38 Walter Isaacson Quotes to Get You Thinking Differently

Walter Isaacson is an analyst, journalist, historian, and professor.

He is also the author of many biographical books including Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Einstein.

Isaacson has an incredible ability to analyze the greatest minds ever lived and portray their genius in insightful ways.

In this article, I share many of his quotes that demonstrate his unique perspective on mastering business, success, creativity and brilliance.

38 Quotes by Walter Isaacson

  1. “I’ve asked Jobs why he didn’t get an operation then and he said, ‘I didn’t want my body to be opened. I didn’t want to be violated in that way.” – Walter Isaacson
  2. “More generally, I made an effort to leave out things that weren’t relevant to the main narrative themes of the book, namely that there were two sides to Steve Jobs: the romantic, poetic, countercultural rebel on one side, and the serious business person on the other.” – Walter Isaacson
  3. “I think it’s really good that you have great competition among news networks, and for that matter all the networks in general. It’s bringing more and more people into watching the news.” – Walter Isaacson
  4. “We have to compete in a universe of 200 networks, so we have to carve out our own niche, and to me, that niche is just basic shoe-leather journalism with some good journalists at the helm you can trust as presenters.” – Walter Isaacson
  5. “Especially right after 9/11. Especially when the war in Afghanistan is going on. There was a real sense that you don’t get that critical of a government that’s leading us in wartime.” – Walter Isaacson
  6. “I think that we shouldn’t be fixated all the time on the ups and downs of the weekly ratings, of the quarter-hour ratings.” – Walter Isaacson
  7. “I don’t think there was enough skepticism because I think most of us kind of believed that Saddam Hussein was building biological, chemical, and perhaps even, nuclear weapons.” – Walter Isaacson
  8. “Yeah, I think that his great creation was not anyone product but a company in which creativity was connected to great engineering. And that will survive at least while the current people who trained under Steve are there.” – Walter Isaacson
  9. “I actually think Bill Gates is conventionally smarter, even though it’s a dumb word, but mental processing power – I’ve watched him use four different screens, process information, get to the right answer, boom boom boom.” – Walter Isaacson
  10. “For some people, miracles serve as evidence of God’s existence.” – Walter Isaacson
  11. “Just being the seeker, somebody whose open to spiritual enlightenment, is in itself the important thing and it’s the reward for being a seeker in this world.” – Walter Isaacson
  12. “Steve Jobs was never going to let Flash on any Apple product again like that after in 1997 – he’s got a long memory – they said no and Bill Gates said yes.” – Walter Isaacson
  13. “In the age of the internet when everybody’s a pundit, we’re still gonna need somebody there to go talk to the colonels, to be on the ground in Baghdad and stuff and that’s very expensive.” – Walter Isaacson
  14. “I think it is valuable and should be valued by its consumers. Charging for content forces discipline on journalists: they must produce things that people actually value.” – Walter Isaacson
  15. “And if you don’t have your ears open, you’re not going to be able to figure out what you should be doing.” – Walter Isaacson
  16. “I have a strong emotional respect for Steve.” – Walter Isaacson
  17. “I’ve always had an abundance of material about the subjects of my biographies.” – Walter Isaacson
  18. “I think right now we need to look back at the founding values of our country. Rise above partisanship, be less bitter when it comes to important matters that have to be solved.” – Walter Isaacson
  19. “You can’t have a sustainable US economy without a great education system. Teach students to do the job right. You don’t have an innovative economy unless you have a great education.” – Walter Isaacson
  20. “We are in a situation with the huge stimulus package that’s going to be spent all across this nation and a big financial crisis and banking crisis. And what we need is good, trained journalists who can play the role of watchdog.” – Walter Isaacson
  21. “I think one problem we’ve had is that people who are smart and creative and innovative as engineers went into financial engineering.” – Walter Isaacson
  22. “I think that Benjamin Franklin felt very strongly in foreign policy in this world, that you needed to at least show some humility, especially when you were strong.” – Walter Isaacson
  23. “He said, ‘From then on, I realized that I was not just abandoned. I was chosen. I was special.’ And I think that’s the key to understanding Steve Jobs.” – Walter Isaacson
  24. “Smart people are a dime a dozen. What matters is the ability to think differently, to think outside of the box.” – Walter Isaacson
  25. “I visited Jobs for the last time in his Palo Alto, Calif., home. He had moved to a downstairs bedroom because he was too weak to go up and downstairs. He was curled up in some pain, but his mind was still sharp and his humor vibrant.” – Walter Isaacson
  26. “When there are multiple versions of a story, you really have three ways to go. You can pick the most sensational version. You can try to balance things in your gut to get to what you think is the honest truth. Or you can err on the side of kindness.” – Walter Isaacson
  27. “What Einstein was able to do was – to use a cliche – think out of the box.” – Walter Isaacson
  28. “I think when you’re looking for people to interview, you want to make it fair and honest. You’re not just bringing people on so you can beat them up or, you know, make fools out of them or something.” – Walter Isaacson
  29. “One of the great pressures we’re facing in journalism now is it’s a lot cheaper to hire thumb suckers and pundits and have talk shows on the air than actually have bureaus and reporters.” – Walter Isaacson
  30. “I think it’s very important to have a sense of balance in covering the war, but you don’t have to be morally neutral about terrorism.” – Walter Isaacson
  31. “Terrorism is a horrible thing that is the great threat to civilization on our planet.” – Walter Isaacson
  32. “I think when money starts to corrupt journalism, it undermines the journalism, and it undermines the credibility of the product, and you end up not succeeding.” – Walter Isaacson
  33. “When you write biographies, whether it’s about Ben Franklin or Einstein, you discover something amazing: They are human.” – Walter Isaacson
  34. “You know, one of these things that happened in the ’60s and ’70s was this confluence of, sort of, a counter-culture with computer culture.” – Walter Isaacson
  35. “I do think it’s important if you’re going to be very creative, to be a seeker.” – Walter Isaacson
  36. “Jobs has within him sort of this conflict, but he doesn’t quite see it as a conflict between being hippie-ish and anti-materialistic but wanting to sell things like Wozniak’s board. Wanting to create a business.” – Walter Isaacson
  37. “Polite and velvety leaders, who take care to avoid bruising others, are generally not as effective at forcing change.” – Walter Isaacson
  38. “I think that’s exactly what Silicon Valley was all about in those days. Let’s do a startup in our parents’ garage and try to create a business.” – Walter Isaacson

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