Last week, Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of books on Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Henry Kissinger and Steve Jobs, spoke on innovation and leadership to an invitation-only gathering of legal professionals at the Thomson Reuters headquarters at 3 Times Square. This event was part of the legal solutions launch at LegalTech, and designed to mark a new chapter of innovation and creativity for the legal businesses of Thomson Reuters.

Mike Suchsland, president, Legal, introduced Isaacson by reminding the audience that while Franklin, Einstein, Kissinger and Jobs were all people of their time, they also redefined their time and the common experiences of their generation and those that followed.

“Admittedly, we haven’t quite accomplished the equivalent of discovering electricity or quantum theory, nor have we brokered peace in the Middle East or even pioneered the personal computer revolution,” Suchsland said. “We did refocus a very good and market- leading legal information business with a long history of innovation into a legal solutions innovator that we feel will be revolutionary in the legal marketplace – one that can help lawyers and legal professionals be more effective and efficient in serving their clients.”

To quote Albert Einstein, Suchsland said: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”

Simplicity, passion and heart were key elements in Isaacson’s remarks to the standing-room only audience. As he revealed leadership insights about Franklin, Einstein, and from the personal relationship he developed with Steve Jobs, it was clear that each had a personal style that was original and genuine. Franklin was masterful at finding common ground; Einstein found creativity and beauty in scientific study; and Jobs was relentless in creating devices that were elegant and satisfying in their simplicity.

In the video recap below, Isaacson reflects on the unique leadership styles of these innovative leaders, and the common threads between them.

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