The Genius of Jobs

Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, writes in the NY Times:

The ability to merge creativity with technology depends on one’s ability to be emotionally attuned to others. Mr. Jobs could be petulant and unkind in dealing with other people, which caused some to think he lacked basic emotional awareness. In fact, it was the opposite. He could size people up, understand their inner thoughts, cajole them, intimidate them, target their deepest vulnerabilities, and delight them at will. He knew, intuitively, how to create products that pleased, interfaces that were friendly, and marketing messages that were enticing.

He seems at first to be praising Jobs’ empathy, but ends up describing a psychopath. Only by not feeling the emotions of others can one learn to ruthlessly manipulate them. Ironically, the lack of empathy is actually a great enabler of creativity. Thinking differently threatens and upsets people. To be creative you need to not give a damn what anyone else thinks or feels.

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One Comment

  1. Sean McDirmid
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Social groups tend to suppress individual creativity for a group creativity (culture). Caring less for the social group will unlock ones own creativity; most artists are willing outcasts. The social group still defines your context, your creativity is still influenced by the people you decide to hang around.

    There are many ways to achieve this freedom. First, a psychopath can manipulate a social group to his own end without caring about its well being (an assault on culture at its core). Autism makes one unaware of the social reality allowing them to march to their own drummer (if unwillingly, they would rather be loved then different). A crank will willingly reject the social group (they don’t try to manipulate it).

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