Smart, Ambitious, Hard-Working People Are No Longer Rewarded for Memorization & Access to Information
Here's what now gets you the real kickass rewards
Mr Ph.D joined my team in the bank.
He could recite facts from hundreds of years of history. He had the best memory I’d ever seen.
But that’s where the advantages ended.
I don’t quite remember his background, but he was approximately 50 years old and had just gotten his Ph.D. This education was part of a career change. He came to our team through some sort of graduate/college program.
We tried him out.
Even a simple spreadsheet caused a meltdown.
Why? He had to liaise with other departments. He had to ask them for things and had no idea how. When he sent random emails that read like 5000-word philosophical essays, no one responded.
He never thought to just walk up to their desk and get the data.
Every task required a grandiose plan that had to be vetted by all of us. Progress happened at a snail’s pace, if at all.
It came to the end of his trial. “Sooooo … do you want to keep him?” said HR.
My boss: “God no.”
After a long discussion with him over what would be his last lunch before he got fired, it became clear he thought access to information was sexy. And he took real pride in all the stuff he memorized over a lifetime of academia.
But he couldn’t do, well, anything in the real world. Despite his ambitious goals and ability to work hard.
Seth Godin’s version of the “new smart”
Intelligence often used to be thought of as a result of your genes or who your parents were (because they influence you a lot).
Seth Godin – an extraordinary thinker, well-known author/researcher/marketer – wrote in his essay “Are you smart?” that being smart is now a choice.
Smartness is now a skill too.
You can deliberately cultivate smartness.
No longer do you need to wait for a higher power to enter your life, say a little prayer for you, dance in the rain, and hope to be blessed. Nope. You can deliberately cultivate smartness.
Here’s what the new definition of smart is.
1. Reading the room
I can sit in a room and quickly figure out if the other person loves me or wants to rip my face off with a small ax.
This is a skill you can acquire.
Learning to read body language and facial expressions helps you know where you stand. That way when it comes time for next steps at the end of a meeting, you’ll know whether to follow up or not.
Too many well-informed college-types get in a room and fart all over the place with their words, then think they’re in with a chance to be part of a sh*t-hot opportunity.
If they could only read the room they wouldn’t be so confident and would take the time to rebuild the relationship.
2. Fast decision-making
The average person is a slow-moving brontosaurus dinosaur.
Ask them to make a decision and they:
Become overwhelmed with fear
Have to call their wifey or hubby
Need days or weeks to think about it
The world is fast-paced. If you can’t make a decision someone else will.
“You snooze, you lose” as they say. Most good opportunities now come with a countdown timer attached to 20 sticks of dynamite.
If you don’t promptly decide the opportunity blows up and splatters human waste all over your face.
A shortcut to faster decisions
My decision-making skills became 10x faster when Tim Ferriss taught me to use pros and cons lists with every decision.
Use pros and cons lists to get a clear picture of a decision. Then use logic, gut feeling, and courage to decide.
Oh, and not making a decision is a decision.
3. Saving time
We’re desperate to save time because none of us has enough.
Life has become so complex, thanks to technology, that people who can save us time are more valuable than a Rolex watch.
This is why we buy digital products like online courses.
Not because we can’t find the information ourselves. No. But because no one has the time to scour the internet for 12 hours per day to learn the best insights on a topic (except me, hence my career).
Save people time by:
Getting to the point
Selling the value of your work through how much time it saves
4. Writing online
Smart, ambitious, hard-working people learn to write online.
Now I’m biased. But hear me out.
Most people don’t think they’re online writers. But they are. If you write emails, send text messages, use social media, create Powerpoint decks for your boss … well, you’re already writing online.
Since coroni-macaroni a lot more communication happens online than in-person. If you can’t write online you’re screwed.
Writing is how you persuade others to get off their lazy butt and support your mission – whatever that is.
Those who can communicate with words get an unfair advantage. It’s not hard. But first, you must come to terms with the fact you’re already an online writer.
While we’re at it, let’s destroy another limiting label…
5. Make money online
Smart people make money online because they don’t want to rely on one income source. (Especially in this recession and the wild inflation we’re feeling.)
People freak out when I talk about the internet and money.
“But Tim, that’s for entrepreneurs and techie people. I’m not like that.”
Yes you are. If you’re connected to wifi when you work a job then you’re already making money online amigo. Let’s not let BS labels limit your life any longer.
6. Careful curation
Curation is a skill smart, ambitious people are obsessed with. Why?
The quality of information, opportunities, businesses, fellow human beings – is extremely varied.
The average person will just send a list of options to a friend or work colleague and say “There … you figure it out!”
Getting good at curation is a master skill. It means you have good tastes in things that matter to others (which again will save them time).
The way to become a good curator is to start by keeping a personal database using the Roam or Notion app. This is where you collect ideas, people, links, pictures, opportunities, etc, for easy recall later on.
For example if someone says “Yo Timbo, what’s the best automation software for an online business?” I can type automation into my Roam database and quickly curate a short list for them.
The older your personal database, the smarter you appear.
Also, the more you put into your personal database, the smarter you become.
The biggest lies we tell are to ourselves.
Self-awareness helps you look in the mirror. The way to become more self-aware is to write down your beliefs and values.
Then regularly audit yourself against those standards and be truthful with the answers. Our self-awareness determines our behavior and feelings.
If you feel sh*tty all the time there’s a reason for it. You’re not living your truth. You’re saying one thing to yourself and doing another.
That’ll get you absolutely nowhere in life.
Stand for something. Then hold yourself accountable.
8. Personal responsibility
The victim mentality is an epidemic of epic proportions.
Institutions and governments have taught us all to be victims and think we’ve been oppressed based on some petty little human trait.
The problem with living as a victim is you blame all your problems on someone or something else. So there’s zero accountability. You live in ignorant bliss.
“It’s everyone else’s fault. Nothing I can do.”
Yes there is!
Stop outsourcing your happiness to excuses.
Own the problems in your life even if you didn’t 100% create them. That’s how you unlock personal power and reach a level of success in life most normal people couldn’t dream of.
You’re in control.
9. Non-ego leadership
Modern leadership is a dog and pony show. It’s not real leadership, it’s pretend leadership.
Be seen to do the right thing
Give fake-nice compliments
Apologize for every tiny thing
Say the right things and be woke
Obsess over status and job titles
Brag about the BS your salary buys you (which you really drown in debt to get)
All of these treats are driven by our ego. Our belief that we’re special.
They’re selfish things we do for personal gain. Real leadership is unselfishness. Think Nelson Mandela. Think Gandhi. Think Mother Teresa.
These heroes are not trying to win awards.
They’re trying to help all humans live better lives. They don’t care if they get jack sh*t for doing it. They “just do it,” as Nike says.
Memorization and access to information no longer mean anything. If you value these things then it’s time to change.
Smart, ambitious, hard-working people focus on soft skills, unselfishness, the way the online world works, valuing time (true wealth), and owning their lives.
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