Movie review: Jobs


The Jobs movie, starring Ashton Kutcher, is a pretty neatly done movie. I have read the Isaccson official biography and sure, there are a few minor inaccuracies, but then that should be discounted for artistic freedom. Making a movie based on someone as incredible as Steve Jobs is not an easy one.

I personally think, it is a great package. It covers the overall personality of Jobs (atleast the personality that I could decipher from the official biography). Ashton does a fine job of portraying Jobs. I am a big fan of Steve Job and his presentation skills (as some of my blog readers would have observed by now) and have seen several of his keynote speeches, and some multiple times. And the personality, the little body language quirks, Ashton plays them beautifully. The slouch, the walk, the finger on the nose. I think he did his homework well.

I wish the movie could have been a wee bit longer, and covered some more of his NeXT years and his Pixar days (which are woefully not even in the story line). The movie was as fast paced as it needed to be and 15 mins more would not have gotten it bad rep.

Also, I think, the relationship of Jobs and Gates was a much more complex one, and was a bit trivialised by the one f-word-laden phone conversation that Jobs has with Gates. But, I guess, that is defenitely way out of scope out of the movie story line.

On the whole, a nice movie. Super acting by Ashton Kutcher.

The Meeting Rule

I follow a meeting rule which is borrowed from Steve Jobs rule book. I read this in the Walter Isacson biography.

I will attend a meeting if, by attending the meeting, one of two things happen — I gain something from the meeting, or the other folks in the meeting gain something from me.

I follow the same rule when calling for a meeting, and inviting folks to it.

As a corollary rule, I will always _NOT_ carry a laptop to a meeting, unless I am presenting, or if I have been explicitly asked to take notes. The reason is that, if I do take the laptop, I will be distracted and be tempted to work in parallel. This would break the first rule. I will neither contribute fully to the meeting, nor will I gain something in its entirety.

Following these two rules sometimes gets me very antsy when a meeting is poorly conducted. But that is beyond my realm of control. I try my very best to ensure that my meetings are efficient.

The CEO who did demos

Yeah, you know who I am talking about. Steve Jobs. I was reading the blog of Don Melton (who led the first Safari development team), where he describes the feeling of being in the audience of rehearsals of the ‘master presenter’.

Most of the time during those rehearsals, Ken and I had nothing to do except sit in the then empty audience and watch The Master Presenter at work — crafting his keynote. What a privilege to be a spectator during that process. At Apple, we were actually all students, not just spectators. When I see other companies clumsily announce products these days, I realize again how much the rest of the world lost now that Steve is gone.

And then there was also a link to the 2003 macworld keynote where Steve released Safari. I liked the way he demo’d Safari. It was typical Steve. Superlative adjectives. Practised fluency. But, what came next was what blew my mind. Steve also announces Keynote on the same presentation. My rough transcription:

The folks at apple created Keynote for me. I needed something that I can use to create these keynote presentations for you. Very graphic intensive. Powerful. Something that you want to use to create meaningful presentations. Now, <pause>, I want to share it with you. <applause>

This has been in the works for over a year now. For a year, we hired a very lowly paid beta tester, who tested it for a whole year. <screen shows Steve Job’s picture> <applause>. I have used Keynote for every keynote that I showed you in 2002.

I think that is just amazing. A CEO who not only demos, but also beta tested a product for a whole year. And not in his own private tasks, but for a very public demonstration. Amazing.


The Lost Steve Jobs Tapes

f Steve Jobs’s life were staged as an opera, it would be a tragedy in three acts. And the titles would go something like this: Act I–The Founding of Apple Computer and the Invention of the PC Industry; Act II–The Wilderness Years; and Act III–A Triumphant Return and Tragic Demise.

The first act would be a piquant comedy about the brashness of genius and the audacity of youth, abruptly turning ominous when our young hero is cast out of his own kingdom. The closing act would plumb the profound irony of a balding and domesticated high-tech rock star coming back to transform Apple far beyond even his own lofty expectations, only to fall mortally ill and then slowly, excruciatingly wither away, even as his original creation miraculously bulks up into the biggest digital dynamo of them all. Both acts are picaresque tales that end with a surge of deep pathos worthy of Shakespeare.

But that second act–The Wilderness Years–would be altogether different in tone and spirit. In fact, the soul of this act would undermine its title, a convenient phrase journalists and biographers use to describe his 1985 to 1996 hiatus from Apple, as if the only meaningful times in Jobs’s life were those spent in Cupertino. In fact, this middle period was the most pivotal of his life. And perhaps the happiest. He finally settled down, married, and had a family. He learned the value of patience and the ability to feign it when he lost it. Most important, his work with the two companies he led during that time, NeXT and Pixar, turned him into the kind of man, and leader, who would spur Apple to unimaginable heights upon his return.

A Must Read for anyone who is an Apple Fan, or for that matter, anyone who wants to understand the power of self-improvement. Beautiful.

Read the Brent Schlender‘s full article here.

Simplicity, and yet refined Sophistication

Watched a rare interview of Steve Jobs circa 1980 yesterday. That man was a genius. He knew what he wanted 30 years ago. And I believe he accomplished what he wanted. *RESPECT*

Some key points that just blew my mind away:

  • Man builds tools to amplify his abilities.
  • A computer is a tool to help you solve a problem. But we throw a big problem betwn you and your problem-learn how to use the computer. Our goal is to simplify that problem between you and your problem as much as possible”
  • For some crazy reason in the Universe (that I dont know about), two people in Los Altos and Cupertino had a need for a computer (and built), that a million other people want. Crazy that this fits the exact same need of all these people.
  • The name “Apple computers” represented what we wanted as a culture – simplicity and yet very refined sophistication”.
  • We should be talking about solutions, and not hardware or software. It is the solution that should just work – whatever it takes.
  • Comparison of Automobiles to Computers. Dump trucks, cars, buses – they have pretty much the same parts – transmissions, steering mechanisms, wheels, seats. They are all a means of transportation. What they differ on is emphasis on its function. Same way, we will build Apple computers with an emphasis that we will refine and define.
  • We have about 500 people. We will probably do between a 150 and 200 million dollars of sales. If you divide this by the number of employees, the sales $ per employee that you will get is probably a number that no one ever has heard of before. Thats because we have the most incredible collection of people on the planet.