The blurred orange rose with the thorns in front is among the favorite photos I have ever taken. It’s not your everyday rose. It’s different, unique, special and I am dedicating this blurred rose picture to the smartest man I know. To me, this photo is a metaphor of his life. You see, my genius friend didn’t fit into corporate America. Countless times he was exploited for his brain power but never once was he rewarded accordingly. He wasn’t paid enough, he wasn’t housed right, he was pressured to work too long under terrible conditions, and the business-savvy partner to whom he entrusted his digital brainchild? He profited handsomely from the life work of the inventor.
Tesla said, “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success… Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”
Inventors sacrifice to complete their creations, and they dream of the results. When the partner sold the company, not only was the technology gone, but the partner took all the money and left the country – leaving my friend high and dry, with dreams evaporated – grieving in a state of loss.
Similar things happened several times to Mr. Walking Encyclopedia until finally he quit computers and technology altogether. He chose instead to become a homeless guy that slept on the street. Perhaps in his own mind it was a better alternative because, well, at least he wasn’t a slave for someone else’s benefit.
It’s heart-wrenching. But this is what happens when corporate America exploits people who are brilliant, different and trusting. When the dollar signs are flashing, executive sharks will stop at nothing to destroy the reputation of the geniuses (who trusted them) to justify their own unjust enrichment. They minimize the significance of the inventors’ contribution and instead focus on the thorns. Using their spin, they even enlist the help of others in taking advantage of the precious orange rose, further blurring the beauty of what might have been.
No wonder my friend from Palo Alto disappeared into the oblivion. Rather than stand tall and proud like a sunflower on a hill for his special contribution to the world, no one can find him.
His blossom has been hidden from the world.
Those who create original products are the most valuable people in the economic chain.
They should be cultivated, nurtured, honored, credited and paid a whole lot more than executives.
If enough of us see things for what they are and do something about it,
maybe someday we will get it right.