Exploited Geniuses

Exploited Geniuses

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.

10 Comments on this Post

  1. Spelled ‘Tesla’

  2. Well,

    I can certainly claim to be an Exploited Genius… not sure about the genius part, but I’m in the middle of transition from a very stressful existence, thanks to some very greedy Phat Cats of which I don’t really need to mention, but we all know who they are anyway, but they are the corporate type. “CONTROL” and “CREATIVITY” just don’t mix, it’s like oil and water. There can only be Creativity without control.

    Da Crunchman

  3. So, to bring a new venue for creativity, Crunch Creations might be just the answer. Whatever you create, whether it be music, video, web sites, computer programs, can all take a lot of people collaborating together.

    Coming to a browser near you, is

    Point it there in a few days from now, and learn more about what I’m doing.
    Da Crunchman

  4. At first, I almost thought the article was about John Draper. But I know there are plenty of exploited geniuses out there. This was a really good article. It’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough. Wonderful metaphor, “the thorns” and the rose !

  5. I still think there is a way out. At the beginning of the century people felt ashamed to work for someone else — only special people got jobs working for someone else. And here I am talking about America. Corporate America did not exist. At least we are in a sort of recession now, so there are more opportunities to do the business. If one can survive without a salary, then what is the point to work for someone else? Stupid people have no place to go, but to get jobs in corporate America (or even better — management jobs). Then they just screw smart people — mostly because they are afraid how they will survive without high salaries and just make smart people around feel bad.

  6. The situation itself is horrible and to put it earth shattering. That is the reason the system works for corporate and not for the dreamer. The system like Crunch put’s it is like oil and water. Your Friend has something to offer the world but he has to have a team he can trust to take him to the next level. All on his page and none with their own agenda’s of how his idea should be put to fruition. If everyone is not on the same page Miscommunication can lead disaster.

  7. Randall White

    What we will miss are the probable contributions to Information Tech that the “Blurred Orange Rose” would have created if his exploratory environment could have been sustained. The systems designer usually has idiosyncratic sensibilities that are acutely tuned to maintain the focus they need to make the endless “breakthroughs” needed for the elegant solution.

    Behind a productive developer — in today’s business climate — is usually a dedicated project manager that can act as an effective buffer for the hypersensitive developers from the sharks. Unfortunately, the best project managers (not to mention the “investors”) typically conflate their importance and usually resort to mercenary tactics to gain a disproportionate share of the budget.

    The new model might be where the developers hire and fire their own “boss.”

    In my dreams…


  8. Crunch, I believe creativity and innovation actually flourish best within a foundation of structure and support. But there is a disconnect when management expects traditional systems and developers use Agile programming…read this. Scott Ambler is a genius.

  9. As my father always reminded me: When a company who’s survival relies on innovation, has been taken over by marketing people and accountants, get out quick because there’s no turning back.


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