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Inside Steve's Brain, Expanded Edition

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One of USA Today's Best Business Books of 2008-now updated with a new chapter

It's hard to believe that one man revolutionized computers in the 1970s and '80s (with the Apple II and the Mac), animated movies in the 1990s (with Pixar), and digital music in the 2000s (with the iPod and iTunes). No wonder some people worship Steve Jobs like a god. On the other hand, stories of his epic tantrums and general bad behavior are legendary.

Inside Steve's Brain cuts through the cult of personality that surrounds Jobs to unearth the secrets to his unbelievable results. So what's really inside Steve's brain? According to Leander Kahney, who has covered Jobs since the early 1990s, it's a fascinating bundle of contradictions.

This expanded edition includes a new chapter on Jobs's very public health crisis and the debate about Apple's future.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Leander Kahney

10 books119 followers
Leander Kahney is managing editor, formerly a senior reporter at Wired News, the online sister publication of Wired. He is the author of The Cult of Mac , Cult of iPod and Inside Steve's Brain. Kahney is best known for his popular blog, Cult of Mac (The Cult of Mac Blog). As a prominent writer on Apple- and Mac-related topics, Kahney was once theorized (incorrectly) to be the identity of Fake Steve Jobs.

Leander has worked for many other publications, including: MacWeek, as a senior reporter, Scientific American, The Observer and The Guardian in London. Working as a newspaper reporter in the UK, he covered amongst other things, the war in former Yugoslavia.

According to Gawker.com, Leander Kahney has been laid off from Wired.COM.

He is currently living in San Francisco, California and is a father of four.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 210 reviews
Profile Image for Tim.
Author 72 books2,647 followers
August 31, 2008
While there's not much new here for someone who's followed Apple for years, Leander does a great job of pulling it all together. This is a book I want to make sure lots of people in my company read. It's a compelling portrait of a man who is, by all accounts, extremely difficult. But he is also a great, recurring genius. Understanding what makes him tick is valuable for anyone in business.

The key takeaway that I want my employees to read the book for is the idea that marketing isn't something you add to the product; it's an inherent part of it. "Character is destiny," as Heraclitus said. Apple has delivered remarkable products because Steve understands this in his bones.

There are other great business insights too - the importance of getting it right, even if you have to start over. (The story of how the Apple stores were redesigned at a cost of millions after everyone in the organization was ready to roll with the original design is alone worth the cost of the book. So often, people are reluctant to make changes late in a process. Yet often, it isn't till what is normally considered "too late" that it becomes clear what will make the difference between good enough and great.

I can think of many times when I've insisted on last minute changes, and others when I've let myself be dissuaded. I've never regretted the former; I've almost always regretted the latter.

Reading Steve's story reminds me to be more unreasonable in the pursuit of excellence. This is a great reminder for anyone in business.
Profile Image for Jr Bacdayan.
211 reviews1,656 followers
April 21, 2013
This part (supposed) biography, part (again supposed) leadership guide, is a hollow metal pitcher. You're duped by the weight of it, thinking that it's full. But there's nothing to be gained no matter how much you try pouring something out. If anything, it's full of itself. It reflects Steve Jobs' image, but that of a distorted one. You see, the negative outweigh the positive so much in this book, that you'd end up wishing you hadn't read it. Firstly, the biography part was too praising. It was too full of opinion to be considered a decent biography. Basically, Steve was portrayed as Superman. I understand that he was really gifted, but the tone set was that of a disillusioned yapping dog heedlessly drooling over its perceived omnipotent variation of its master. If that wasn't bad enough, the leadership points it stressed out were really absurd. Honestly, I was really disgusted by it. The principles/guidelines at the end of every chapter were based on Jobs' reaction to certain events or problems aforementioned. If he was moody, it was like: Be moody, but in a good way. Shallow, shallow, shallow. Full of hollow hypotheses. Don't read this book. You'll end up getting pissed at the "oh so obvious" principles. Leander supposes that his readers are stupid, he rubs it in your face. Big mistake. There's a reason why decent people avoid self-helps and be-like-this books.

