Steve Jobs Biography was Great

I just finished the Steve Jobs book and it was probably one of the most enjoyable books i’ve read in a long long time. I might say the past 10 years.  Here’s why:

Steve Jobs really cared about his products, deeply.  He had an intuitive feel for what the consumer wanted, and what he wanted.  He truly wanted his products to be close to art.   Even though very few in the industry believed him, even after the Macintosh had been around for over 10 years, he continued to hold on to this belief.  Each button, CD tray, color, and line was important to him. There’s a great passage in the book when he found out that the CD-ROM drive of a Mac was a tray instead a slot and it brought him to tears.

It was also fascinating to hear about the infant PC industry.  I had no idea how the PC industry started. I knew there was Apple and i knew there were was IBM but i didn’t understand how it emerged.  The narrative of the hobbyists building the board in garages makes sense to me, and i now understand.

I also didn’t understand how Jobs could get kicked out of his own company by a CEO and board that he selected.  But, after reading the story, i’m surprised he didn’t get kicked out sooner.   To hear of his return and his path back towards success was riveting.  Just a great story.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s enjoys Apple even a little bit.  Most people didn’t revere Jobs that much when he was alive (except, obviously the fanboys) but looking back at his accomplishments and commitment to excellence and innovation, we have to place him in the pantheon of business and product innovators.
I do think the world is a better place for having him here and i wish more people followed his path and held on to their dreams and reached for the stars.  It’s a great thing when it happens and actually works.

John Quincy Adams was a Badass

John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – Feb 23, 1848) was a Federalist, the son of the last Federalist President and was one of the most talented men to ever serve the country. He held more important offices and participated in more important events than anyone else ever in the history of the nation. Early in his career, he alienated his political party (the Federalists) by voting in favor of the President Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase and even attended parties for its approval (imagine that happening here in DC!).

Also, at the time, the British (being the little bitches they were) were capturing American ships regularly and confiscating the vessels. Quincy wasn’t having any of it but his boys – the Federalists – were sympathetic to the British. So, Quincy Adams went to the Republican meetings and helped them draft a bill of America’s fighting resolution and put in place an embargo. This embargo made John QA, who was a senator at the time, extremely unpopular with his constituents (the local shipworkers) as it halted their production – but he believed it was the right thing to do at the time and “private interest should not be put in opposition to public good.” Times were so bad back then and business was struggling so bad that New England frequently talked of seceding. The embargo was a big deal and Quincy Adams was enemy #1. In fact, the main focus of Federalist party (QA’s party) in 1808 became the destruction of Q.A and he was actually voted out the party by his peers 9 months before his term ended. He had no friends and was basically ruined.

He may have been ruined, but he was a badass who walked alone and acted solely upon his principles and I back it. 17 years later, he was able to regroup and come back and become president. Talk about a comeback! In today’s world of politics, i couldn’t see anyone going against the public, against their party at the expense of their career to do what they thought was right. That’s integrity.

His birthday is today so raise a glass

Kurt Vonnegut: A Legend

One of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, died this past week at the age of 84. He led a pretty incredible life. Born in 1922 in Indiana, he began his writing career at his high school newspaper, The Daily Echo. He briefly attended Butler U, but dropped out when a professor said his stories were not good enough. He then went to Cornell (41-42) where he served as an editor for the student newspaper and majored in biochemistry. He enrolled at Carnegie Mellon in 1943 but studied there only briefly before enlisting in the Army (it was WWII).

In the army he was a scout during the Battle of the Bulge, was cut off from his battalion, and wandered alone behind enemy lines for several days until captured by German troops. There as a POW, Vonnegut witnessed the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden, Germany, which destroyed much of the city. Vonnegut was one of just seven American prisoners of war in Dresden to survive, in an underground meatpacking cellar known as Slaughterhouse Five. He described it as, “Utter destruction. Carnage unfathomable.” This experience formed the core of his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five and is a theme in at least six other books.

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Jim Croce Rocks

CroceI’ve always loved Jim’s music. It’s a great mix of sappy, cheesy love songs (Operator, Have To Say I Love You In A Song) and great folk rock (Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, Mess Around With Jim). But, given that we have all these VH1 specials and full-featured movies about great music legends (Ray, Walk the Line), I can’t understand why there isn’t more press, specials, or movies about Jim Croce. I mean his career is phenomenal. Let’s just look at what went down…

  • Didn’t even care about music till he got to college, graduated in 1965
  • Met his wife when she was a sophomore in high school and he was a junior in college (scandalous!)
  • After college he recorded an album with his wife and they tried to make it happen, but that didn’t really work out. Moved out of the city without even enough money to pay the toll
  • With his wife, he moved to the country and lived on a farm (Lyndell, PA) and regularly jammed with other rock stars while making money working construction jobs
  • When he heard his wife was pregnant, he decided to give it one more shot and released his first album in 1970, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim. The album went on to be ranked #1 on the pop charts. It had 3 songs crack the top 40 (Time in a Bottle, Operator, Don’t Mess Around With Jim)
  • His second album, Life and Times, came out almost 6 months after his first and kicked ass on the charts too. It had 2 songs crack the top 40 (One Less Set of Footsteps, , Bad Bad Leroy Brown)
  • Just 2 years after he released his first album, he released his 3rd album I Got a Name. The album went to #2 on the charts and had 3 songs in the top 40 (I Got a Name, Working at the Car Wash Blues, I’ll Have To Say I Love In A Song)
  • Unfortunately, after releasing his 3rd album he died in a plane crash on September 20, 1973

I find his music to be very sincere and frank – a folkish and simplistic manner that you can’t really find in music today. There’s an interesting bio written in 1973 of how he had a bunch of construction and jackhammer jobs before his first album. Also, there a good story of how the process a having a baby made him get serious and finally put his music out there. Here’s to you Jim…