Steve Jobs

I just finished reading the book (on my iPad, natch) and it really moved me. In the personal realm , I never knew what a prick he so often was, but the extent of his involvement in design is staggering. He refined and refined and was pretty totally insane about producing insanely great products. Hard on people, yes, but oh those designs!

   I’m typing this on my 11″ MacBook Air at Cafe Roma in North Beach (San Francisco) early this morning and as I’ve probably mentioned, it’s my favorite tool in the world right now. Brilliant elegance.

   What’s stayed with me from the book is Steve’s unrelenting refinement upon refinement. It’s made me look at a lot of things I’m doing and think of ways to improve. Rewrite the paragraph one more time. Get my carpentry tighter. Streamline my backpacking gear. It’s looking at everything I do with an eye to improvement, it’s looking at my work through a filter of excellence — well, say rather, improvement.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

17 Responses to Steve Jobs

  1. I listened to the audiobook and had the same realizations you did. He makes me want to do better, in everything. One other thing I took away from it was to go with your gut and push back when others try to make you conform. Great blog Lloyd, thanks for sharing your thoughts, photos and insight!

  2. Can you imagine the eccentric egos that SJ had to wrangle? I imagine that he used his prick-ness as a kind of cattle prod. His genius was not in innovation but in getting the last ounce of "better" out of people who would not have done it without him.

    Anyone who has ever tried knows this: Art Is Hard. It only looks easy when you're done.

  3. Just heard the story on "This American Life," and it left me feeling very sad for Mr Jobs. What if on the list of his accomplishments was his insistence that those who made his products were treated fairly.

  4. Steve Jobs personifies a very important character in american culture : the self-made man, hero of a marvelous tale : the Success Story ! Once upon a time, there was a tiny firm named Apple, and Mac was used only by some journalists and a tribe of initiated fans. Then came Steve Jobs. He wasn't Einstein but he was a genius of innovation and marketing. And the tiny firm swelled and swelled, surfing on the huge waves of Global Economy…
    There's a kind of faith about Apple but we can't ignore its Dark Side which is social dumping and low wages in other countries. The success of iPhone doesn't benefit to American workers, neither Chinese Foxconn workers, it benefits to shareholders (and weighs down american external trade)… For my part, I think that Steve Jobs is the (talented) guru of new-fangled, non hung-up liberalism…

  5. 378 million And he pays the same tax rate as you and me.Congress passes tax breaks for the 1%.We pay for there wars and no health care like Canada

  6. It is incredibly easy for anyone to criticize and pass moral judgments on business leaders, it is incredibly difficult to succeed in any business and especially now in this global economy. Whether Jobs was insensitive or not is irrelevant to the fact that he revolutionized several industries and created huge value (and jobs) to the benefit of many millions of people. If you disapprove of his business you need not purchase products or services from it, no one will force you to work there either, that's the freedom of the market. When ill considered moralists take political power they have a tendency to remove your choice in these matters.

    Before you buy into that whole 1% anti-capitalist thing you might educate yourself on what it takes to keep a business viable and what factors determine whether jobs will be available or not. Here's an excellent article in the latest Atlantic that gives a very clear picture for a US manufacturing company, a long but informative read.

  7. Again worshiping a man who did not care about anybody except his own pocket book and his own ego. A question to bayrider what was the "fact that he revolutionized several industries and created huge value (and jobs) to the benefit of many millions of people. Sir you do not have a clue.


  8. What industries? I can count at least 4.

    Henry Ford was an irascible eccentric, he didn't invent the auto but he brought wheels to the world and sparked a boom of jobs and wealth in the US economy that would last nearly a century. But that was just one industry.

    Steve Jobs brought the personal computer to the world, revolutionized the music industry with the IPOD and the Apple store's individual song downloads, turned the telephone into a portable computing device, I'm told Pixar was huge in developing computer animated films. Next thing was/is to be TV. Desktop publishing is huge, I bet Lloyd could testify to that.

    I personally don't use any Apple products, always used PCs due to my work and I don't like telephone contracts etc. But there is no doubt millions of creative people worldwide love these products and use them to great effect in their lives and work.

