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‘You’re Getting Nothing’: Steve Jobs’ Daughter Wrote A Heartbreaking Memoir About Their Often Brutal Relationship

Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO, was a very skilled and successful businessman who passed away in 2011 from cancer. For most people, that’s about the extent of what’s known about him. But, as with everyone, there is much more to a person than just the basic trivia answers or top google searches.

Steve Jobs’ daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs recently wrote a memoir about her father that gives us just a bit of insight into the type of person Steve Jobs could sometimes be.

Early Rejection And Conflict

Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir, called “Small Fry,” depicts the pride and pain that she felt to have a multimillionaire as a father, and the rejection that she and her mother often received from him.

Jobs’ relationship with his daughter started off on the wrong foot from birth when he denied paternity and refused to pay child-support. Lisa and her mother Chrisann Brennan were forced to move from place to place in order to survive on Chrisann’s salary from house cleaning and waitressing.

When Lisa was 2 years old the district attorney of San Mateo County forced Jobs to take a DNA test and produce child support. The test showed a 94.4% match, but no one was surprised.

Throughout her childhood the most interaction Lisa had with her father was a monthly visit to skate around the neighborhood together. Although Lisa remembers anxiously anticipating these short moments with her father, she remembers that the moments were filled with mostly silence and a “strange blankness.”

You’re Getting Nothing

Lisa writes in her memoir about talking to her friends about her father being Steve Jobs. She said, “I brought it up when I felt I needed to, waited as long as I could and then let it burst forth.”

She also recalls her father’s black Porsche, which she was told he replaced every time it got a scratch. One night she decided to ask him if she could have one when he got rid of it. She remembers that his reply “hurt—sharp, in my chest,” she wrote.

“You’re not getting anything,” she remembers he said. “You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.”

She went on to explain. “By that time I knew he was not generous with money, or food, or words,” she wrote.

The Computer Named Lisa

Lisa also makes mentions about the Apple Lisa, a failed precursor for the Macintosh computer. Jobs named the Lisa after his daughter’s birth, but when she confronted him about it and asked if it was named after her, he responded curtly. “Nope. Sorry kid,” was his reply.

However, later on in the memoir, the Lisa computer is brought up again when Lisa is 27 years old and receives a rare invitation to join Jobs, Lisa’s stepmom and siblings on a holiday in the Mediterranean. Jobs took the family to visit a friend of his, the U2 frontman Bono.

Upon meeting Lisa, Bono asked Jobs whether the Apple Lisa had been named after his daughter. After a long pause, Jobs replied with, “Yeah, it was.” Lisa remembers what this moment meant to her. “I felt a new power that pulled my chest up.”

The Final Years

During Jobs’ final years of declining health, Lisa recalls visiting him every other month or so for a weekend. She wrote, “I had given up on the possibility of a grand reconciliation, the kind in the movies, but I kept coming anyway.”

To avoid having to face her stepmother and siblings, she wandered the house and ended up in the bathroom, spraying herself with some of his expensive rose facial mist. When she finally went in to say goodbye to her dad, she remembers his parting words were, “You smell like a toilet.”

She wrote about how backwards their relationship seemed. “For him,” she said, “I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself. My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: The closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light.”


These stories are just a small part of the published excerpt of Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir, but even so it is heartbreaking. In the excerpt, Lisa gives no reasoning behind Jobs’ behavior toward herself and her mother. And perhaps she never knew the reason, or there was never one reason in particular that brought about such brutal behavior. But the takeaway, perhaps, is that no matter the reason, everyone deserves to see kindness rather than cruelty.

Written by Emilyn Gil

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