Walter Isaacson

  • Aired:  10/25/11
  •  | Views: 89,338

Walter Isaacson talks about becoming emotionally invested throughout the course of writing Steve Jobs' biography. (7:16)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT THE C.E.O. OF ASPEN INSTITUTE AS WELL AS A BEST SELLING AUTHOR.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED "STEVE JOBS." PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM WALTER ISAACSON.

SIR --

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

>> THANK YOU.

GREAT TO BE BACK HERE.

>> Jon: THE BOOK IS "STEVE JOBS" HOW DIFFICULT IS IT?

YOU ARE WRITING A BIOGRAPHY FOR SOMEONE THAT YOU KNOW IS ILL --

>> YES.

>> Jon: AND WOULD LIKE THIS TO BE ON THE RECORD BUT HOW DO YOU REMINE OBJECTIVE?

>> IT'S REALLY HARD.

I WAS HOPING WHEN I LAST TALKED TO HIM A MONTH OR SO BEFORE HE DIED.

HE SAID I'LL READ IT IN A YEAR OR SO.

HE SAID I DON'T WANT TO READ WHIT IT COMES OUT BECAUSE IT WILL ANNOY ME.

HE HAS A WAY OF MAGICAL THINKING.

OH, GREAT, HE WILL BE AROUND A YEAR AND HE WILL BITE MY HEAD OFF.

YOU KEEP THAT IN MIND.

I GOT EMOTIONALLY, MORE THAN YOU NORMALLY DO AS A JOURNALIST INVOLVED IN THIS.

>> Jon: YOU TALK ABOUT THE BOOK AND PEOPLE INTERVIEWED ABOUT HIS REALITY DISTORTION.

>> TOTALLY.

>> Jon: THAT HE CREATES THIS AURA OF YOU CAN -- HE CONVINCES HIMSELF AND OTHER PEOPLE THEY

CAN ACCOMPLISH THINGS THAT THEY DID NOT THINK WERE POSSIBLE.

>> HE BASICALLY TELLS PEOPLE,

YOU CAN DO.

THIS YOU CAN CODE THIS IN FOUR DAYS, NOT FOUR MONTHS.

THEY CALLED IT THE REALITY DISTORTION.

THIS IS IN THE OLD DAYS OF APPLE DOING THE FIRST MAC.

THE ODE THING ABOUT STEVE WOZNIAK AND OTHERS SAY HE ENDED UPPING BEING RIGHT.

WOE PUSH PEOPLE TO DO INSANELY GREAT THINGS SIMPLY BY MAKING THEM BELIEVE THEY COULD DO THE IMPOSSIBLE.

>> Jon: A REALLY INTERESTING THING IN THE BOOK IS OUR OFTEN STEVE JOBS CRIES.

>> HE IS AWESOMELY EMOTIONAL.

THIS WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE TO ME.

>> Jon: HE IS A WEEPER.

>> I WAS WITH HIM ONCE AND HE WAS TELLING ME -- I DON'T KNOW IF YOU REMEMBER THE THINK

DIFFERENT ADS, HERE IS THE CRAZY ONES, THE PEOPLE WHO CAN CHANGE THE WORLD AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE

CRAZY ENOUGH TO THINK THEY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.

>> Jon: I REMEMBER THERE WAS AN AD WITH A GENTLEMAN WHO WAS A PC AND THE OTHER WAS A MAC.

THE PC WAS A TERRIBLY UNLIKABLE FELLOW.

GOOD AD.

>> HE IS READING ME THAT SCRIPT.

I LOOKED UP AND HE IS CRYING.

HE SAID EXCUSE ME BUT I JUST GET VERY EMOTIONAL.

THIS IS -- WHEN I'M IN THE HUSBANDS OF ARTISTIC PURITY.

HE CONNECTS EMOTION TO TECHNOLOGY.

THIS IS WHY THE OUTPOURING OF GRIEF AT HIS DEATH WAS BEYOND WHAT MOST WOULD HAVE EXPECTED.

>> Jon: HOW MUCH OF THAT -- IN THE BOOK YOU GET THE SENSE AT TIMES FROM SOME OF THE PEOPLE

THAT THE CRYING OF A MANIPULATION.

THAT IS THE -- PART OF WHAT HE DID WAS HE TRIED TO CONTROL -- HE HAD THE ZEN STARE HE WOULD

USE ON PEOPLE OR THE CRY -- YOU GET THE SENSE THAT THEY WEREN'T

SURE SOMETIMES IF HE WAS TRYING TO MANIPULATE.

>> THE ZEN STARE.

HE COULD STARE WITHOUT BLINKING.

THAT WAS REALLY POWERFUL.

I ACTUALLY BELIEVE THE EMOTIONALISM CAME IF A DEEP PASSION FOR ARTISTIC THINGSISM

NEVER FELT IT WAS MANIPULATE TISM MAYBE I'M WRONG.

