I’m currently reading “Steve Jobs” by Walter Issacson and have been wondering what Jobs’ as a creator/creative director reminds me of.
The Jobs depicted here is a Hippy in his personal life and certainly in his drug use, but a maniac in getting things done his way, the way his way is the only “right” way to do things. He is obsessive about design, but not just to beautify. The processor, memory etc of a device is not what dictates the design, these are the things that you decide as part of the design. And he doesn’t believe in customer survey/ asking the customer about possible features. At all.
What does this remind me of? Howard Roark of course. The architect hero of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead who refused to work as a decorator of buildings and instead wanted to design buildings for the purpose they were built for. And this is where a paradox emerges. Apple and Jobs fans tend to be the leftist, Liberal, free spirited types who probably are miles away from Rand’s “Extremist Capitalism” philosophy. Yet the design of their favorite gadgets and toys was made possible by a ruthless drive by Jobs towards creating devices just the way he liked, in service of a company with legendary profit margins, and legendary incomes. Arguably Jobs never wanted much wealth for himself and lived a very simple life relative to his wealth, but so do all of Ayn Rand’s heroes. Wealth, to them, is never an end in itself, but a reflection of the worth they have created, and a due their customers owe them.
Roark, Reardon, Galt and Dagny would also have approved of the ferocity with which Apple defends its intellectual property. Apple is currently suing several Android makers for what it thinks is copy of Apple’s ideas, and in past had sued several makers, big and small for copying its Mac related designs and patents.
So here we are with Steve Jobs, a hippy by nature, who dropped out of college, was an avid drug user, embraced Buddhism, and traveled to India looking for spiritual enlightenment. The Steve jobs who has been a magnet for left leaning people of the world for several decades and who projected himself and his company as the leader of counter-culture. He is one of the best examples of a life led by the principles Ayn Rand’s ideas of what an ideal businessman/creator needs to be.
Isn’t irony delicious?
Disclaimer: I personally think her philosophy (Objectivism) is a combination of some of the best ideas in the world with some of the deepest ignorance of how humans work
More important disclaimer: What Jobs does wrong is about 80% of the book so far, and most of that is profoundly unheroic, like taking credit for ideas not your own.