Isaacson discusses thinking outside the box

Sara Blair Matthews
News Writer

Walter Isaacson commented on innovative historical figures, the importance of education and the future of technology in his conversation with Jim Cramer on Oct. 27 in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. The event took place at 9 a.m. and was featured in the University’s Homecoming Weekend activity lineup. The majority of the conversation focused on Isaacson’s new biography “Steve Jobs.”

“Bucknell connects the liberal arts with technology. People who understand both have the key to success,” Isaacson said.

Isaacson touched heavily on how Steve Jobs viewed the world as well as how he has shaped his company. In regards to the upcoming election, Jobs said he was fed up with the Democratic party and its disregard for businesses. Jobs believed that businesses are the backbone for creating jobs, and he thought that the government’s unnecessary regulations make it difficult to conduct business.

“If you have a real passion for your products, it triumphs a passion for profit,” Isaacson said about Jobs.

With Apple, every four to five years Jobs tried to do something out of the box. He also decided to focus on four products to ensure they were beautifully crafted and correctly executed. Jobs saw himself as an artist and insisted on maintaining the integrity of his products, even when it meant a lost profit.

“I learned from my dad that when you’re an artist, you care about the parts that are unseen,” Jobs said to Isaacson.

“As an owner of Apple products, I found Walter Isaacson’s discussion about his Steve Jobs biography to be very thoughtprovoking. I hadn’t thought about my MacBook Pro or iPod Nano in the ways that Mr. Isaacson described, which is essentially that my laptop is a product of the convergence of the liberal arts and the sciences, which both Steve Jobs and Isaacson value deeply. In retrospect, I totally agree,” Josh Wilson ’15 said.

Isaacson also relayed that it was very difficult for him to remain unbiased throughout his interviewing process with Jobs.

“You become emotionally wrapped up and know a thousand times more about everything,” Isaacson said. “You rarely get the opportunity to know what somebody is thinking.”

“This lecture gave me much more respect for Steve Jobs and his legacy. I never gave much thought into what goes into making Apple products, and now I have much more appreciation for the company as a whole,” Sam Robinson ’15 said.

Isaacson also talked about the commonalities between the subjects of his biographies.

“All three [Jobs, Franklin and Einstein] thought out of the box,” Isaacson said. “Franklin was an innovator on many levels … and Einstein’s fingerprints are on everything–space travel, television, lasers, the atomic bomb, etc.”

Isaacson, chairman of the board of Teach for America, commended the University for its strong contribution to the program.

“Bucknell boosts creativity, and it is one of the biggest schools for Teach for America,” Isaacson said.

Isaacson argued that even though our higher education system is still the strongest in the world, our elementary and secondary systems have dropped dramatically in rankings over the past fifty years.

“Now our education system is seventeenth or eighteenth on the international rankings, and the gap is widening … every kid deserves a decent shot to be educated and to succeed,” Isaacson said. “The transformation of education will come from innovation. America is like a gyroscope. Just when you think it’s going to turn over, it turns back.”

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