COLUMN: Brains are good– brains and charm are better

Branden Labarowski | Staff Writer

On August 24, 2011, Steve Jobs, in the midst of a long bout with pancreatic cancer, resigned from his position as the CEO of Apple Inc.

What does this mean to me?

Well, as a Windows user, not a lot. But for our society as a whole, it’s significant. Steve Jobs is the epitome of the modern-day visionary—not because of his intelligence or his dedication, but because of the sheer lack of work he’s been able to build an $8.3 billion empire on.

When Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne and Steve Wozniak first banded together to form Apple, Job’s didn’t actually do a lot of work. Instead, it was Wozniak who built and programmed the “Apple I” entirely by hand. And, needless to say, he doesn’t get any respect for it.

Although everybody remembers Steve Jobs, nobody remembers Steve Wozniak. It’s a bit sad that the smart, passionate employee of the partnership has faded into obscurity while the money-grubbing salesman has achieved worldwide fame. But it’s also a bit realistic.

As I enter my senior year, I can’t help but think that I’ve spent a disturbing amount of my high school career sitting in the back and keeping quiet. I’m pleased with how my GPA is turning out, but I’m beginning to realize that conventional intelligence isn’t the only thing that matters on college and job applications. If I had dared to get more involved and take a greater leadership role, I wouldn’t just be a more marketable person—I’d also be more at terms with myself.

Maybe, I’d even grow up to be the next Steve Jobs. I get the feeling that, when Jobs was a student, he probably wasn’t an overachieving nerd who channeled every ounce of his energy into acing his optional Pre-Calc homework. Instead, he probably spent class time cracking jokes, talking with friends and in general thinking about everything in the world but Pre-Calc. After all, Jobs was never a genius so much as he was the perfect “mascot” for his company, an individualistic leader who put the “I” in iPod.

In the cutthroat corporate world we live in, the real top dogs aren’t the Steve Wozniaks, the passionate ones who toil away night after night to get by. It might seem unfair, but most often it’s the charismatic Steve Jobs figureheads who rise above the faceless numbers. Now, more than ever, personality and leadership aren’t just traits—they’re invaluable skills.

There’s nothing all that wrong with being a follower; after all, the world needs its Wozniaks. But if we aim to become multi-millionaires, then it certainly wouldn’t hurt to adopt a little of that “Jobs charm.”