    I have often pointed out to people that Apple's profit margins are huge, 4 or 5 times more than Exxon/Mobil's. The market cap briefly exceeded that of Exxon/Mobil this past year. So if you judge companies as greedy because they are hugely profitable you might see it that way. You don't think much of those 'shareholders', but perhaps you benefit by having a pension that is holding some of their stock, many Americans do. Myself, I like companies that provide products that are excellent, useful and loved and that I may choose to patronize or not. Those are all the right reasons to be profitable.

  9. Bayrider, right on! People are a mixture of good and bad. I don't believe in tossing out the baby with the bathwater. i'm willing to cut true geniuses some slack. Picasso doesn't have to do the dishes.*

    Many of these people are by many accounts insane. They focus on what they are doing to the exclusion of everything else, and there's a down side to that, but the up side is greater. The agony and the ecstasy.

    *I went to an outdoor concert in the '60s in Santa Clara (Calif.). The Doors were playing, and the Electric Flag band opened for them. When they took the stage, guitarist Mike Bloomfield hadn't shown up and singer Nick Gravenites was really pissed. He dissed Bloomfield mightily — "He's always late, never thinks about others, blah blah…" Finally the band started to play and Gravy still looked angry. A few minutes into the song, Bloomfield wandered onstage, plugged in, and came right in with some of his beautiful licks. Gravy's expression went from anger to bliss. All was forgiven.

  10. Yes,great blog Lloyd.It's nice to read the comments and see different views pop up. It can be hard to take the bad w/the good…but we have to. After all, Jesus is not running for president-so I hear.

  11. Bayrider thank you. Also you are more of a gentleman than I. I am the one who doesn't have a clue. Many apologies. and thank to you LLoyd. great story too. It's rare luck indeed to have such a place of kinderd spirits to experience perfect happiness


  12. Scrap, no problem. Interestingly enough, I just read this article in the WSJ today detailing Apple's supplier's factory conditions and their plan to address them, it pretty much affirms the points you were making. There is no question that there are problems and injustices there and I would guess this is the case industry wide in these Chinese factories. Steve did a lot of good with his visionary ideas but I suppose he did not concern himself with this relatively low level aspect of his business which is regrettable, he certainly could have done better. Henry Ford raised his workers wages to the then unheard of $5 per shift so they could afford to purchase the cars they were making and reduce turnover, it wasn't altruistic so much as shrewd business. I don't believe Steve was motivated primarily by money but plenty of other people are up and down any organization, unfortunately with human nature being what it is we are a long ways from a just and equitable world and with no easy way to get there. Peace.

    Apple Details Working Conditions at Factories

  13. Just for fun, hopeless geeks !

    In a BBC' s documentary , Alex Ripley explores the world of the technology superbrands – how they get us to buy their stuff, trust them and even idolise them. He discovers how Apple has literally become a new religion :
    more details on

    Alex Ripley says :

    ''The scenes I witnessed at the opening of the new Apple store in London's Covent Garden were more like an evangelical prayer meeting than a chance to buy a phone or a laptop.
    The strangeness began a couple of hours before the doors opened to the public. Inside the store, glassy-eyed staff were whipped up into a frenzy of excitement, jumping up and down, clapping and shouting.
    Apple staff encouraged the hysteria at the new store opening in Covent Garden
    When the doors finally opened, they hysterically "high-fived" and cheered hundreds of delirious customers flooding in through the doors for hours on end.
    And what did those customers – some who'd travelled from as far away as the US and China and slept on the pavement for the privilege – find when they finally got inside?
    Well, all the same stuff as in the Apple store half a mile away on Regent Street. No special offers, no free gifts (a few t-shirts were handed out), no exclusive products. Now that's devotion.
    I searched high and low for answers. The Bishop of Buckingham – who reads his Bible on an ipad – explained to me the similarities between Apple and a religion.
    And when a team of neuroscientists with an MRI scanner took a look inside the brain of an Apple fanatic it seemed the bishop was on to something.
    The results suggested that Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.''

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