A Genius Type is when artist meets entrepreneur.
It’s not a statement of how “smart” you are, because intelligence is an out-dated understanding of mental capacity and besides… grit and perseverance beats talent every time.
A Genius Type sees the world differently than most, and often seems brilliant. But, perplexingly, the same mind is capable of ridiculous oversights that seem obvious to most. Extreme creativity often comes at the expense of what my Grandmother would call “common sense.”
As a person who sees the world through a creative lens, I know both what a blessing and curse having creative talent is and it’s my mission to help other people get a little more out of life with an insight or two on how to navigate the world from a creative perspective.
Ever since I started GeniusTypes.com in 2006, people have been asking what the term means. To clear up the confusion, I thought I’d write a definitive guide to the meaning of “Genius Type”.
You’re a Genius Type if…
You’re a solo entrepreneur who’s finding a way to keep your business alive in this competitive economic environment.
You’re a writer, musician, filmmaker, or other artist who fights to continue creating while still being able to eat.
You get blank stares from people you just met when you describe what you do.
You make it look easy, but believe me… you paid a 10,000 hour price to get where you are.
You’re a Growth Hacker in the era of modern internet startups. Not a traditional marketer, but the person who knows how to leverage technology to put a company on the map through creative online guerrilla tactics.
Traits of Genius Types
Creativity is the defining trait of a Genius Type: the ability to solve problems and make something out of nothing. Like my friend Jack Mize once said, “they have the keys to the magic store.”
Creativity is like a muscle in your brain that can be exercised. In fact, studies have shown that willingness to struggle may be a better determining factor in problem solving than pure intellectual talent.
It’s worth pausing to think about this… In the west, we tend to quit when a problem seems to hard to solve because we think we’re not “smart” enough. In one study, American students gave up after 30 seconds of trying to solve an impossible math problem. Japanese students worked for an entire hour before they were told to stop.
The difference is in how our cultures view struggle. In the west, we see struggle as a sign of weakness. This should be good news if you’ve always thought that you weren’t “smart” enough. It might just be a matter of effort.
Diversity of Knowledge
Genius Types know enough to be dangerous about a wide range of things, and because of this, they often get mistaken for someone they’re not, such as: IT Guy, Web Designer, fitness trainer, etc. Neil Patel describes it as having a “T” shaped knowledge curve and not a “V”, where the width of the T represents your range of knowledge and the height represents depth on a few key topics.
This “renaissance man” approach is extremely helpful in being able to connect the dots to solve a large puzzle such as how to get your product to market, but beware that you don’t fall victim to the “jack of all trades, master of none” syndrome.
It’s important to know something about a lot of things as well as know a lot about a few things. Spend your time on your core competencies and delegate the rest to your team.
Take different jobs in different industries to gain new perspectives. Even the jobs you hate will teach you something.
The obsessive consumption of information about your niche is important to keep on top of the latest trends, techniques, and ideas. Art is a communal act, each new creation builds upon the previous creations of other people. There is no purely creative content.
The digital age has made it easy to consume information. My favorites are audiobooks and podcasts. There’s no excuse for not knowing how to do something (at least at a surface level)… just Google it.
The problem in today’s world is feeling crushed by information overload. The more you know, the more you know that you don’t know. It can feel intimidating as if you’ll never catch up. Add the pace of advancements in technology and it’s important to realize that everyone is in the same boat. Don’t let it paralyze you. You have to start somewhere.
Learning tactics from others, the intellectual tools of your trade, in combination with creativity is where the magic happens. Don’t waste creative energy on re-inventing the wheel when someone else has developed a technique or template to do it quickly and efficiently. There’s no prize for struggle for the sake of struggle, only results.
I first learned this lesson when I set out in 2006 to learn code in order to create my own content-publishing website. After struggling for months, I stumbled upon a little piece of software called WordPress that instantly created it all for me.
Every day that I didn’t know about WordPress was a day wasted struggling to reinvent the wheel. Once again, there was no prize for my struggle for the sake of struggling. The prize came when I reaped the results of a solution that someone else figured out.
There are a million more examples of this phenomena. Before you waste too much time, realize that someone else has probably experienced the same problem as you in the past and came up with a solution.
Genius Types cannot exist in a vacuum. The term “self-made” is a lie. In order to have fans, you have to first be a fan of someone else. If you want people to consume your content, start by consuming other people’s content. Come out of your lock-down in creativity mode once a day to connect with other people.
Contrary to common belief, I have found that successful Genius Types tend to be unselfish. They genuinely care about other people. They take time to interact with people and go out of their way to be nice.
Go to conferences, comment on blogs, read social media, smile at someone on the street, reply to an email from a stranger. Connect.
You’re not a Genius Type if…
You want the reward without the work… the quick fix… the easy way out.
You’re a quitter.
You’re talented, but lazy.
The Age of The Genius Type
Our modern information world has ushered in the Age of the Genius Type. The successful startups, entrepreneurs, and artists of the future will have someone on their team who has this blend of creativity, grit, and curiosity.
In the years since I started GeniusTypes.com, the tools at our disposal have expanded exponentially. It’s easier now than ever before to start a website, build a business, create film & video, make music, etc.
We should expect the tools to continue to expand in the future. Who knows what new tactics will be invented to create and share content in the future?
Now that it’s easier, more and more people are entering the online entrepreneurial game. Is the increased competition an issue? Not if you pride yourself in quality. Huge quantities of low-quality content have flooded the market, giving you buoyancy.
The term “Genius Type” is not a statement of intelligence, it’s where artist and entrepreneur collides in the brain. Everyone has it in them. There are no haves and have nots. Only those who put in the effort to find their inner Genius Type and those who do not.
The term either speaks to you or it doesn’t. Maybe you have it in you. Maybe you know someone who has it in them. If it speaks to you, develop it.
You don’t have to be a Genius Type yourself to survive the modern economy. You just need one on your team.