Book Review: The Steve Jobs Way, iLeadership for a New Generation

The Steve Jobs WaySteve Jobs has been a popular figure in business books lately.  First we had The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs which aimed to get us to think differently and gave us some insight into innovation.  And now, Jay Elliot, author and former Senior VP of Apple, has delivered an insider’s view of Steve Jobs and his leadership style in his book The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation

Jay Elliot Writes an Intimate, Insider’s Story

Elliot (with the help of William Simon) has written The Steve Jobs Way in what I’d call an intimate and reflective style.  He delivers the leadership lessons he experienced working alongside Steve Jobs.

Don’t expect a how-to manual here.  After reading through the stories and examples that Elliot provides, you’ll have to reflect on your own experiences and then think about ways that you might want to implement Jobs’ way as part of your own.

WWSJD (What Would Steve Jobs Do?)

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs reigns supreme in the worlds of product innovation, brand building, marketing, presenting and leadership.  Here is a passage from chapter 2, “Success in the Details.”  I’ve picked an excerpt where you can see the lesson in play.  After reading this paragraph, I started thinking about the ways in which I could make my customers “successful” or help them become “master users.”

“Steve Jobs understood something that a lot of companies try to do, but are rarely successful at.  The more he advanced, the simpler his products became.  In some instances, it’s less about the product and more about the user.  Every user wants to be successful.  When you know how to operate something masterfully, how does it make you feel?  More people will buy if customers feel good using the product.”

Here’s another example of a leadership lesson that pulls from the popular story of Steve’s calligraphy class experience:

“What’s your most unusual talent, ability or area of knowledge that you never expect to have much use for?

One example: In his short stay at Reed College, [Steve Jobs] had stumbled on the subject of calligraphy.  This was a young man who had, at an early age, been bitten by the technology bug. Why on earth would such a rarefied field as calligraphy have appealed to him?

His fascination with shapes and forms stretches from the configuration of letters in fonts like Garamond and Myriad to the incredibly appealing design of the iPhone.”

Why Should I Read Another Book About Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs’ management style, his entrepreneurial spirit and his unique way of being appear to be resonating with today’s marketplace.  Whether it’s his relentless focus on the customer experience or his ability to create a culture of innovation and creativity, Jobs has captured the interest of consumers and businesspeople alike.

If you’re looking for a break from checklists and worksheets that poke and prod at your brain to come up with new ideas, this book offers a gentler way of thinking about things while you read about Elliot’s experiences and Jobs’ actions and reactions to common business challenges.

If you’re a fan of educational biographies, this is a good book for you.  You get to experience Steve Jobs’ style as if you were literally walking beside Elliot from the time he meets Jobs in a restaurant through Jobs’ ouster in 1985.

Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."