahoo!

The book reveals that Steve and his executive team were actively thinking about purchasing Yahoo as a way of gaining instant credibility in the online services space and, more importantly, gaining backdoor access into the search market.

To help pull off a big move like this, Steve turned to his longtime friend and Disney CEO Bob Iger, who now has a seat on Apple’s Board of Directors.

Although Iger didn’t join the Apple board until after Jobs’s death in 2011, he paid him frequent visits in Cupertino. In fact, whenever he was in town, Iger was one of the few people on the planet granted access into Jony Ive’s top secret design lab.

“We would stand at a whiteboard brainstorming,” recalls Iger. “We talked about buying companies. We talked about buying Yahoo together.”

Kind and caring Steve

Steve’s genuine care for his peers exhibited itself in ways more than one.

Cook recounts how his boss gave his mom a buzz to ask her to persuade Cook, who was a very private man before recently coming out as gay, to have a more social life.

“The Steve I knew was the guy pestering me to have a social life, not because he was being a pest, but because he knew how important family was in his life, and he wanted it for me, too,” says Cook, who came out as a gay man late in 2014.

”One day he calls my mom — he doesn’t even know my mom, she lives in Alabama. He said he was looking for me, but he knows how to find me! He talked to her about me. There are lots of these things where you saw the very soft or caring or feeling or whatever you want to call it side of him. He had that gene. Someone who’s viewing life only as a transactional relationship with people…doesn’t do that.”

And this bit about caring for other people’s well-being:

“The Steve that I met in early ’98 was brash and confident and passionate and all of those things. But there was a soft side of him as well, and that soft side became a larger portion of him over the next 13 years. You’d see that show up in different ways.

There were different employees and spouses here that had health issues, and he would go out of his way to turn heaven and earth to make sure they had proper medical attention. He did that in a major way, not in a minor, ‘Call me and get back to me if you need my help’ kind of way.”

“Steve cared,” Cook said.

“He cared deeply about things. Yes, he was very passionate about things, and he wanted things to be perfect. And that was what was great about him. A lot of people mistook that passion for arrogance. He wasn’t a saint. I’m not saying that. None of us are. But it’s emphatically untrue that he wasn’t a great human being, and that is totally not understood.”

The why of the decisions

Cook says Steve was anything but an arrogant boss who wouldn’t articulate and explain key decisions to his lieutenants.

“Steve cared deeply about the why,” says Cook. “The why of the decision. In the younger days I would see him just do something. But as the days went on he would spend more time with me and with other people explaining why he thought or did something, or why he looked at something in a certain way.”

The why of the decisions Apple had made in its past, both good and bad ones, would eventually lead Steve to establish something called Apple University. It’s an internal program that teaches upcoming company leaders about Apple’s DNA and the Apple way of doing things.

“This was why he came up with Apple University, so we could train and educate the next generation of leaders by teaching them all we had been through, and how we had made the terrible decisions we made and also how we made the really good ones.”

Isaacson’s biography did Steve ‘a tremendous disservice’

Walter Isaacson may have gained unparalleled access to the late co-founder, which authorized his bio book, but that doesn’t mean other executives were happy that the famous Fortune writer and biographer mostly regurgitated old stories while simplifying and even skewing some of the more interesting aspects of Steve’s personality and mannerism.

“This picture of him isn’t understood,” says Cook. “I thought the Walter Isaacson book did him a tremendous disservice. It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality.

You get the feeling that Steve’s a greedy, selfish egomaniac. It didn’t capture the person. The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time. Life is too short.

Succession planning began in 2004.

Apple used to get blasted by analysts and investors on a regular basis over not having succession planning, which proved flat out wrong. Before stepping down as CEO to become Chairman two months before his passing, Steve strongly suggested that the Board of Directors execute “our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.”

But Steve may have been already preparing Apple for his departure way back in 2004, one year after a medical scan revealed a tumor in his pancreas and years before the iPhone and iPad would get impregnated into public consciousness.

Making Cook the new CEO

Two months before his passing, Jobs calls Cook to inform him he would be named the new CEO after Steve becomes the company’s Chairman.

On August 11 2011, a Sunday, Steve called Tim Cook and asked him to come over to the house. “He said, ‘I want to talk to you about something,’” remembers Cook. “This was when he was home all the time, and I asked when, and he said, ‘Now.’

