This kind of hero worship can be a good thing, it can be a guiding light. But this has also given rise to the dramatic oversimplification of entire lives. Headlines like “8 Ways to Think Like Warren Buffett” and “The Socratic Method of Great Living” garner retweets and clicks but they create a terrible feedback loop of writers cherry picking moments from someone’s life, distilling it all down to a blog post or even a book, and then a willing reader to believe that advice is the key to success.
What happens is we have wantrepreneurs and armchair creatives thinking they are walking in the footsteps of the greats by focusing on “productivity hacks” instead of, you know, doing the work.
Even our modern day tycoons are not immune. Square founder Jack Dorsey copied Steve Jobs to an almost comical degree, believing it would make him a better entrepreneur. In Hatching Twitter, Nick Bilton writes about Dorsey’s obsession:
During one discussion with a well-known Apple designer who had been hired at Square, Jack heard that Jobs didn’t consider himself a CEO but rather an “editor.” Soon Jack started referring to himself as “the editor, not just the CEO” of Square. During one talk to employees, he announced: “I’ve often spoken to the editorial nature of what I think my job is. I think I’m just an editor.” Jack started saying “No one has ever done this before” about his products, an exact quote from a Jobs interview in early 2010 at a conference. Jack then adopted Jobs’s terms to describe new Square features, words like “magical, ”“surprise, ” and “delightful, ” all of which Jobs had used onstage at Apple events.