I’ve had the experience of working in large corporations and small startups. My takeaway is that no company or industry has a monopoly on smart people. They are everywhere…in 50,000 people strong accounting firms, law firms and Silicon Valley startups. If I had to choose I’d say that some of the smartest people I worked with were in the large corporations. Some of these people have gone on to do amazing things in business and life and some of them have stayed at the same company quite content with their careers inside the organization and have built great lives.
The difference between the genius at an accounting firm and a genius founder of a Silicon Valley startup is their risk tolerance. I’ve worked with enough brilliant entrepreneurs to know that it’s not their smarts that differentiated them…smarts are table stakes…it’s their ability to operate in a high risk environment, their resilience and belief in themselves.
If you are sitting in a corporate job right now and itching to experiment and break out, then the barrier to success probably isn’t your intellectual ability…you are just as smart as the people you read about. Your success will have a lot more to do with your ability to take risks and then operate with that risk hanging over your head, capitalize on lucky breaks and persist when things look grim…even when every bone in your body is telling you to give up and hide.
This way of living is not for everyone, but don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from experimenting.