Bernard White


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Is Intelligence a good predictor of finical success? And should it be? Considering Economic and social backgrounds. Should we change it?

After having read many books like :
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
- Office politics by Oliver James.
It seems that Intelligence isn't the best predictor of "finical success". It seems that many other factors matter a lot more, such as : opportunities (which are mostly random), time when you were born, social and economic background, and how "charismatic" you are.
Also if you are a psychopath, it genially seems it helps you a lot in the business world, because you take credit for everything "good" and blame everything "bad" on other people.
When I say "should it be?" I am referring to the fact that some people may work extremely hard, who are less intelligent than someone who doesn't work hard. Now should that person who is "more intelligent" be allowed to do more well, for something he or she didn't even earn.
Another way of putting this is :
- One man works 10 hours to learn the equivalent of what another man take 1 hour to learn. Is that fair?
Would be interested in people's opinions on this, because in the past, there have been studies done on the correlation between "success" and intelligence. And the main factor was : Social and economic background not intelligence.
Also on a separate note : "What is intelligence?" (only answer this one if you want to, or have the time to.) Will ask a separate Ted question, for this issue!

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    Mar 14 2013: I don't see any reason why general intelligence should be a good predictor of financial success. Success of any kind would be more closely related to how you use your skills and talents than to what your skills and talents are.

    There are, for example, highly intelligent people who do not choose to use that intelligence to maximize their financial succeess and some who, while being extremely intelligent, have other characterostics that stand in the way of all sorts of opportunities, financial or otherwise.
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      Mar 15 2013: I'm interested :
      So do you view "hard-work" and various other traits like charisma (If charisma is vital, surely we could change this? So that the quality of idea's become more important than how you present them?) , are vital towards "success"?
      Because if that is so, then why don't we teach people that at schools, rather than teaching them that "intelligence" is one of the routes to success? (Hope I have understood your message correctly) :)
      And on a separate matter, why do we teach our students that they need to be "successful"? And not follow their passions.
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        Mar 15 2013: While this may differ in different countries, I know in the United States schools de-emphasize any role for intelligence in success even at school, rather emphasizing the merit of hard work and being able to work productively with peers. Stressing the value of hard work actually benefits both the slower learner and the particularly gifted student.

        Again, the issue of the importance of success may also differ in different countries. In the United States some families may convey that message to their kids but I am unaware of any schools that do. Schools do convey the importance of a broad set of basic skills on which to build in order to have access to a wide range of later learning and work opportunities.
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    Mar 17 2013: There is an old Irish saying that the cleverest of men may be found at the side of the road.

    So the folk wisdom is that not only is there no link between intelligence and financial success, sometimes you see the opposite.

    Financial success is dependent on a lot of things, one of them being focus so intelligence is not a good predictor. To explain (ignoring the question of what is intelligence) here is a scenario where intelligence can work against financial success:

    Compare two people. One of them has lots of ideas, many of them really great ideas, the other never has ideas until one day they get half of an idea for a widget. Now this half of an idea is the best most exciting thing they have ever though. So they tell everyone, put a lot of energy into getting people to look at their widget. While all of that was going on the first person had three better widget ideas.

    Persistence and enthusiasm mean that the person with half an idea for a widget will do a better job of selling widgets. After all they can honestly say it is greatest thing they have ever though of>
  • Mar 16 2013: I thought that the point was that it varies from person to person. Reality is important to me. Robert Anton Wilson wrote about talking to the author of Catch 22 - What is enough? Some prople never understand that issue. Life is a great deal like the Mahabarata ( Okay my limited understanding of that epic work.) It's sort of like stoic thought as expressed by Marcus Aurelius. Or the Count of Montecristo by Dumas. Or if you prefer Lord Keynes We are all in the end dead. Wjy would an intelligent person care that much? Of course, being an intelligent person doesn't always give one what others use to succeed.
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    Mar 15 2013: As a former member of Mensa, I'm convinced that intelligence is just CPU power. More depends upon the quality of the programming and the experience of the user.
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      Mar 15 2013: Forgive me for not understanding "CPU power", what is that? :)
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    Mar 15 2013: I do not think intelligence has a role in finances becasue usually in finances you have to be book smart and not so much as a "common senser".
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    Gail .

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    Mar 15 2013: If you look at Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, you will see two very different people. Gates came from financial privilege. Not only could he afford to go to Harvard, but even more telling, he could afford to drop out. Jobs came from a financially meager family, yet his financial success is no less impressive. Both are brilliant men, but if you look at Fortune 500 companies, you will see that a high IQ is not a prerequisite. In fact, height is more important if you are a man.

