Most of us do not know Jobs personally, though we're constantly told of Jobs' accomplishment, his temperament, and his brilliance. He sold me my iPod, presented me with the ever sophisticated iTunes, tempted me with iPhones, and fascinated me with his death.
One might think that the answer is an obvious “yes,” and Isaacson admits this. But then he tells this anecdote: But I remember having dinner with him a few months ago around his kitchen table, as he did almost every evening with his wife and kids. Someone brought up one of those brainteasers involving a monkey’s having to carry a load of bananas across a desert, with a set of restrictions about how far and how many he could carry at one time, and you were supposed to figure out how long it would take. Mr. Jobs tossed out a few intuitive guesses but showed no interest in grappling with the problem rigorously.--nytimes.com
Was Jobs being blasé? Could be.
Or he could be so smart he thought the question was an insult to his intelligence. Isaacson suggests that Mr. Jobs was smart, though not conventionally--like the nerds we find in schools, those who bury their heads in mountain of books and are sociopaths, secluded, forever-alone, and interested only in solving puzzles and sudoku.
Now is this professor smart? His academic history says yes. But his performance suggested anything but smart. He’s boring, unexciting, and unappealing to the general public, and mentors like this, in a long run would cause even the most enthusiastic of science zealots to turn their back on science.
But this is exactly how we perceive smart people isn't it? Most of us believe that intelligence represents an ability to solve logic puzzles and do well on IQ tests. Instead of judging the intrinsic traits of an individual, we normally resolve to tests and exams--a two-hour exam is deemed the fastest though not the most accurate way to measure the mental capability of an individual.
Steve Jobs was a college dropout, yet he could solve problems and understand things as well as, if not better than, any college graduate. Could things have turned out differently had he been to college?
One could argue that he was smart for his ability to inflict the right amount of pain to evoke the best out of his co-workers. Others might find it disturbing when he fired random employees in the elevator, or fired an assistant for having brought him the wrong brand of mineral water. Fastidious it may seem, but I would consider him as a different thinker. He wasn't a conventional smart guy after all.
He's smart, just in a different way.