Book Review – Steve Jobs

Jon Rajewski Book Review

Full disclosure – I received this book as a gift for Christmas and I didn’t read it – I listen to it on CD J. If you’ve never done this before and you have a busy lifestyle I highly recommend it. 

My intention in this post is not to provide a spoiler with regard to all of the details in the autobiography, but I wanted to share what I learned from this book and how its lessons could be applied to the Digital Forensic & Incident Response industry. Below are three reflections after reading the book:

This quote really resonated with me

“We’ve always tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both, to make extremely advanced products from a technology point of view, but also have them be intuitive, easy to use, fun to use, so that they really fit the users – the users don’t have to come to them, they come to the user.”

digital computer forensics is a science jonathan rajewski

What I learned from this quote is a tech company shouldn’t focus solely on the technology. When you have pure technologists with no management skills running companies you typically will have issues. Steve Jobs wasn’t a genius programmer or hardware engineer – he was more of an innovative and demanding leader. He focused on the products, not the bottom line. When you read the book you will quickly learn about Steve’s upbringing and education which you will draw parallels to how/why he ran Apple the way he did.

It’s ever important to have well rounded / articulate employees. In the Digital Forensic & Incident Response (DFIR) industry we have many tools, methods of doing business, and ways of producing work product – to compare that to Steve’s quote – DFIR tools, operating procedures and work product should be – intuitive, easy to use, fun to use, so that they really fit the users – the users don’t have to come to them, they come to the user. “Users” in Steve’s quote is a relative term and the concept could molded into a systemic way of doing business – keep everything in flux from internal employees, management, vendors, legal teams etc.

Steve Job’s was a demanding leader
One of the aspects that made this autobiography a great one was that Walter Isaacson (author) had full authority to interview anyone he needed for this book. We quickly learned that Steve wasn’t “loved” by all of his employees/management/partners. Steve was known to often belittle ideas of employees and demand that products be redesigned.
In my experience, belittling an employee is rarely a good idea. That said effective management techniques such as Appreciative Inquiry and fostering/promoting innovation are. A happy DFIR professional is going to “work that extra hour” or “do the extra research” necessary to service your organizations goals without question. If the work environment created by management both demeaning and demoralizing (one could compare this to how Apple employees felt after product meetings with Steve) the issues could become systemic and travel outside via work product /client-facing products. 

Steve had passion

Although cynical at times, Steve was very passionate about his products. In order for you to be “great” and not just “good” at something, you need be passionate about it. It’s clear after reading this book that Steve, even when his heath was aggressively dwindling, still pursued his passion of leading Apple to success.

As a DFIR professional I can easily say that I’m passionate about what I do. I hope that if you’re involved in DFIR that you share the sentiment. In order for us an industry to effectively combat threats or investigate cyber events, the secret recipe isn’t just playbook with the best incident response plan or a team of experts with special knowledge – but a unified / qualified team with PASSION.

Overall – I would give this book a 4/5 stars. I enjoyed learning about Apple’s history through such an accomplished researcher/author – Walter Isaacson. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.