Steve Jobs


In the interest of improving my knowledge on matters beyond fiction novels and reality TV, I have decided to indulge in the reading of some non-fiction books. To begin with, I decided to try a Biography and picked up a copy of Steve Job’s Biography by Walter Isaacson. At first, I found it difficult to read as it was big change from the easy flowing storylines of most novels I am used to. However, I kept plodding through the difficult parts and eventually, I was riveted and I literally could not put it down. Steve Job’s life was very interesting with dramatic highs and lows. He was a vibrant man with an intense dedication to his companies and the products he developed in conjunction with the fortunate or unfortunate people who worked with him.  I typically do not like blogging using the ‘Listing Points’ format but in this case, I prefer to draw up a list as a summary of the key lessons I learned  and highlight areas where I disagreed with his values.

  • It is important to be passionate and enjoy the work you do.

Jobs was extremely passionate about the work he did and always sought to improve whatever he was working on. It was interesting to read how he began a hobby of working with gadgets as a young boy in high school. His passion was evident from the beginning and he developed his passion and skills and formed friendships with like-minded people. I don’t think making a business out of the products he and his friends developed was a negative thing. He was using his skills to make a living and to become financially independent. As a lesson for the world and particularly Africa, we really need to develop the technical skills of our people. It is not enough to teach children the theory behind technology, it is important to help them develop their skills practically. Jobs was building computers in high school! He even pointed the issue to President Obama when he said that the U.S had limited engineers with practical hands-on hardware skills and therefore, technology firms resulted to using Chinese labour. (cheaper labour issues aside).

  • Pick yourself up when you are knocked down

I find it astonishing that anyone could get kicked out a company that they founded but Jobs was one of the distinguished members of this infamous club. Granted, he was kicked out while still holding a substantial stake in the company, but he could not work there as an employee on the products he loved so much. In the book, it seems he had a brief period where he allowed himself to feel sadness and be down in the dumps but, he managed to pick himself up, dust himself off and begin working on new ventures and projects. He quickly found other areas of interest to himself and moved on with his typical passionate energy. Following his exit from Apple, he started a new company called NEXT and he also bought into Pixar which was a struggling animation technology company at the time. Through NEXT, he developed an operating system that was actually used in later years at Apple. At Pixar, Jobs found another group of passionate and creative people who he really believed in. He kept pumping money into the company as it was making losses until it finally succeeded beyond even what he had envisioned. In fact, I don’t think Jobs himself predicted the success of Pixar in the animation film industry because he had bought into what he thought would be the success of an operating system to be used by graphic designers and animation. Without his investment into Pixar, the world would not have the movies Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc, among other fabulously delightful films.

  • Style is not necessarily separate from substance

The artistic angle to everything he did was probably what made Jobs’ products unique and exceptional. In the technology industry, his passion for art and style particularly as a leader, was second to none. Many of the technological firms prefer to hold function with higher regard than style. With Jobs, style was just as important as the function of the product which likely lead to painstaking iterations in the design of the same product in order to have the function fit the form. By valuing beauty in all of the products they developed, Apple appealed to the visual and human side of consumers and attracted a group of people who would have otherwise never used a personal computer or a mobile phone. Therefore, art and beauty are actually very important in life and should be regarded with high esteem. This is a key lesson particularly in African schools where the arts are not celebrated and considered inferior to more scientific subjects. Personally, I consider science to be critical for development of humans and society but the arts equally have a significant role to play.

  • Treat others with respect and dignity

I think the downside of Job’s genius was that he would treat people brutally with very little consideration for their welfare or feelings. For him, the end justified the means. One line in the book states that his rough and prickly nature hurt him more than it helped him. I tend to believe this. Had he treated people with more respect and compassion, who knows what greater products he could have developed? For me, treating others with dignity and respect and indeed showing love to others is something that is critical in humanity or we will end up a failed world. (current wars and violence is a clear result of the lack of empathy and love in the world.)

Also, success can be measured in various ways and like beauty, it depends on the eye of the beholder. Just because he was successful in developing amazing products, doesn’t mean he was successful in other areas of life which others would consider more important. I hope to appreciate the positive aspects in his life and learn for the negative aspects. As stated in the book, his life is a both an inspiring and cautionary tale.

I really tried to compress this one but didn’t manage to loll…. There’s a lot more in the book so I would recommend it!


Michaela DePrince

Quite honestly, I seem to be spending more time watching TV series than reading any good books. Anyway, let me continue in the spirit of music and good vibes. What better vibe to feature than dance, specifically Ballet 🙂 . I know pretty much nothing about Ballet or the intricacies of the dance. However, I do appreciate the art form that is Ballet and the general twirls and lifts. The girl in me can’t help but love the outfits of ballerinas too.

I must say that Ballet and Africa don’t picture well in my mind. It is hard to imagine a world class ballerina emerging from the depths of Africa. It is even to harder to imagine a talented and passionate ballerina emerging from the war torn areas of  Africa. However, I have been forced to think again. The war torn areas of Africa at their worst, can strip humans of their will to live and at best, strip humans of passion and desire in their daily lives. One girl has proven that it is possible to come out of tragic circumstances move on and still lead a passionate life.

Michaela DePrince is 17 years old. She was born in war-torn Senegal. Her parents died during the war and she was left an orphan. That enough, would send a person lost and out of control. In addition to this, she was born with a skin condition known as Vitiligo which creates discolouration in sections of the skin. Due to this condition, she was considered ‘a devils child’ in the orphanage and was ranked at the bottom of the social pyramid. One thing that struck me about her story was the fact that she kept a picture of a ballerina with her when she was in the children’s home. The picture was a source of inspiration for her and lit the ‘dance flame’ in her life, so to speak. Eventually, she one day achieved her dream to dance as a ballerina. This part of her story really shows the power of visualisation. She never lost sight of her source of inspiration and keeping the picture motivated her. When going through the motions of life or when activities become monotonous, it’s great to have something to remind you why you are doing what you do. That source of inspiration can go a long way.

In this day and age, Michaela has encountered people who have discriminated against her and disregarded her because of the colour of her skin. At 17, she has been through so much and now has to continue to break the barriers against racial discrimination in Ballet. I really wish her all the best and look forward to watching her in a Ballet. In my opinion, Michaela’s passion for dance has definitely propelled her to where she is. At 17, she is young and definitely has a bright future.

One crucial part of her story is the fact that she has had people to support her. She has had the love and support of her adoptive parents. They took her in as their child, realised her talent and supported her in going for her dreams. Without a doubt, I think it’s important to have people to support you and who love and encourage you. Even if it’s not a family member, it’s good to have someone on your team. It is a cliché’ but surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people goes a long way in making you a better person.

I would still love to know more about Ballet and appreciate the dance. I actually watched the Nutcracker once. It was good but I was so far back I couldn’t see everything L I would love to see a more contemporary Ballet too. I think I’ll put a picture somewhere and ‘visualise’ me seeing a contemporary Ballet one  🙂

Here’s a link of her on Youtube..