Here's the gist: Steve's the perfect man, everyone should think and be like him.

There are lots of purely biographical books about Steve Jobs out there. If you're ever interested, choose from them. Don't make the same mistake I did.

Profile Image for Sheila.
78 reviews
July 26, 2013
I find this book very informative in that it details how a visionary created something great that it distinguishes not only Apple and Pixar from other tech companies, but also Steve Jobs from other CEOs or C-level executives who walked this earth and who can only claim that they run a company. Steve Jobs didn't just run a company, that's plain to see. He produced hit after hit of high-tech consumer products as the author and tech writer Leander Kahney explains in this 9-chapter, almost 300-page, very handy book.

So what does the reader expect to know from this sort-of-biography / business book?

Don't expect to read things like What Steve Jobs did is textbook management skill in that he used the organization to create something of value. Kahney is a blogger and a former reporter for Wired magazine so you'll find the writing both factual and anecdotal. Just don't expect Harvard Business Review type of analysis, which I know some followers of successful companies are wont to read. But Kahney uses concepts like vertical integration, innovation, control, etc. to explain the business decisions made by Jobs so that should attract even the most adept of business practitioners.

This chapter title should give you a clue of Kahney's tone in writing: Elitism:Hire Only A Players, Fire the Bozos.

So what was Steve Jobs thinking inside his brain that made him legendary?

Not money. That was the result of months, years of prototyping that his top designer, Jonathan Ive, and his other managers performed. Not competition. He wasn't concerned about company rankings or market share. Again, those are results. What was inside his brain is this vision of having the best customer experience with him as the test market. If he thought that a competitor gadget or any high-tech appliance, say, a washing machine, is too inferior both in appearance and functionality or too complicated to use, he wanted, he obsessed about improving them.

That was his mission. He improved the way we use our everyday tools, communication---connecting being the most important and human.

You'll find anecdotes galore here, placed in between Kahney's piecing through of the puzzle that is Steve, manager of people and talents and inventor of simple and elegant communication and music tools.

And yes, he was a despot. Yes, he was a perfectionist. I'm not really shocked. Though I'm sure I'll be the first person out of the door if I should work for someone as demanding like Steve. But that's my choice. The employees of Apple made their choice and now they're enjoying their Italian cars and other such luxuries.

Thank you Steve.

I look now at my long dead Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, bought in Singapore before the first iPhone was launched. I've since replaced it with an iPod Nano so that I can still listen secretly to my parents' music when I'm feeling nostalgic. I wouldn't be caught dead listening to Elvis in public (from where I came, it's acceptable for people to turn on their radio really loud especially on weekends).

But with 1,000 songs in my pocket, at least I can have that private, secret experience.

Thank you Steve.

One more thing: Steve Jobs once said after taking the helm of the company in 1997 that he had second thoughts about getting involved for the second time. I like reading that little known fact, that moment of doubt. It made Steve human, at least to me.
Profile Image for حسين المتروك.
Author 5 books580 followers
March 28, 2015
الكتاب مُلهم، فهذا الرجل لديه الكثير من الجنون ..
رغم كُل شيء إلا أنّه تمكن من التركيز على جوانب مُحدّدة وانطلق ..

الصوتيات، الفيديو، الكتاب.
حاولت تطوير هذه الأمور، وانطلق نحو المجد ..

ستيف جوبز، شخصية مُلهمة غريبة، وهذه الرحلة تُعطي الكثير ..
Profile Image for Phoenix  Perpetuale.
192 reviews64 followers
January 5, 2019
I find this book very motivating. When I red it, something happened inside me. Something changed. Something positive.
Profile Image for Tariq A.
232 reviews74 followers
November 13, 2011
لم أتعوّد أن أقرأ كتابا بهذا التوثيق الدقيق، فهو في نهاية كل معلومة يُضيف رقمًا يدل على مصدرها، وفي نهاية الكتاب فصل كامل للمراجع يُمكنك من خلاله
معرفة مصدر كل معلومة بشكل مفصّل
الكتاب رائع، يكشف معلومات جديدة، ويتعمق في شخصية ستيف وطبيعة عمله، حتى يُصبح واضحا للقارئ،
وأظنّ أن أكثر الناس لايعرف حقيقة ستيف وطبيعة عمله الفعلية، فهو ليس بمبرمج، ولا مُصمم، إنه شخص دقيق يمتلك رؤية فنية وجمالية

