10 Signs of Intelligence (sent by Rolf)

I only scored 4.3 because I find it hard not to show off when I think I know the answer.

Illustration: From SaleenArt... A protective Nazar plate: these eyes protect you from being influenced by others. Think for yourself!

            Score yourself from 0 (low) to 5 (high).

10 signs that you're way more intelligent than you think you are

1. You never feel the need to prove to other people how smart they are. Intelligent people know that their actions speak louder than their words. You don't brag about your achievements or flaunt your knowledge. You let your work and results show your competence and skill. You also don't feel threatened by other people's opinions or judgments. You are confident in your own abilities and don't need external validation.

2. You read a lot and are constantly still learning. Intelligent people have a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity about the world. You enjoy reading books, articles, blogs, or anything that can expand your horizons and challenge your perspectives. You are always open to new ideas and experiences. You don't settle for what you already know but seek to improve yourself and grow.

3. Intelligent people aren’t afraid or ashamed to tell you when you don’t know something. Intelligent people understand that you don't have all the answers and that there is always something to learn from others. you are not too proud or stubborn to admit when you are wrong or when you need help. you are willing to ask questions, listen to feedback, and learn from your mistakes. you also respect other people's expertise and opinions, even if you disagree with them.

4. You are independent. You make decisions unaffected by societal pressure or expectations. Intelligent people have a strong sense of self and a clear vision of what you want in life. You don't let others dictate your choices or influence their values. You are not easily swayed by trends, fads, or peer pressure. You think for yourself and follow your own path.

5. They communicate clearly. You don’t see them using big million-dollar words. You understand exactly what they’re trying to say. Intelligent people know how to express themselves effectively and efficiently. They don't use jargon, slang, or obscure words to impress or confuse others. They use simple and precise language that anyone can understand. They also know how to listen actively and empathetically, without interrupting or judging.

6. They are simple. They seem to choose material things based on the intrinsic qualities and functionality as opposed to the image or status they are going to project. Intelligent people are not materialistic or superficial. They don't care about having the latest gadgets, the fanciest clothes, or the most expensive cars. They value quality over quantity and substance over style. They appreciate the things that matter most in life, such as health, happiness, and relationships.

7. They have a good sense of humor. Intelligent people can laugh at themselves and at life's absurdities. They don't take themselves too seriously or get offended easily by jokes or sarcasm. They can see the humor in any situation and use it to cope with stress and adversity. They also enjoy making others laugh and smile with their witty and clever remarks.

8. They are adaptable. Intelligent people can adjust to changing circumstances and environments without losing their composure or confidence. They can handle uncertainty and ambiguity with ease and grace. They can also switch between different tasks, roles, or perspectives without difficulty or hesitation. They are flexible and versatile in their thinking and behavior.

9. They are creative. Intelligent people can come up with original and innovative solutions to problems or challenges. They can think outside the box and beyond the conventional wisdom. They can also use their imagination and intuition to create something new or unique out of nothing.

10.They are humble. Intelligent people don't let their intelligence get to their heads. They don't think they are better than anyone else or look down on others who are less knowledgeable or skilled than them. They acknowledge their limitations and weaknesses and strive to overcome them. They also recognize their strengths and talents and use them for good purposes.


Image from SaleenArt.


Nurturing Our Ideas

To become a good source of ideas, you have to do more than write them down. Greg Satell has done a good job of describing the support system necessary to bring ideas to life.

Digital Tonto: 4 Things I've Learned about Ideas, 2023-Jun-18 by Greg Satell

...creating, parsing and evaluating ideas is a skill that must be practiced and honed over time. Here are 4 things to keep in mind.

1. Ideas can come from anywhere 

2. Ideas need to develop over time

3. Ideas need ecosystems

4. You need to let the muse know you’re serious.

So I plan to actualize these concepts in my life and work:

  1. I'm already in the habit of reading widely and exploring new places. To move up to the next level of idea nurturing, I need to LISTEN more carefully to other people's ideas. The Thinker's Toolbox is good but it requires being able to sit and take notes. Rolf Smith recommends keeping a slips of paper in your pocket (or purse) and writing ideas down as you hear them. Most importantly, when I hear someone spout a good one, I will tell them I'm writing it down and giving them credit. (Just as Rolf has instructed me!)

  2. To encourage ideas to grow over time, I'll get a small spiral notebook I can carry around. When I'm waiting around, I can flip through it and re-ignite some ideas.

  3. I already have an idea nurturing group of innovator friends. We talk about our ideas once a week. What I need to do next is tell people who might be affected by my ideas about my ideas and invite them to comment and connect with me in the future.

  4. To become more tenacious, I'm going to stick with something I SO much want to stop: maintaining my project list. It's disheartening to see ideas just sit there on the list because I don't have time or resources to act on them. I'm going to try and make my project list more enjoyable and fun to peruse.


Better Storytelling with 3 Reveals, from Ann Handley

I'm still on the road to become a good storyteller, and Ann Handley recently offered a great tip. (A-ha: better way to connect with the reader.)

Total Annarchy newsletter: Yes, You Did See Me on MasterChef, 2023-Jun-4 by Ann Handley

Every story should reveal three truths. I call this the 3 Reveals (because I'm not great at titles).


