Books and Me: Inside Apple

Book Name:  Inside Apple                                                                                                         

Author: Adam Lashinsky

Whenever anything is spoken about Steve Jobs it raises every listener’s antenna.  If anything was published about Apple – it would elicit a very similar response for this same reason – Steve Jobs.  Stop here for a second and imagine trying to talk about Apple or Steve Jobs without reference to each other.  It will remain an arduous task if not impossible.  But while Apple remains every firm’s aspiration –to-be and Steve Jobs every entrepreneur’s aspiration-to-be; it has always been difficult to understand the two together.  And Adam Lashinsky’s title for the book is exactly what every person who comes in touch with an Apple product wonders – “What is Inside Apple?”

 Though I picked up the book with extreme scepticism as just another travel mate, the book truly was un-put-downable. It is usually said of a good book that a few pages by themselves are worth the cover price; but in this case every single page can stake a claim for this.  Right from the unconventional org-chart  to curious chapter heads like “Hire Disciples”, “Embrace Secrecy” makes the investment worth many times the cover price. 

The book attempts to provide answers to a series of very interesting questions such as “What allowed Steve Jobs to return to Apple?”, “How did a company with just 90 days away from insolvency become  a company with 100 Billion in cash reserves?”,”Why did people want to work for a person who by all theories of leadership could have never had followers?”, “How could fear have been used as an effective management tool?”, “How did autocratic leadership style work in giving the best creative output?”, “How success of Apple defies explanation offered by every single management concept?”,” How did people accept to be treated with suspicion and tough controls in an industry that speaks about openness?”,”How could skewed bureaucracy work successfully in a flat world?”

Apart from these questions you may find answers to a lot more interesting ones as well, as you read the book.

The book clearly stands as an example for exceptions at work.  It provides enormous inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs about why belief in one’s self is the most valued asset of the institution.  Many examples and actions of Steve Jobs and Apple provide fresh perspective on areas of interest to business, such as strategy, marketing, branding, communications, PR and HR.  One cannot help ponder on a rather obvious question after reading the book would be “Will Timothy Cook be able carry forward the baton handed down by an iconoclast like Steve Jobs?”

However for me a number of other questions come to mind that provides for some serious reflection like “Why did a person who blatantly dismissed market research want to know what is happening in the markets?” “Why did a person who dismissed college education bring in a professor to set up their learning arm?” “Why did a person who cared so much about customer experience not bother about the customer?”  Questions such as these cropped up as I read the book over and over again.  

Does Steve Jobs journey with Apple signify living life on the edge? Or does it justify the famously talked about ‘Reality Distortion Field’ around him? Will single pointed effort in life remain paradoxical from every other person’s view?  This leads me to yet another question – how does one build such tremendous single pointedness in purpose and faith in ones self?

As I reflect on these and look up to Vedanta for answers, it is encouraging to note that even Steve Jobs found some of his answers also in Vedanta through his sojourn in India.

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