Here’s why you shouldn’t only hire the smartest people


Boris is the wise old TNW CEO who writes a weekly column on everything about being a tech entrepreneur – from stress management to awkwardness. You can receive his thoughts directly in your inbox by subscribing to his newsletter!

It’s not easy to guess how smart you really are. I certainly know people a lot smarter than I do – and I’m regularly blown away by the simplest things. Still, every once in a while, I’ll end up doing something pretty smart.

And that’s absolutely fine.

The older I get, the more I understand (and experience) that intelligence isn’t everything – it’s just a tool. On its own, a tool cannot do anything. It’s only when used correctly and used in tandem with other specialized equipment that real magic happens.

[Read: The one question every leader should ask themselves]

A high-quality camera in the hands of an amateur is unlikely to produce a better shot than a cheap camera in the hands of an artist. Just like intelligence in the hands of a person who doesn’t know how to use it creatively is pretty useless.

I think I’ve taken a lot of advantage of the limited amount of intelligence I have by being stubborn and persevering – then combining that with unrestrained creativity and thought.

This is my complete toolkit: a certain intelligence, combined with a lot of creativity and perseverance.

There are people who are smarter than me (a lot, actually) but some are just too rigid in their thinking, too allowed to work hard, or not creative enough to come up with even an original thought. They’re damn smart, but that’s it.

Being extremely smart won’t get you anywhere unless you have the social skills, intuition, and sense of timing to match.

So how does this knowledge help us? You can use it to harness your own talents and discover the skills of others. You can be a complementary tool in your team’s collective toolbox (sorry to call you a tool).

The senseless pure creativity of marketing and commerce won’t get you very far. And the smartest person in your class isn’t the most likely to be successful, but they might know the best way to implement your creative solution.

Companies should never “hire only the smartest people” because intelligence itself can be pretty dumb.

Haven’t you had enough of Boris? Check out his ancient stories here and sign up for his newsletter here.

Published March 11, 2021 – 16:25 UTC


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