Being Smart is not enough to find the career you want

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Being Smart is not enough to find the career you want

Very often thinking from a psychological point of view leads to a very clear and crisp understanding of things. Looking at society from a third party perspective makes one see and realize facts that one would not be able to appreciate normally as the focus is always on “me”. That’s actually one of the things you learn during an MBA i.e how to make sure you view a problem from the other party’s perspective

Now, I can vouch for the fact that if you are a broad minded person who thinks in the manner described above then you are ‘smarter’ than most people. So if you apply ‘basic logic’ to this premise it turns out that if you are smart you should be able get what you want in life. Well, not exactly. Turns out that being smart is not enough to succeed in life, so I have discovered. Let’s talk about this in the context of the MBA

Q. Why does a person pursue an MBA (Full Time MBA)?

In most cases anyone who pursues a FT-MBA at a good school is looking to either change careers in function, industry, both or in the best case, is looking for quick career progression because he thinks he has the wits to do it and leap ahead of his counterparts

Q. What is the biggest advantage of dong an MBA?

Talk to as many people as you can who are MBAs. You’ll find a pattern amongst most of them. The “MBA helps you to look at a problem from a number of different angles and perspectives” . So if you were an engineer before doing an MBA, then you mostly looked at a problem from a technical and implementation standpoint. But the same engineer after an MBA from a good school would look at the same problem from a number of different perspectives.

Q. What is the easiest/best way to change careers after an MBA?

The answer is very simple CONSULTING. Visit any of the top business schools around the world and you will notice that the consulting companies are always the first ones to showcase themselves and invite applications for internships or full time roles.

Consulting companies value the MBA very highly. Many MBA students are employees of consulting companies who are sponsored to attend Business school and finish an MBA.

Despite its highly demanding lifestyle, consultants at top firms are paid really well and a few years in consulting allows you to change tracks to anything you have an interest in, later on. No wonder then, that students, specially those looking to change careers make a beeline for Consulting companies while in business school

Q.How do you get a job in Consulting?

Now we come to the real question. This applies not only to consulting but to many other professions specially when working with top companies. You might think that good grades, wit, intelligence and having a global perspective on things would be enough.

Companies will tell you that they are looking for the “Best Talent“. Sadly, that term has nothing to do with how smart you are.

The real truth is that companies are looking at how influential you are, where have you worked before, which schools have you studied in etc. So if you haven’t worked for a global brand before and haven’t been to a globally well-known school earlier chances are that you’ll have a really hard time even getting an interview for a consulting firm.

Let’s look at this from the company’s perspective and then verify it with a real life example.

A consulting firm or any sales driven organization invests a lot in its employees and expects them to consistently climb up the ladder within the company hierarchy. At a certain point, when they reach a senior level their main job would be to bring in clients and pitch for business. At this point they believe that someone with a strong and influential network is more valuable than someone else who maybe much smarter but lacks the benefits that come from Royal Education (say a Harvard or Stanford Degree).

Point taken, but then do you really think that every person you hire will reach that level. Also, what value are you adding to the person being hired if you are already looking to leverage their network from an early stage.

If you don’t agree with me yet, then you will now. Perhaps you have heard the story of Chris Langan. Chris is famously known as America’s smartest man and has an IQ between 195-210 much higher than Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin or Issac Newton. Chris started to speak at the age of six months and taught himself to read before the age of four.He got straight A’s in school, got a perfect SAT score and taught himself advanced physics, maths, latin and greek. He didn’t think that University education could teach him anything so chose not to pursue it. (Read more about him here and watch his video below)

Chris was recently profiled in Malcolm Gladwell‘s book Outliers: The Story of Success, where Gladwell looks at the reasons behind why Langan was unable to flourish in a university environment. Gladwell writes that although Langan “read deeply in philosophy, mathematics, and physics” as he worked on the CTMU, “without academic credentials, he despairs of ever getting published in a scholarly journal

Smart, intelligent, driven MBAs who don’t have any global brands on their resume are in the same position as Christopher Langan. You can try your best but most often than not you will be judged on everything else other than your brain and personality, specially by the ‘big corporates‘.

So, the next time you hear someone use the word ‘Smart People‘ take that with a pinch of salt. If possible, question them on it and surely feel free to pass along this article as a reference.

Enclosed: Interview of Chris Langan below

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