الترجمة سيئة، وربما تمت الاستعانة ببرنامج ترجمة الكتروني
وهذا سبب الترجمة الحرفية لبعض مصطلحات التقنية التي تحتاج لترجمة مفهوم
Profile Image for Sean.
20 reviews3 followers
April 29, 2008
Nothing really new here --much of the material is based on already published sources. But still, it's a nice compilation of how Steve Jobs built (and rebuilt) Apple, and some of his interesting ideas about product development and management.

Loved the deet about the Jobs family taking 2 weeks to purchase a washing machine and dryer (got to keep those black turtle necks clean), as they had dinner-time discussions on design, function, and eco-friendliness of the various products.

Also was reminded that Jobs is not without error in his judgement. While all the young world was getting into digital music as the turn of the century, Jobs thought the killer app was going to be digital video. Took him awhile to figure out music was at the center of the digital hub. iTunes and iPod followed shortly thereafter.
Profile Image for Rohit Duggal.
12 reviews1 follower
April 2, 2015

Inside Steve's Brain
Steve Jobs has turned his personality traits into a business philosophy. Here’s how he does it.

It’s hard to believe that one man revolutionized computers in the 1970s and ’80s (with the Apple II and the Mac), animated movies in the 1990s (with Pixar), and digital music in the 2000s (with the iPod and iTunes). No wonder some people worship him like a god. On the other hand, stories of his epic tantrums and general bad behavior are legendary.

Inside Steve’s Brain cuts through the cult of personality that surrounds Jobs to unearth the secrets to his unbelievable results. It reveals the real Steve Jobs—not his heart or his famous temper, but his mind. So what’s really inside Steve’s brain? According to Leander Kahney, who has covered Jobs since the early 1990s, it’s a fascinating bundle of contradictions.

Jobs is an elitist who thinks most people are bozos—but he makes gadgets so easy to use, a bozo can master them.

He’s a mercurial obsessive with a filthy temper—but he forges deep partnerships with creative geniuses like Steve Wozniak, Jonathan Ive, and John Lasseter.

He’s a Buddhist and anti-materialist—but he produces mass-market products in Asian factories, and he promotes them with absolute mastery of the crassest medium, advertising.

In short, Jobs has embraced the traits that some consider flaws—narcissism, perfectionism, the desire for total control—to lead Apple and Pixar to triumph against steep odds. And in the process, he has become a self-made billionaire.

In Inside Steve’s Brain, Kahney distills the principles that guide Jobs as he launches killer products, attracts fanatically loyal customers, and manages some of the world’s most powerful brands.

