This is Part 2 of the 3 part essay series called Belief Arbitrage. Part 3 is coming tomorrow.
Yesterday, we talked about Talent. To recap, talent is one’s ability to do something extremely well. I also argued that talent is the only form or advantage which I thought I could build to get material wealth in life.
To me, the idea that Genius can be translated to material wealth is an axiomatic belief. So we’ll not dwell on whether Genius is useful or not.
In the late 2000s, a young man would show up every week with the same idea for approval from the management of this rapidly growing Internet startup. He had previously quit his job at an prestigious consulting company and closed those doors behind him by going to a smaller startup in a completely different role.
For the idea which he had a lot of faith in, he was willing to bet this career and if not, at least his future prospects at that company. His bet? A new Internet explorer toolbar, which would ensure that users could find Google Search more easily and quickly. The man was Sundar Pichai.
To many, that is and was a move of genius. This was a genius of not just invention, but also business, technology and user psychology. There is more than one flavour of genius for sure.
Let’s begin by understanding what we mean by genius first.
Our cultural understanding of intellectual excellence, or more popularly, genius is extremely limited – and dare I say, harmful. We limit these to inventors, mathematical prodigies and their ilk.
Alexey Guzey talks about this cultural misunderstanding here: https://guzey.com/intelligence-killed-genius/
I know a few people who I believe to be geniuses. What happens when I tell them that I believe they’re a genius? They all tell me that there are people smarter than them and that they’re “only pretty good at one or two things”
bitch this is exactly what genius is.
Genius isn’t limited to the ability to solve puzzles, or do rapid arithmetic, or Sheldon’s eccentric quirks.
Genius is having the ability, no – the advantage, to see things which others can’t see.
To me, as someone of not-superhuman intelligence, the question is this then:
“How do I make the leap from Talent to Genius?”
The answer is in the Alexey Guzey essay itself: genius is having a vision.
In sports, the line between talent and genius is often blurred. Is Michael Jordan a really talented player, or a genius for exploiting the blind spots of referees to his advantage?
It’s being able to make bets and act on them with unparalleled insight. It’s executing. It’s doing something which escapes the imagination of most people in the know. It’s a taste for what could work, without being bound by tradition.
As Arthur Schopenhauer summarized: Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Tomorrow, I’ll write to you with the last installment of this series.