So I came right over. He told me he had decided that I should be CEO. I thought then that he thought he was going to live a lot longer when he said this, because we got into a whole level of discussion about what would it mean for me to be CEO with him as a chairman. I asked him, ‘What do you really not want to do that you’re doing?’

“It was an interesting conversation,” Cook says, with a wistful laugh. “He says, ‘You make all the decisions.’ I go, ‘Wait. Let me ask you a question.’ I tried to pick something that would incite him. So I said, ‘You mean that if I review an ad and I like it, it should just run without your okay?’

And he laughed and said, ‘Well, I hope you’d at least ask me!’ I asked him two or three times, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ because I saw him getting better at that point in time. I went over there often during the week, and sometimes on the weekends. Every time I saw him he seemed to be getting better. He felt that way as well. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.”

Back then, Cook believed the best candidate should come from within the company, a notion that he says is even more relevant nowadays.

“If you believe that it’s important to understand Apple’s culture deeply, you wind up clicking to an internal candidate,” explains Cook. “If I were leaving this afternoon I’d recommend an inside candidate, because I don’t think there’s any way somebody could come in and understand the complexity of what we do and really get the culture in that deep way. And I think Steve knew that it also needed to be somebody that believed in the Beatles concept. [Jobs believed that the Fab Four brought out the best in one another—and moderated any individual’s excesses.] Apple would not be served well to have a CEO who wanted to or felt like they needed to replace him precisely. I don’t think there is such a person, but you could envision people trying. He knew that I would never be so dumb as to do that, or even feel that I needed to do that.”

On August 11, Apple announced Steve’s CEO resignation over health problems. The Apple co-founder would become the Chairman of the Board. But little did Cook know that Steve’s health would deteriorate soon after, resulting in his death just a few weeks later.

Final hours

Cook describes spending final hours with his friend and mentor.

Eight weeks after Steve told Cook he was making him CEO, things took a sudden turn for the worse. “I watched a movie with him the Friday before he passed away,” Cook remembers. “We watched Remember the Titans [a sentimental football story about an underdog].

I was so surprised he wanted to watch that movie. I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ Steve was not interested in sports at all. And we watched and we talked about a number of things and I left thinking that he was pretty happy. And then all of a sudden things went to hell that weekend.”

Apple is here for a bigger reason

Cook shared Jobs’ belief that Apple was and still is a magical place. In fact, that was “certainly part of the reason” Steve urged the Board of Directors to sign off on Cook as his successor.

“This was a significant common thread we had,” says Cook. “I really love Apple, and I do think Apple is here for a bigger reason. There are very few companies like that on the face of the earth anymore.”

“Steve wanted people to love Apple,” says Cook, “not just work for Apple, but really love Apple, and really understand at a very deep level what Apple was about, about the values of the company. He didn’t write them on the walls and make posters out of them anymore, but he wanted people to understand them. He wanted people to work for a greater cause.”

These tidbits were brought to you by Fast Company.

They’ve published sizable excerpts from the book and I’ve only included the best quotes here so hit the source link below for the complete story.

While Isaacson’s biography did Jobs “a great disservice,” the upcoming biopic by documentary maker Alex Gibney titled Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine has surely failed to win over Apple executives.

“The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time,” Cook said last week in response to the movie’s recent preview at SXSW.

Among other scenes in the documentary, one scene depicts Steve  dragging his ex-girlfriend through courts to try to avoid paying child support, with others going over Apple’s 2010 incident of the lost iPhone 4 prototype and other controversial topics.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, tweeted out last week that he was “very disappointed” by the documentary. It’s an “inaccurate and mean-spirited view of my friend,” he wrote, adding that “it’s not a reflection of the Steve I knew.”

That was a pretty unusual move, to put it mildly, for a company notorious for its secrecy and tight control of its corporate message and branding.

As for Becoming Steve Jobs, Cue called it the “best portrayal” of Apple’s co-founder. “Well done and first to get it right,” he said in another tweet.

Tim Cook, who recently “surprised” Jim Cramer on Mad Money, reiterated on the show that Steve’s office, located right next to his own in Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, continues to stand empty.

Steve’s name is still on the door.

You can pre-order a digital version of the book over at Apple’s iBooks Store for thirteen bucks or through Amazon’s Kindle Store for $15.

Source: Fast Company

  • Ian

    Great post !! I might buy th book now ! And is there a mistake at

    ‘Jony Ive, Apple’s design czar’