If your kid grows up to run a multi-billion dollar enterprise, you can probably give yourself a pat on the back for some #goodparenting.
But how can you tell if the little tyke has what it takes to be the next Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos?
You’d think that your kid would demonstrate some kind of genius early on, but it turns out that’s not always the case.
According to Business Insider:
Before Jeff Bezos was Jeff Bezos, he was “Tim.”
As Brad Stone wrote in his 2013 bestseller, “The Everything Store,” that was Bezos’ pseudonym in the book “Turning on Bright Minds,” which explored a gifted-education program in Texas where Bezos was a student.
Bezos’ teachers told the book’s author, Julie Ray, that he was “not particularly gifted in leadership.” Decades later, that claim is at odds with the man who leads his company according to 14 exacting leadership principles, and who is at the forefront of American innovation like space travel.
So what changed since middle school? Not much, it’s just that Bezos (below) demonstrated his skills in other ways.
He designed a survey to rate the sixth-grade teachers at his school, in order to practice statistical analysis for math class.
Ray wrote that the survey was, according to Bezos, designed to evaluate instructors on “how they teach, not as a popularity contest.” When Ray visited the school, Bezos had distributed the survey to classmates and was now graphing the teachers’ relative performance.
Stone pulls out other telling tidbits from Ray’s book. Bezos was competitive — he was trying to keep up with a classmate who claimed she read 12 books a week — and enterprising — he was creating a more affordable version of a contraption he’d seen in a store that created an illusion of an endless tunnel.
So the lesson learned here is that your kid’s teacher might not be the best judge of their potential (we also aren’t sure how the said teacher did in that survey… ).
The fact that Bezos was actually a pretty gifted kid fits with current research on the predictors of success in adulthood
One small study, conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University, found that 320 students who had scored above the 1-in-10,000 level on the SAT before age 13 held more prestigious jobs at more prestigious companies by age 38 than the rest of the population on average.
Another study, from researchers at Stirling University in the UK and University College Dublin, looked at a sample of 17,000 people and found that 10- and 11-year-old kids who demonstrated high cognitive ability were more likely to hold leadership positions as adults. (So much for Bezos’ teachers’ insistence that he didn’t have leadership potential.)
Bill Gates (above), the former CEO of Microsoft, was also a smart kid (no surprises there).
The Wall Street Journal reported that he read the entire World Book Encyclopedia series at a young age. By age 11, Gates’ father told The Journal, Gates began asking his parents about topics like international affairs and business.
So even if your kid doesn’t seem super impressive at the moment, you might just be missing some early indicators of greatness.
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