LitLover Discussion Questions for Steve Job’s Biography by Walter Issacson

Here are some Discussion Questions I found on the LitLovers Site. They also provide a book summary and author description. Feel free to add more questions via Comments.

1. Discuss Steve Jobs as a human being, the man beneath the myth and the hype. What kind of person was he—in his private as well as professional life? Jobs told his Isaacson to leave out nothing, to lay bare his flaws. He also told his friends to stint on nothing. Does Isaacson lean too far in any one direction: or does he steer a steady course between Jobs’s Jekyll and Hyde?

2. What aspects of Steve Jobs’s life disturbed you and /or impressed you most? Did Jobs’s dark side overwhelm his good side?

3. Isaacson raises the question of whether feelings of abandonment in childhood shaped Jobs’s personality. Is his argument convincing?

4. At the end of the book, Jobs answers the bedeviling question “What drove me?” Do you find his answer satisfying … thoughtful … self-serving … or incomplete?

5. What would Jobs have been like to work with…or for? He was clearly a demanding boss. Was he unfairly so—abrasive and unrealistic in his demands? Or was he simply a strict task master who had a vision to be communicated? How might you have fared as a colleague or employee?

6. What was Steve Jobs’s concept of beauty—what was his aesthetic vision? Why were aesthetics such a crucial part of his life?

7. Jobs was eliminated from Apple, the company he founded, and in his absence the company floundered. Why? And when Jobs returned to Apple, he guided its meteoric comeback. Why was Jobs so critical to the company? Why was its performance lackluster without his leadership?

8. How would you characterize Isaacson’s book: as an intimate study of a visionary or a treatise on the rise and fall of one of the world’s most successful companies? Were your expectations, either way, fulfilled by the book?

9. Can you describe the Reality Distortion Field? What exactly is it, and how did it serve Jobs?

10. Talk about the way in which Jobs wrestled with his contradictions—a counterculture rebel who became a millionaire; a disdain for objects yet someone who shaped others’ desires for the products he made? Was he ever able to resolve those dilemmas?

11. Talk about Steve Jobs’s legacy. On what do you believe he will he have a lasting impact? How much did he change the landscape—in technology, design, or gadgetry?

12. In his “Think Different” ad, Jobs wanted to convey his belief that the ones who are crazy enough to think they might change the world are the ones who end up doing so. Do you agree? Can you think of other examples of singular individuals whose vision changed the world? Does that statement apply to all of us…or to the very talented few?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)


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