    This said, I don't think that you will see someone with an IQ of 70 as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Not only would such a person not be able to handle the social networking, but such a person wouldn't want to do the work that the CEO must do to run the company.

    Sociopathy is essential (to a culturally acceptable level) for maximum success. So is the ability to have a vision for the future, a willingness to follow that dream, being able to articulate that vision, and finding followers who are willing to invest themselves (or their money) in your vision.

    As to what is "intelligence". Currently, it is defined by one's IQ - which involves the ability to recognize patterns that others do or don't see. It gives an edge because the vision can be seen, but it can also be a ball and chain because if you see a far greater pattern that most of the world sees, you will live in isolation even though you know how to fix all that is wrong with the world. Not seeing the pattern, others will demean you and call you names.

    BUT - if you have a low EQ (emotional quotient), the highest IQ (intelligence quotient) in the world won't save you from yourself. If you do not own your emotions, your emotions will own you, and such a person will not climb from nothing to a financial giant. That type of person must be born into financial privilege.

    PS: It's not at all about fairness as "fair" is defined by our culture.
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      Mar 15 2013: So would you say that intelligence and emotional intelligence (Not sure how similar and different they are) are vital towards success?
      Have you read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell?
      Because Bill Gates spent more than 10,000 hours on coding at his school, which then enabled him to be one of the best coders, at the time when he released Microsoft,and when "coding" was in high demand and low supply. (Hope I have got my facts right :S)
      And would you say that it is their personality factors which guarantee their successive, rather than situational factors?
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        Gail .

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        Mar 15 2013: EQ measures your maturity - as seen through your ability to manage your emotions. This is vital to success unless your success is measured in terms of your willingness to use violence against others to achieve your aims.

        Sociopathy to some AGAIN - CULTURALLY ACCEPTABLE level is also required. To follow this, you have to follow the history and workiings of our fiscal paradigm.

        IQ to SOME degree is essential.

        Because of increased economic disparity, it is becoming more and more difficult to climb above one's given station in life, but it is not yet impossible. Here is where social abilities help when combined with an idea.

        Gates may have spent 10k hours playing with his hobby of coding, but the language he used to code was STOLEN from Apple (first sign of sociopathy - and an offense for which Microsoft paid Apple 150 million dollars)

        Personality is the prime factor in fiscal success. If you have a low EQ and/or IQ and/or are intellectually lazy, your personality is CONSIDERABLY different from one with a high EQ, moderate IQ, and a driving passion. These are things that can be learned, but few choose to learn - even if they hear about something that will make their dreams come true, they will not believe it. An open mind is also necessary because it allows you to see beyond limits imposed on you by your culture.
  • Mar 15 2013: No. What is really important?
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      Mar 15 2013: Sorry to answer a question, with a question but : what is important to you?
      I mean is it happiness? Or the well-being of your loved ones? (just a few thoughts!)
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    Mar 15 2013: Bernard, I have only had three jobs and retired from all three. Here is what I have seen at all three.

    When we enter a job most of us inherent a "sponsor". For good or bad you are attached to that persons wagon. If they take off then you are pulled along. This is pretty automatic up to the management level at which point you must step up to the plate and earn your further promotions. People who make it up the ladder for sexual favors, sucking up, and faking it get one maybe two promotions and they are out.

    So do brains count ... yep they do. However, if you are the best physicist in town and have absolutely no social skills and are roundly disliked by most ... you may be a lab rat with pay raises and never promoted into the public or corporate eye.

    As for psychopaths .... yep they will become rich and famous. Almost all members of congress and the executive branch are millionares.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Mar 15 2013: What I have observed is that intelligence/reason has to be combined with effort. Little of either, does not lead to sucess.

    Another factor as indicated by Fritzie is what is the goal of the individual. I would say very few have a goal of making a lot of money.
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      Mar 15 2013: Is it fair though, that someone who works hard and isn't intelligent shouldn't be able to succeed?
      And if so, what should we do about it?
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        Mar 15 2013: Hard work alone is not enough. You have to work hard at what someone is willing to pay for.

        What should be done is allow the person the freedom to succeed this is a known and accepted practice.
  • Mar 15 2013: A "rounded" type of intelligence along with common sense, talent, skills, and a bit of luck, also play a huge part in successes in the business world.
    There are so many factors and variables to this question that to single one or two out would not give you a true answer.