Walt, Frank and Steve

The lives of great geniuses are often very complicated. Genius is an odd phenomenon. It visits people and very uneven amounts and often it very surprising ways.

The life experiences of three geniuses of the 20th century, in very different fields, had remarkably similar arcs. Walt Disney was a pioneer in animation, Frank Sinatra in popular music, and Steve Jobs in personal computers — three very different fields.

Yet the overarching narrative in each case was oddly similar. The early career was an example of a naive and idealistic young person achieving rapid success and recognition. Then there came a time when the young genius was cast out and betrayed, followed by a period of disillusion.

Then, some years later, there was a return to success, but with an important difference. The Disney, Sinatra and Jobs who eventually returned to triumph to build an empire was very different from the original young idealistic genius who had started out.

Each returned as a hardened and ruthless businessman. In each case there was still an appealing populist message, but now both the man and the ethos behind that message had been transformed.

The shared pattern here, once recognized, is remarkably specific. I wonder how many geniuses throughout history have had lives and careers that have followed a similar arc.

3 Responses to “Walt, Frank and Steve”

  1. Adrian says:

    Did Walt actually become a “hardened and ruthless businessman”? I was under the impression that, from a business perspective, Roy was always the enabler of Walt’s dreams.

  2. admin says:

    You and I may have read different biographies.

  3. Marvin says:

    You and I may have read different biographies.

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    Excuse me, which you read about Walt and Frank?

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