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From Mozart to Jobs, How Geography Gives Birth to Genius

On this episode of "Re/code Decode," Kara Swisher interviews "The Geography of Genius" author Eric Weiner.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

Silicon Valley is an exceptional place full of smart, uniquely innovative people … right?

Wrong! So writes Eric Weiner in his new book “The Geography of Genius.” In the book, as Weiner explained to Kara Swisher on the latest episode of “Re/code Decode,” he traces the cultural and geographic forces that have made people smart and creative from ancient Athens to 19th century Calcutta to the present-day Valley … and why the golden ages of all of those places, save one, fell apart.

“They came into being for different reasons, but they ended for the same reason: Arrogance,” Weiner said. “The problem with arrogance is there’s no more room for ignorance. You know everything, and you’ve lost that openness to experience.”

Good thing no one in tech is ever arrogant.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

Weiner also discussed why different environments produce completely different types of geniuses.

“In 18th century Vienna, what did people care about? Music!” he said. “Who were the geniuses? Beethoven and Mozart. What do we care about? Technology! Who are our geniuses? Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.”

Listen to or download the episode in the player above, or click here to subscribe to “Re/code Decode” on iTunes; you can also find “Re/code Decode” on TuneIn, Stitcher and Clammr.

Peter Kafka will be in this space on Thursday to talk to Starry’s Chet Kanojia. Kara will be back on Monday to talk to SoFi CEO Mike Cagney.

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