The result is this unique book about Steve Jobs that is part biography and part leadership guide, and impossible to put down. It gives you a peek inside Steve’s brain, and might even teach you something about how to build your own culture of innovation.
Profile Image for Bakari.
Author 2 books40 followers
September 11, 2010
"Inside Steve's Brain" is much more about Apple than it is about Steve Jobs. I don’t remember the book including any personal interviews with Jobs, nor does the writer provide any behind-the-scene knowledge about how Jobs me makes decisions concerning his company. This is a useful book if you want to find out more about Apple in general, but it won't give you much insight about Jobs the man.
Profile Image for Diogo Miguel.
37 reviews1 follower
September 7, 2022
Solid book. Some parts were very interesting. Not a lifechanging book. If you're someome into techonology and product developmemt I would definitly reccomend you to read it. Good book but nothing I would read again, therefore 3 stars.
Profile Image for Linsey.
105 reviews
May 16, 2022
Just a report on a privileged man who was an abusive boss but also the person behind Apple. He displayed the behaviour that is only accepted from rich white men
Profile Image for Živilė.
23 reviews5 followers
November 15, 2019
Nusprendžiau visus detektyvus padėti į šalį ir paskaityti kažką šiek tiek kitokio. Nežinau ar dėl to, kad ši knyga išleista pakankamai seniai ar dėl to, jos viskas buvo kartojama begalę kartų visoje knygoje ar dėl to, kad nebuvo jokios logiškos ir tikslios laiko tekmės, bet labai sunkiai ir lėtai man ši knyga skaitės.
Profile Image for Diana Arm.
31 reviews
August 5, 2020
Pagaliau pabaigiau skaityti! Kažkodėl skaitėsi sunkiai, bet nepasakyčiau kad neįdomiai, daug įdomių įdėjų, faktų iš “Apple” gyvenimo. Bet manau, jeigu kažkas nuo pat pradžiu seka “Apple”naujienas ir žiūrėjo dokumentinį filmą šita tema, tai šitą knygą būtų nenaudinga skaityti.
Profile Image for Clorush.
41 reviews8 followers
July 25, 2013
I started using iTunes in 2011 for downloading podcasts by several pastors of USA (Joel Osteen and Erwin McManus to name some) and thinking that I owe a lot to Apple, the company that made iTunes, I decided to read Inside Apple and this book, so that I may learn a thing or two concerning the man who made Apple achieve something so significant. I'm aware of Apple due to its reputation, and since I'm a student of Information System, I want to know what impact they actually have made on the Digital Age.

Reading this book was a great experience, partly because I felt like I have read something like it before (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell,) and now that I think of it, this exploration of the man Steve Jobs and his company Apple confirmed what Gladwell has said in the Outliers, that the time when you were born matters a great deal in achieving success. Jobs' total control philosophy failed with Apple II, but it succeeded when he launched iPod. His values of design, marketing, and ease of use were unpopular at the years of early PC growth, when the main buyers of computers were geeks and corporations. Yet now, with the rise of the digital lifestyle era, things were different.

One thing that I know about Human-Computer Interaction, is that this group of human beings that we labeled as "user" is made up of all kinds of people. Some users are geeks, and they'd love to tweak their hardwares and softwares, adding this software and that graphic cards, and of course that chip and this motherboard (During the first two weeks after I bought my Samsung Galaxy Tab, I rooted the device and installed various custom ROMs and Kernels, until I decided to restore my original version of Android. Those ROMs and Kernels are confusing and unstable.) Some Users are just.. well, "normal" people. This group of user is not interested in rooting their Android devices or jailbreaking their iPhone. They just bought the device because of what it can do, like editing videos and photos, sharing their things in social media like Facebook and Twitter. Clearly, when I said they are not interested in rooting or jailbreaking, that also means they are not going to like it when their devices crash and freeze. My Tab suffered a few bugs when I rooted it, but I'm interested in computers and tablets.

Now the question is this: if a tech company decided to create a computer that would be a must-have for every single human being alive on this planet, what values must the company embedded inside the computer?

Variations of choices or stability and reliability?

This is an important question in understanding why Apple is so influential and successful in what it does. It created several products that fits the need of the people as "normal" users. People who don't really care what type of graphic cards the device has, as long as it works and they get what they want. People who just want to use computers for productivity's sake, not for tweaking and learning about all the different hardwares and softwares, and all the list of names of computers like Asus A43E , Asus A43C and Asus A43A. WHATEVER!

Computers were an integral part of life nowadays, and if people need to learn all these different names, types, and specs of computers BEFORE they could decide which one to buy, then, instead of enhancing productivity and making things simple, the IT would reduce human's productivity. It seems pretty obvious and taken for granted now, with the emergence of Android and Windows 8, and the still-in-development operating systems like Chrome and Firefox. But we have to remember these new OSes are emulations of iOS. They were possible because somebody showed that it is possible.

