“Make the best of your strengths, because we are all mostly flawed” – My Takeaway from Steve Jobs biography

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I got a chance to download Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs on my iPad iBook, the day it was available. Turns out it was better that I took the digital route than the physical copy - the size (and 600 pages) would have made it impossible to think I could finish it. The book (as many have mentioned) is an absolute page-turner. The words “flawed genius” came to mind several times, so I googled it later, to find others like Steve – and mighty names appeared from Winston Churchill to Diego Maradona.I usually look for the one takeaway that I can apply immediately from every book I read. That sometimes makes me miss the “bigger picture” but the thing I look for is to pick up a good new habit. The amazing part of Jobs was he was deeply flawed as an individual. I am not necessarily going to mention what’s been said before but Jobs consistently focused on his strengths ignoring all else.

I realized that one of his biggest strengths was his ability to constantly say no. As he has been quoted before, he was as proud of the things he did not do as much as the things he did. The word focus comes up about 43 times (I gave up counting after Chapter 33 on Pixar friends and foes).

Another of his strengths, (though rarely mentioned) was his sense of humor. Case in point, page 320 – Larry Ellison (of Oracle) was recruited to the Apple board when Jobs returned.

When Ellison said he’d do it, but he hated attending meetings, Jobs took a photo from Business Week and had it blown up life size and pasted on a cardboard cutout to put on his chair.

The third strength I understood was his ability to be relentless. He would call, phone and email people at all times of the day, obsessing on getting it “perfect”. Case in point, page 288, when he watched Pixar so many times, and made his friends watch it too, that it became torture. Or in page 199, when he consistently went to Sculley’s office to convince him he could run the Mac division, even after he had pretty much run it to the ground. Or page 351, when he kept asking Ken Segall of TWBA to come up with a name for the new Macintosh after rejecting over 15. Or the innumerable number of times he went over the climactic moments of his new product unveiling.

There are many more strengths that Steve Jobs possessed that I feel you could write another book about the book that was written already. More like a Cliff Notes version, but I suspect it will be as big as the biography.

Personally though, the focus (and ability to say no) is the one I am picking up. There are way too many great opportunities and excellent ideas. Better to do one of them excellently than many with mediocre outcomes.

About the Author

Mukund Mohan is the CEO of Jivity, a leading social commerce company. He founded and sold BuzzGain, a leader in Do It Yourself PR, to Meltwater in January 2010. He has founded and successfully sold 3 Silicon Valley startups in the Internet & Enterprise software markets.Mukund has held executive and management roles in Hewlett Packard (Mercury), Inovis, Ariba and Cisco Systems. He studied at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County pursuing a Master's degree in Computer Science and holds a Bachelor's degree in engineering and computer science from the University of Mysore in India. He writes about startups, entrepreneurship and building high performance growth companies at http://www.bestengagingcommunities.com

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