This is what the Amazon founder looks for when he wants to know if someone is really smart.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos sits atop one of the most successful companies of our time, not to mention a personal fortune of some $150 billion. I think we can all agree that by any meaningful definition the guy is pretty smart. It’s also obvious he has a talent for surrounding himself with other smart people who can help make his vision reality.
How does he find them? It’s a question he addressed when he stopped by the Basecamp offices a few years ago, the company’s founder, Jason Fried, reports on the Basecamp blog. And the answer Bezos gave was the exact opposite of what most folks would expect.
Smart people are actually wrong a lot.
Most of us, when we want to figure out if someone is smart, ask if the person is frequently right: Do they have correct knowledge about the world and their area of expertise? Do they come up with the right answers when faced with hard problems? Do their predictions turn out to be right?
But Bezos’s counterintuitive strategy isn’t just to look at how often people are right. Instead, he also looks for people who can admit they are wrong and change their opinions often.
Bezos has “observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking,” Fried reports the Amazon boss saying.