I think that's an important lesson in understanding how these small, rectangular things that we described best as "computer" interacts with humans. In small and subtle ways, computers changed the way we live and the way we do things little by little, yet those changes are not without explanations. There are people out there who do these research and explorations to simplify a computer, because creating a good, simple, and easy-to-use devices like iPhone and Mac is not effortless. It is created diligently and carefully by a team of dedicated people who would have a meeting at 9pm to 1am discussing their progress.

But then, how to know what these normal users want out of a computer? You can't go around and ask people what they want out of a computer when all they ever experienced with a computer are freezes, complicated instructions and data-lost. You will need a mind that could comprehend what the "normal" users would like best in a computer, and that is another thing that Steve Jobs has in his brain.

Steve was an Outlier indeed, and as with all Outliers, there is a profound, almost unbelievable story of how one achieve significant success and--sometimes--change the world.
Profile Image for Nathan.
Author 8 books112 followers
October 31, 2011
Kahney's writing style is a little clunky, and insights were difficult to come by. I read this before Isaacson's book, and was surprised how many of the stories in Kahney's book are reprised in Isaacson's. There was more personal stuff in Isaacson's (naturally, he was given family access and Jobs's blessing), but both rely heavily on early Apple and Macintosh stories. The most obviously reproduced bit was the iMac launch keynote rehearsal where Jobs wanted the lights adjusted just so the iMac would really shine when it was unveiled. Both books use almost exactly the same language for exactly the same event (down to details like Jobs flopping his legs over the top of the seat in front of him), presumably because (as for so much else) they used the same source.

I strongly do not recommend binging on Jobs biographies. As this one ends before the iPad, it is incomplete. You might as well drink a lot of coffee and wade through Isaacson's book, because it is largely a superset of Kahney's.
Profile Image for Fernanda La Salye.
35 reviews8 followers
July 13, 2010
É difícil acreditar que um homem revolucionou os computadores nos anos 1970 e 1980, o cinema de animação e a música digital nos anos 1990. Por outro lado, são lendárias as histórias de seus repentinos acessos de raiva, revelando o verdadeiro Steve Jobs. Então, o que há, realmente, dentro do cérebro de Steve? Segundo Leander Kahney, é um fascinante feixe de contradições.

O autor destila os princípios que guiam Jobs ao lançar produtos arrasadores, ao atrair compradores fanaticamente fiéis e ao administrar algumas das marcas mais poderosas do mundo. O resultado é este livro singular sobre Steve Jobs que é, ao mesmo tempo, uma biografia e um guia de liderança, impossível de largar.
27 reviews
April 9, 2010
The book i read was inside man the script this is not it because it was close to it. the inside man was about a bank robbery with the four robber in an van dressed in genator suit acting like they are cleaning the bank but really they are robbing the place.

i could make a text to world connection because all the time people rob people in the bank or people.