>> Jon: THE REALITY DISTORTION.

THAT'S RIGHT.

OF.

[ LAUGHTER ]

>> Jon: REALLY STRIKES YOU THAT SO MANY EVENTS HAD TO COME TOGETHER FOR THIS TO ALL WORK OUT.

SO MANY DIFFERENT INFLUENCES.

I WONDER DID YOU EVER DECONSTRUCT IT AND THINK IF THIS HASN'T HAVE HAPPENED AND HE

HADN'T IMBURSED HIMSELF IN BUDDHISM AND MET WOZNIAK WOULD THIS HAVE COME TOGETHER?

IT'S AMAZING THE COINCIDENCES THAT COME TOGETHER INCLUDING THE BIG CONFLEWENCE WHICH IS HIS

LIFE AND THE SOUL OF APPLE WHICH IS THE COUNTER CULTURE, YOU KNOW, ALTERNATIVE, HIPPY-STILL

OF THE 60s AND EARLY 70s AND THEN THE ELECTRONIC GEEKY BUSINESS LET'S DO A START UP

SILICON VALLEY STUFF ALL COME TOGETHER IN STEVE JOBS.

THAT IS THE ARC OF IT THE PASSION FOR THE ROW MANTISM THAT GETS SERIOUS.

WEIRD COINCIDENCES LIKE HIS BIRTH FATHER GIVING HIM UP.

HE NEVER FOUND HIM AND FINALLY WITH THE HELP OF HIS SISTER MONA SIMPSON HE TRACKS DOWN THE BIRTH

FATHER AND FINDS OUT EVEN THOUGH HE IS FROM SYRIA AND STUDIED IN WISCONSIN BY HE MOVED TO

CALIFORNIA AND RAN A RESTAURANT AND STEVE HAD BEEN IN THE RESTAURANT.

I DON'T KNOW THERE'S A CERTAIN BUDDHIST CONFLEWENCE OR COINCIDENCE.

>> Jon: EVEN HIS ADOPTED FATHER S A MEK CANTIC BUT -- MECHANIC BUT SOMEBODY HE LEARNED

TOLL BARGAIN PRICES ON.

A PRAGMATIC, PRACTICAL GUY.

WHAT JOBS BROUGHT THAT WOZNIAK DIDN'T HAVE WAS A SENSE TO MAKE IT WORK AS A BUSINESS.

A PRACTICAL AND PRAGMATIC OPERATION.

>> WOZNIAK IS A WONDERFUL GUY.

HE IS THERE AND CREATES AMAZING CIRCUIT BOARD THAT BECOMES THE APPLE 1.

HE IS HANDING OUT SPECS FOR IT FOR FREE.

AND STEVE IS SAYING, STEVE JOBS IS SAYING, WAIT A MINUTE WE CAN MAKE IT AND SELL IT.

THEY DID IT EARLIER WITH SOMETHING CALLED THE BLUE BOX WHICH ALLOWED PEOPLE TO MAKE

FREE PHONECALLS BY REPLICATING THE TONES.

WOZ IS GIVING IT OUT.

HE SAID NO LET'S MARKET IT.

THAT CONFLEWENCE, TOO, OF THE ELECTRONICS ANT BUSINESS.

>> Jon: THERE'S GREAT STUFF ABOUT GATES AND JOBS AND ALL THE

APPLE PEOPLE SAY WE HATED GATES.

HE HAVE NEVER GOT IT.

THE MICROSOFT PEOPLE SAID JOBS WAS CRAZY.

>> THEY WERE ALL RIGHT AT SOME LEVEL.

WHAT IT WAS WAS THESE -- IN ASTRONG MI WE CALL THE A BINARY STAR SYSTEM WHERE STARS ARE LINKED.

THIS DIGITAL AGE THE TWO COLLEGE DROPOUTS BORN IN 1955.

STEVE JOBS AND BILL GATES.

UNBELIEVABLY DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES.

STEVE IS MISS CALL ARTISTIC COMES FROM THE COUNTER CULTURE.

BILL GATES IS AWESOMELY SMART WITH THAT PROCESSOR SMARTNESS TO HIM AND MAKES A GREAT BUSINESS

MODEL BUT NEVER MAKES THE ARTISTIC PRODUCTS N. END HE MAKES THE ZUNE AND STEVE MAKES THE iPOD.

[ LAUGHTER ]

>> Jon: THAT IS THE BEST EULOGY I HAVE EVER HEARD.

>> BILL GATES IS A GOOD GUY AND STEVE THOUGHT HE WAS A GOOD GUY.

>> Jon: ONE GUY MADE THE ZUNE AND THE OTHER MADE THE iPOD.

GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY.

I WOULD SAY STEVE JOBS IS ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW BUT THE WAY THEY

ARE SELLING I DON'T KNOW THAT'S THE CASE.

YOU CAN GET.

"STEVE JOBS." MR.

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