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Lisa Brennan-Jobs on Growing Up as Steve Jobs’ Daughter (ep. 216)

Lisa Brennan-Jobs

John O’Leary welcomes Lisa Brennan-Jobs to the Live Inspired Podcast to share about the complicated relationship with her iconic father Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs is widely recognized as one of the most influential inventors of our time, pioneering the personal computer, the iPod and iPhone.

Yet his eldest daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs often remembers a painful childhood spent seeking recognition, acceptance and approval from Apple’s visionary leader.

Today, Lisa courageously opens up about the complicated relationship with her iconic father, how taking a decade to write her memoir Small Fry was therapeutic and what she wishes her father would have told her before his death.

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  • Lisa’s mother, artist Chrisann Brennan, insisted that Lisa understand her story to prevent repeating it.
  • “I found solace in writing things I wanted no one ever to know about.”
  • Lisa shares that the memories of her childhood were deeply woven in with emotions and had to first process those feelings before she was factually clear on events.
  • The relationship between her mother and father was just ending when Lisa was born.
  • Case 239948: The state ordered Steve to pay for back welfare payments and child support. After months of delays, Steve suddenly agreed to pay a larger monthly allowance just days before Apple went public, and Steve became worth over $200 million.
  • Longing to belong: “When he was in a good space, he was so sweet. It’s hard to balance all the cruelty and difficulty with his sweetness.”
  • At 27, Lisa learned that the Apple Lisa was, in fact, named after her, something Steve denied for years.
  • “I’d take five extra really good hours with my father over the iPhone.”
  • Even if you can’t change someone’s perspective, acknowledge it.
  • Get a copy of Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir Small Fry here.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, listen to Live Inspired Podcast ep. 19 with William Paul Young. Paul shares he moved past his trauma and learned to embrace his faults. Listen to ep. 19 here.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.

2. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today? I was bossier then.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? One of my mother’s paintings.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? I’d have one more conversation with my father. Not because he was famous.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Go all out,” from my therapist when I was younger.

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Keep on working in the direction of what you love. No shortcuts. Make lots of new friends. Date kind men.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? She was big-hearted, powerful, a force! She contributed greatly to the lives of many many people, including huge numbers of children.


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