I wasn't quite sure what to expect in reading this book about Steve Jobs. Actually, I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it to be honest, as I'm no fan of Mr. Jobs. But something about the illustrated artwork on the cover, ironically, made me think the book might be more real. Together with the endorsement of a friend I decided to give it a try. Besides, I could always toss it aside if it fell into the usual laudatory tone of many other accounts of Steve's life and influence (especially now he has passed) right?
I was pleasantly surprised.
The book weaves in and out of Jobs' life as we know it - working at Apple and Next - to tell a lesser known story of influence that a relationship with a zen master , Kobun, had on Steve's life. A bit of a rebel himself, Kobun makes for an interesting character in his own right.
With crafty penmanship and brush strokes the author and illustrator (the illustrators deserve as much credit for the storytelling in this book as the author) show us how the teachings of Kobun could have played an instrumental role in not only the way Steve lived his life but also designed his products. At one point, as Kobun is having Steve walk around in seemingly endless circles at a Zen sanctuary, the book reveals such a possible influence Kobun might have had on Steve. The book abruptly cuts away from the Zen sanctuary in the 1980s to a more recent Steve Jobs explaining to the Cupertino City Council his grand view for the new world headquarters of Apple. Steve uses the very same words that Kobun used to explain the power of the circle to him as he plodded around in circles at the Zen sanctuary in describing the circular design of the new campus. It's a beautiful and revealing moment. Even if it didn't happen exactly like that.
It is contrasts like this between Steve's brass, power-seeking self and the calm and wise ways of Kobun that make the story quite delightful. It helps you see the human side of Steve and realize you, too, have two sides. It is at this moment, when you start to relate to Steve Jobs, that you realize the story has been quite effective.
Well done folks. I look forward to your next book. Keep telling the story behind the story. It is here that we find the lessons we need to push onward towards greatness.