Thursday, October 6, 2011

Genius! (Really)

There are some words that just get overused to the point of losing much of their meaning.

Hero. Role model. Cute.

To name a few.

Oh, and "genius," which I am convinced most of the people who use it couldn't even properly define it for you.

But there are also times when those overused, borderline hackneyed words and phrases are quite apt and can, for that precise moment, be used like a square peg in a square hole.

We lost a genius yesterday.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc. who passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer at age 56, was a genius. He was every bit of one as Edison and Einstein and Fermi.

What is genius, then?

Part of it is affecting people's everyday lives, for the better. Whether you embrace technology or not, you'll sound foolish if you try to argue that Jobs' computer chip-based creations didn't positively impact the vast majority of the people who used them.

Jobs started Apple in his garage, the story famously goes. That's in line with genius, too; so many of our greatest inventors have rags-to-riches, overcoming-the-odds stories to tell.

And, like how Edison wasn't just the guy who invented the light bulb, Jobs can't be known just for Apple Computers and all its bi-products. His reach extended into the world of entertainment through his work with Pixar Studios and his involvement with the Walt Disney Company.


Jobs, in the early-1980s


What else is genius?

It's taking elements that had always been there and making something useful out of it. The computer as Jobs founded it could have been created years or even decades before; the materials were there, for the most part.

But it wasn't.

Genius is also being a visionary and not letting anything get in the way of that vision. It's imagining greatness when all that is before you are boards, chips and a soldering gun.

Genius is having as much of an eye for business as you do for creation.

And genius is anticipating what people 5-10 years from now are going to want, and making sure they have it---and then some.

Genius is someone like Steve Jobs. It's safe to say that we may not see his kind again, because everything from now on is just a continuation of what Jobs started.

No, Edison and Einstein and Fermi have nothing on Steve Jobs.

They all had their time, which is all anyone can ask.

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