i gave this book a five star because i liked the movie and i like how the robbers was smart how they dress to trick the people in the bank.
Profile Image for Narinder  Bhatia.
82 reviews
February 4, 2016
Being an ardent fan of Steve Jobs prompted me to pick up the book (ironically i am not a user of Apple products !). Frankly sharing i had high expectations from the book but it clearly fell very short of those. There are flashes of Job's genius touched upon/ highlighted in the book but it's more of a history of the evolution of Apple products and of the digital consumerism as well. The only silver lining are the learnings described towards the end of the chapters.
Profile Image for Luciano Palma.
Author 1 book16 followers
July 8, 2010
Uma boa biografia que reflete a impressionante capacidade de inovação deste gênio que definitivamente entrou para a história com seu espírito revolucionário.
Leitura que vale a pena, para perceber que mesmo admirando um ícone, você pode descobrir características dele com as quais você não concorda. E viva a diferença! :)
O ponto mais fraco é a tradução. Esta deixa bastante a desejar.
14 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2019
Uma releitura do estilo folhear e reter as principais lições. Neste momento da minha vida, são:
1) Foco significa dizer NÃO.
2) Mantenha o foco. Não dê margem ao excesso de funções.
Se eu conseguir aplicar estes 3 conceitos na minha vida, valeu muito a leitura.
Profile Image for Mohammed Alhamad.
44 reviews5 followers
January 14, 2011
من اراد أن يفهم استراتيجية ابل وكيف سيطرت على الساحة فليقرأ هذا الكتاب
ستيف جوبز = ابل
ابل = ستيف جوبز
Profile Image for Mauro.
57 reviews3 followers
January 23, 2011
Articolone agiografico. Qualche aneddoto interessante (full disclaimer: biografie di imprenditori viventi non è un genere che frequento, quindi il mio giudizio può essere non equilibrato!)
3 reviews
April 8, 2014
Una interesante visión de la obra de Steve Jobs. Está algo incompleta porque sólo cubre hasta la aparición del iPhone, y hecha años antes de su muerte, pero es disfrutable de todas formas.
Profile Image for Martin Danko.
62 reviews4 followers
July 22, 2015
Odporucam pre lahke nazretie do kotlika, ktory pod Jobsovym vedenim zacal varit ten zakaznicky najchutnejsi technologicky gulas sucasnej doby.
Profile Image for Achi.
82 reviews1 follower
February 19, 2021
ბიოგრაფიული ნაწილი შეზავებულია ერთგვარ ანალიზთან თუ რატომ მუშაობდა სტივ ჯობსის მიდგომა და როგორ გადაარჩინა მან ეფლი. საინტერესოა თუმცა საბოლოო ჯამში მაინც ზედმეტად გაბევრებულია ის, რაც წიგნის მესამედშიც ჩაეტეოდა. სტივი იყო პერფექციონისტი, დიდ ყურადღებას უთმობდა დიზაინს, მოხერხებულობას და სერვისს, დიდ აქცენტს აკეთებდა წარდგენაზე და ინოვაციაზე. აჰა ესეც წიგნის ნახევარი ორ ხაზად. არი მომენტები სადაც მოვლენების ქრონოლოგია გითრევს და გაგრძნობინებს თუ როგორი იყო ეფლში მუშაობა. აქედან გამომდინარე ალბათ ღირს, რომ წაიკითხო. თუმცა, ბევრი ისეთი დეტალია, რაც რიგითმა ადამიანმა ისედაც იცის.
Profile Image for Rafael Jaques.
27 reviews1 follower
June 30, 2017
Um livro interessante que conta várias histórias que aconteceram dentro da Apple e como Steve Jobs criou seu império. Aborda também o tempo em que ele esteve fora e o que fez quando voltou, até chegar ao período de sua doença.
Tenta trazer algumas "dicas" sobre como gerenciar uma empresa, baseado no que Jobs fazia.
Mas, no fim das contas, é um livro apenas mediano. Ideal para quem gosta muito da Apple ou quer saber mais sobre a vida e a carreira de Steve Jobs.
Profile Image for Sara.
26 reviews
August 19, 2017
I really should say I read this because I could not get through it. I stopped halfway. It put me to sleep. The author repeats himself over and over. He thinks Jobs was a flawless human so the writing is slanted to make him seem like a god. You could read a Wikipedia page on Jobs and learn all you need to know. This book is useless.
86 reviews3 followers
November 30, 2019
It's great to read a book which was written before Steve's death.
The content of the book was compact which made it focus on the most important points.
I honestly recommend it if one would like to know how was it inside Apple just by spending 3 evenings.
Profile Image for Diego Ferreira.
85 reviews1 follower
December 1, 2020
Para quem conhece um pouco a história da Apple não traz grandes novidades, mas com detalhes muito significativos. Detalha alguns momentos da carreira de Steve de como tomava decisão. Muito interessante de entender como um gênio conseguia fazer tantas inovações e estar sempre a frente de seu tempo.
Profile Image for Akshay Bakshi.
47 reviews
July 18, 2017
For someone steeped into Steve's stories, this will be a fun read. The book draws too many "lessons" from one-off anecdotes though.
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