Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Fresh Slice of Sugarloaf
Most people see Steve Jobs as a business genius, but I'm tempted to believe he didn't earn success. Success came to him because of who was around him, and it came despite his flawed personality and warped sense of reality. You surround any random shmoe with gifted people, engineers like Steve Wozniak and artists like those who created Toy Story, and they'll look magnificient. Jobs was just lucky, I'm tempted to say.
He piggybacked on the genius of Steve Wozniak to make his first million. Then Jobs hounded a team of wizards to design the Mac. The pattern continued with the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He insisted on painting the assembly line robots in his early manufacturing plants a gleaming white, despite the weight of the paint causing problems with quality. He once described the circuitboard for the NeXT as "the most beautiful circuit in existence"--to be clear, he wasn't talking about its function, but its neat array of perfectly organized wires and solders.
I say I'm tempted to believe Jobs didn't earn his success because he was clearly a major league a-hole, obsessive beyond all reasonable or practical purpose, and led toward folly by his huge ego. But that's wrong. Clearly Jobs drove the success of Apple and Pixar, and he did it by choosing and pushing the best people.
Choosing our friends and allies is a huge part of what makes us successful and happy. Being a genius, Jobs proves, is as much about emotional and social intelligence as it is about pure intellectual processing power.
Bike racers choose teams and sometimes are chosen. We're not changing history or making billions, but we are, when we align ourselves with others, making a calculation as deep and complex as any algorithm. And we can reap rewards as deep or deeper than Jobs did.
I'm glad I've ridden for two teams and in many categories in MABRA. I'm lucky to ride with new fathers who only ride once a month, men who appear out of the fog of fatherhood with a grin and a bit of extra weight, only able to ride a negotiated 90 minutes. I'm glad I ride with economists, attorneys, college students, and the homeless.
Monday twenty odd DVR clowns met up at Filter, moseyed out toward Sugarloaf, rode to the top, then rode back home. We happened to run into Bert and an NCVC group in Poolesville. I don't have Jobs' genius for picking Wozniaks and riding their genius to wealth and glory, but at least I ride with some clowns that amuse me, that push me to climb a pesky mountain now and then, and to look up, out toward the horizon and see what's going on out there.