It seems like every field/occupation on the face of the planet has a resident "bad boy".
It doesn't matter if the occupation is figure skating, physics or problogging, there is always someone who doesn't quite fit in, who does things their own way, who likes to give the finger to "the man", and who everyone else likes to whisper about and secretly admire.
Well, Albert Einstein was the "bad boy" of the science world. Oh yeah, he was an outsider in his younger years, a misunderstood genius who couldn't even get an academic job (how's that for a slap in the face!), much less a doctorate in his field of expertise (ouch!).
My point is, I see in Einstein a lot of the same qualities that I see in the best internet visionaries of today.
You're out there on your own, following your own instincts, creating sites, products and services that are brand new to the world. Sometimes you'll get lucky and folks will hop on your bandwagon immediately, but most trailblazers walk the path of Einstein.
It can be mighty lonely at the cutting edge. It takes a strong person to lead and not be discouraged by opposition, and sometimes it's helpful to look at figures from the past to draw strength from their experience and courage.
Enter Albert "Bad Boy" Einstein...
Here are some Einstein-isms that I think have particular meaning for the internet visionaries and web workers of today:
1) "Imagination is more important than knowledge." So true, it's one thing to know the technical aspects of how to do something, but when you work in a creative field, imagination trumps knowledge every single time. After all, if you need more know-how in order to execute an idea, you can always learn on the fly or out-source the technical work.
2) "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." When you're creating something out of the blue, it's going to take lots-o-tweaking before you get it just right, and you have to get comfortable with not knowing the end result. Sometimes ideas take off and become extremely profitable. Other times they just flop. It's just hard to tell what's going to work and what doesn't, so you need to always expect that something will work, but not be too upset when it doesn't.
3) "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds." I think that when you look at opposition (folks who make fun of you or people who just don't "get" you) in the right light, it can be a major motivator. You want to show them your vision, show them that you know what you're doing. The trick is to turn negativity into positive momentum. Opposition makes victory taste sweeter. :-)
4) "The only real valuable thing is intuition." You need to develop a "gut feel" that will help you detect if a person, idea or situation is healthy for you. Those who have the best intuition have the greatest success.
5) "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Einstein's creativity was heavily influenced by a thinking techinque he called "thought experiments", which was actually just plain old fashioned daydreaming . This just goes to show that imagination, play, and a willingness to try new things is the key to being a visionary.
Somewhat related post:
(Sidenote--the "bad boy" of figure skating currently is, I believe, Johnny Weir. It used to be Elvis Stojko. I also think there's a French guy who always skates shirtless, which lands him in the "bad boy" category. Each country may have their own figure skating bad boy, so if you know of others please chime in.)