Being smart by itself doesn’t get you very far in life. After all, when companies hire for senior or executive positions, they often care more about how much relevant experience people have over how smart candidates are. If I’m a company looking to hire someone to build a payments platform, I’m going to choose someone who has successfully done it before rather than a new grad who’s smart and eager to learn.

At the end of the day, companies care about results. Skills and experience that can deliver results are the currency of the intelligence economy. Skills to acquire more skills (metaskills) doesn’t do squat until you gain those value-delivering skills, which requires a lot of relevant experience that isn’t just sitting around like shoe boxes in a clearance aisle. Companies don’t like waiting 3 – 4 years with the hope that someday you’ll be in that position to contribute. Read More

Mental Cycles

A mental cycle is an arbitrary unit of “mental computing power” that is used to measure the mental costs of performing certain tasks. You can say finding the square root of 81 requires fewer cycles than finding the square root of 5329.  You can say a smart person has a lot of mental cycles, which means that they can think a lot. You can also say that a smart person uses their mental cycles very effectively, meaning that even if they’re slow, they have good heuristics around how to solve problems efficiently. Students who spend 10 minutes on a test that should have taken 60 are either geniuses or cheating. Teachers intuit possible explanations to quick test turnaround times with the implicit concept of mental cycles. Read More