IF YOU'RE SO SMART, WHY AREN'T YOU RICH?
Every month in the Mensa Bulletin, American Mensa's monthly magazine, a question is asked and members can write in their responses for publication in a future issue. In late 2001 or early 2002, the question said "This month's question is one that many Mensans have been asked: If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" I wrote in and my response was published in the February, 2002 issue of the bulletin as below:
Published in the February, 2002 Mensa Bulletin
This is a fascinating question, and one that I find more timely than ever in my own life. I can speak only for myself, but I think people may relate to some of my reasoning. So, why aren't I rich, despite being so smart?
The things that our society rewards monetarily are at odds with the sensibilities of many intelligent people. In other words, I know what makes money, and I don't agree with it on a moral or a personal basis. Increasingly, our society rewards a select few who produce concrete products or processes while leaving less concrete producers in the dust. An example is the fact that a college professor who helps to produce businessmen makes less money than any of his students when they finish.
Making money requires a specific type of creativity that is not inherent in intelligence. In order to make money, one must have a product or service to sell. Many intelligent people are operationally intelligent; they are good at the big picture. This does not, however, ensure any specific knoweledge of any subject that can be turned into a product or service. One may be brilliant at knowing how to run a company, yet have no clue what to sell.
I think that many intelligent people see keenly the problems that our focus on money can create. Therefore, for better or worse, some react by developing a distaste for money, seeing it as a sign of greed or materialism. Some, I believe, actively avoid making money, though it is probably unconscious to them.
Intelligence is a distraction. Intelligent people have many interests besides their job. Therefore, they may not want to focus as wholeheartedly on their job. Often these interests are esoteric and totally removed from making money.
That's just a few of the patterns I've noticed with myself. Ironically, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have wanted to find a business partner to complement the skills that I have. I have good operational abilities, but I am not one to invent a product on my own. Given the proper partner, however, I feel I could help shape the idea and be instrumental in making it work in the market. I actually have spoken with one member in my local group about this, but I am very interested in forming an entrepreneurs' group where some of us can get together and discuss how to make money together in a constructive and moral way.
After this letter was published, I actually did receive some emails from people who had ideas for a product or service and were hoping to team up with someone with operational skills. To date, nothing has materialized from those contacts. If you have an idea, feel free to contact me.