Good discussion topic.
Although I myself am pursuing a PhD, I am thoroughly convinced it's really not a big deal. I've noticed many physics professors are extremely arrogant and socially inept. It's like getting a PhD means the world to them. I think the truly creative and most brilliant minds are those who aren't concerned with such status, titles, and material goals. Einstein, like many greats, is great because he cared for and loved physics. Getting things like a PhD is just an excuse to learn as much as he could. I'll take Feynman for an even more modern example - if you read any of his books, does it really come off that he cared more intensely about getting things like a PhD, or did he care for and love physics and science more than anything? Imagine, Feynman would go to strip clubs and do physics...I know that's not where my mind is at in strip clubs!
I see this in other people, and I see it within myself. Sometimes I wonder if I love science as much as these folks do. It's not about how smart you are, and creativity does definitely play a role. But are you willing to put forth the hardest work, and to learn everything? Can you sit and wonder like these people do? Do you, day and night, think about physics or other sciences? I know I don't.