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  • Recreating the Brain of a Visionary

    It is surprisingly difficult being a genius in corporate America.

    Just how essential is a company’s visionary founder? Apple and Google are about to find out.

    A chair crashed on the tile floor as a skinny young man rushed over to our table at Michela’s, a hot restaurant in Cambridge, Mass. It was Steve Jobs, then just 29 years old, and his haste was not to meet me but to salute my guest, Polaroid founder Edwin Land.

    I was surprised to see how enthusiastically the enfant terrible greeted the 76-year-old Land. I was even more surprised that Land didn’t recognize Jobs. He awkwardly returned Jobs’s greeting by introducing me: “This is Dr. Sonnenfeld … an expert in CEO succession …you know, drawing organization charts with lots of boxes. And how do I know you?” Still smarting from his recent ouster as CEO of Apple, Jobs sat down and replied, “Dr. Land, I am Steve Jobs and I started a company called Apple but I now run a business called NeXT.

    I think it’s too late for me to learn about succession.” After Jobs left, Land commented, “That Jobs is a bright young man … but he’ll never make it back. He’s a marketer but doesn’t really know his own technology.” Of course, Jobs did make it back, and then some, taking Apple’s stock from $3 to $350. Now his latest medical leave stemming from a liver transplant has many worried about how Apple can thrive without him. Land, meanwhile, left his company directionless in changing winds.

    It is surprisingly difficult being a genius in corporate America. Unbridled (mostly) capitalism makes it possible for a unique few to take an idea, turn it into a company—and, every once in a while, change the world. Along the way, they enrich all of us: consumers who get great products, investors who benefit from big returns, and citizens who need their nation’s economy to compete on the global stage. But once these visionaries have moved on, their creations often struggle to retain the founders’ magic.

    Read More:

    http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/23/the-genius-dilemma.html

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    Filed Under: Gamechangers

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