oPtion$: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs
A Parody by Fake Steve Jobs
(Da Capo Press; $22.95)
During the Center for Automotive Research’s (www.cargroup.org) Management Briefing Seminar this past August, there was an astonishing number of speakers who cited Apple with the kind of respect and admiration that is uncommon, especially when one takes into account the fact that typically people at automotive conferences don’t talk about anything other than automobiles (or themselves, if they’re in the consulting business). Every now and then there is a citation of Boeing, but that’s another story.
Apple’s product development. Apple’s design. Apple’s return from the dead. Apple’s creation of markets. Apple’s Appleness.
Actually, I felt pretty good about all of the run that the company was getting, not because I happen to be an Applephile (actually, “Fake Steve Jobs” would undoubtedly consider me to be a “frigtard,” as this is being composed on a Windows machine), but because we had actually run a picture of the iPhone on the cover of our August issue (August 2007), so there is a bit of validation for us.
Most of us imagine that the direction and vision of the Real Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, Apple bounced out of the basket, Apple back in and on top, Apple maestro, are what has made the company so phenomenally successful. Given Jobs’s visibility and character, which seem rather, um, different than those of most chief executives that many of us are aware of (we’re talking public persona here; there’s no accounting for what is happening otherwise), he is a ripe target for some skewering. Which is what happened on a blog, “The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs” (http://fakesteve.blogspot.com), which has morphed into a book, oPtion$, which is easily one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. As it turns out, Fake Steve is actually Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes. While one might think that anyone working for the self-proclaimed “Capitalist’s Tool” might be somewhat more reverential to someone who is spinning off great wealth, it is hard to imagine how Lyons could be any more irreverent (e.g.,—and it’s almost overwhelming trying to pick just one example—“Thing is, I should hate Bono, if only because he stole my shtick—mendacity and avarice disguised with false modesty and lots of noise about wanting to make the world a better place . . .”).
Consider: “I’m often asked about my management style, especially since I gave that amazing commencement speech at Stanford”—which you can find here: http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html—“and everyone realized what an incredibly deep thinker I am. I’ve seen those Internet rumors about how I didn’t really write that speech, how I hired some ghostwriter. All I can say is: Please. The guy fixed some grammar errors and punched it up a bit. But I’m the one who spent half a day in Longs Drug Store reading Hallmark cards to gather material.” Which leads Fake Steve to provide some of his management tips, as in:
Actually, there is a plot to this book, which has to do with the backdating of some stock options. But the plot is not merely secondary or tertiary; it merely provides the basis for FSJ to make what are almost always exceedingly outrageous observations. As he notes, “One of my great strengths—maybe my greatest strength—is that I never listen to anything that anyone else says.”
One of Fake Steve Jobs’s observations makes me wonder whether Apple would have gotten quite so much laudable attention at the Management Briefing Seminar had it been widely known: “Look at the crappy cars that get made in Detroit, where nobody ever gets fired.” Some people might say that there’s nothing satirical about the second half of that sentence.—GSV