  1. Reveal the writer to the reader: Help the reader understand the writer.
  2. Reveal the reader to the reader: Help the reader see themselves.
  3. Reveal an idea: Help deliver an a-ha moment.

Any story is a kind of partnership between the writer and the reader.

When one of the truths isn't present—a story falls flat. Feels inauthentic. Is boring.


A balance between all 3 Reveals is key. Over-indexing on one can easily throw the whole experience out of whack, like a wobbly wheel on a shopping cart that keeps listing too much to the right. You fight it—and the whole thing becomes annoying.


An Octopus View: the Fluidity of Time

What I found most valuable in this evocative article is the idea that our perspective of the past should not become fixed. Our memories are malleable, and we should be ready to reinterpret and reuse the past to better understand the present and imagine the future.

Aeon: Octopus Time, 2023-Apr-20 by David Borkenhagen

Its web of radially symmetrical arms allow it to crawl in any direction with equal competence [emphasis added], regardless of how its head is oriented. Its soft and malleable body can move through any crevasse larger than its beak. And with its two eyes positioned on opposite sides of its head, it has a near-total field of vision with almost nothing hidden ‘behind’. These abilities give the octopus a radically different relationship to its surroundings compared with other species, human or otherwise. It is a relationship free of constraints.

Compared with the octopus, human beings appear corporeally constrained. We lack the fluid mobility and wide field of vision of our (very, very) distant cephalopod cousins. Instead, we have two eyes stuck in the front of our heads. We have a paltry two legs, hardwired for forward movement. And we are bound to our terrestrial ecological niche, where our bodies must continually counteract the downward pull of gravity.

It’s not only that our experiences of space are different. Our experiences of time are likely different, too. We think about the passage of time through our terrestrial experience of unidirectional motion through space – our metaphors of time are almost all grounded in the way our bodies move forward through the environment. Given this fact, how would an octopus, who can easily see and move in all directions, conceptualize time?

...if we became more like an octopus, could we free time, metaphorically speaking, from its constraints? Could we experience it as multidimensional, fluid and free?


Values Vs. Beliefs

Values weigh more heavily than beliefs with respect to our actions. (Hint: they have $value.) We are willing to pay the price to reach something we value.

Digital Tonto: Values Always Cost You Something, 2023-May-21 by Greg Satell

...values are often confused with beliefs. When you’re sitting around a conference table, it’s easy to build a consensus about broad virtues such as excellence, integrity and customer service. True values, on the other hand, are idiosyncratic. They represent choices that are directly related to a particular mission.

Make no mistake. Real values always cost you something. They are what guides you when you need to make hard calls instead of taking the easy path. They are what makes the difference between looking back with pride or regret. Perhaps most importantly, they are what allows others to trust you.

Without genuine commitment [to] values there can be no trust. Without trust, there can be no shared purpose.


Thinking about communicating ideas

Greg Satell's 5 Rules paraphrased to my words:

  1. Clarity first: avoid technical and unusual words (Hemingway it.)
  2. Streamline the message as much as possible, removing anything of doubtful value. Be mindful of the reader's 'cognitive budget.' Would it be worth mine?
  3. It shouldn't sound like writing, but like talking with a friend. NO styling. (Except universally accepted humor.)
  4. Let one point stand if it all possible. Converse to the next point if possible.
  5. Early attempts don't indicate final quality. Quality emerges during multiple rewrites.

5 Simple Rules That Will Make You A Powerful Communicator | Digital Tonto

Sometimes the hardest thing is merely to make yourself understood. Things that change the world, or even a small part of it, always arrive out of context because, by definition, the world hasn’t changed yet.

That’s why innovators need to be great communicators, because an idea that doesn’t gain traction is an idea that fails.

That’s easier said than done. As Fareed Zakaria has put it, “Thinking and writing are inextricably intertwined. When I begin to write, I realize that my ‘thoughts’ are usually a jumble of half-baked, incoherent impulses strung together with gaping logical holes between them.”



Communicating with Artificial Intelligence

I have been dragging my heels about learning ChatGPT. I know I have to do it, but I like the old way of doing things like research and editing. Plus, if I'm going to have to double-check its output, what's the point? Frank Shaw, the Chief Communications Officer at Microsoft challenges me:

LinkedIn: The Future of Communications: How to Adapt to the AI Transformation by Frank X. Shaw

As communicators, we tell stories that help people fall in love with Microsoft, the things we make, and the impact we have in the world. And now we add – using the incredible potential of artificial intelligence – to that purpose.

Okay, here's how he says we should get started:

To realize this incredible potential, we must first understand the soul of our jobs. If we don’t deeply understand this, then all the fantastic new tools in the universe won’t help us. 😊 And what is clear is this: It is human interaction that drives the insights and the stories and the emotional connections.

Looking at artificial intelligence as a way to free up my time and increase my communication quality... Well, I guess I better get started.

Plus, Frank increases my confidence with his sound insight into the innovation process:

We have an idea, we experiment with it, we measure it, we evaluate it, we share it with one another, we repeat. Some experiments will work, and we’ll celebrate! Some will fail, and we will learn! Both are great outcomes.

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