Fifty years after he helped his father build a fence around their house in Mountain View, Steve Jobs took his biographer Walter Isaacson to see it. Jobs skimmed his hand along one of the fence panels and told Isaacson the lesson his father instilled in him that day all those years ago. “He loved doing things right,” Jobs said as he directed Isaacson’s attention to the back of the fencel. “He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.” A great carpenter, Jobs learned early, wouldn’t use an ugly piece of wood, even on the back of a drawer.
Even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
This was the defining characteristic of Jobs’ career and every product he brought into the world: craftsmanship. If you’re going to make something, Jobs’ father taught him, make it beautiful. That’s why even the insides of Apple computers—which 99.9% of customers will never see—have their own aesthetic. It’s why so many features on Apple computers, even the minor ones, seem oddly satisfying and intuitive.
The Stoics would have nodded in agreement. Marcus talked about seeing the beauty in the things easy to overlook, like the ordinary way that “baking bread splits in places and those cracks, while not intended in the baker’s art, catch our eye and serve to stir our appetites.” It’s why Meditations, which was never intended for another set of eyes, is still perfectly written. In Greek no less! “Beautiful things of any kind,” Marcus explained, “are beautiful in themselves and sufficient to themselves.”
This is a philosophy we try to follow at Daily Stoic. While it’d be cheaper, for instance, to produce our challenge coins overseas, each coin is handcrafted in the United States by a custom mint that has been operating in Minnesota since 1882. Why? Because they make them better, because they’ve perfected a formula over the last century and a half. When we did The Daily Stoic, it would have been cheaper and faster for the publisher to produce it like every other book. Instead, the lay flat binding and the ribbon took extra time, even a specialty printer.
Our new leather edition of The Obstacle is the Way—the book that introduced millions of readers to Stoic philosophy—was equally painstaking. We found the best Bible manufacturer in the United States and worked with them to produce an edition of Obstacle with a gold foil-stamped cover, gilded-edge pages printed on premium-grade paper at their factory in Belarus. We found a great designer to create all-new illustrations to delineate each section of the book. It took months to produce. It took months to watch as it traveled by container ship across the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and into the Port of New Orleans. We tracked with bated breath as the books traveled up the Mississippi River to Chicago, where they were then packaged with the letterpressed note signed by Ryan Holiday. Then we paired each one with our The Obstacle is the Way challenge coin, which as we said before is handcrafted the same way the AA sobriety medallions have been for nearly six decades.
The point is: If you’re going to do something, you should do it right. If you’re going to make something, make it beautiful. This is important advice in business, but also in life. You only get one go at this thing called existence. Are you going to do it shoddily? Are you going to produce shoddy things? Or are you going to put in the time? Are you going to be a craftsman? Are even the parts people don’t see going to meet the standards that you believe in? Are you going to delight, as Epictetus said, in your own improvement day to day?
We hope so. Become a master…of all you do.
By the way, it’s fitting that Steve Jobs learned this lesson from his father because Father’s Day is just two weeks away. Our leather-bound edition of The Obstacle is the Way is now on sale! What makes this edition so special?
- Genuine leather. Genuine leather cover with all-new foil stamped logo.
- Custom box. A hardbound box specifically made for this book with a foil logo.
- Premium paper. 80gsm Munken cream paper, one of the top papers available for books
- Endsheets & Ribbon. Vinyl endsheets and a sewn ribbon to mark your page
- New illustrations. All-new illustrations for each section of the book
- Letter from the author. Each book comes with a letterpressed note from Ryan Holiday
- The Obstacle is the Way challenge coin. Each book comes with The Obstacle is the Way challenge coin
The content inside this premium edition has not changed. It is the same book beloved by men and women around the world, including NBA legend Chris Bosh, PGA Champion Rory McIlroy, NBC sportscaster Michele Tafoya, pop star Camila Cabello, former U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and the coaches and players of winning teams like the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, and Chicago Cubs. The difference is this edition features a level of quality that is simply not possible with mass produced books.
The first production run has only a limited quantity, so do not miss your chance to buy this beautiful new edition of The Obstacle is the Way! To order your copy, head over to dailystoic.com/obstacleleather. If you order TODAY, it will arrive in time and make for the perfect Father’s Day gift. Please note: if you live outside the U.S., we cannot make any guarantees about when your order will arrive.