I once interned at an office with two other students. One of them was my age, hardworking, and extremely passionate. She told me she took on the internship in order to improve her chances at graduate school, to make connections, and because she was actually really interested in the assignments we worked on. She ended up becoming very close to our supervisor (same alma mater) and is currently on the road to accomplishing her goals. I would call her intelligent by all definitions of the world.
The other intern was also "smart" by most definitions-- but was lacking intelligence in some ways. He attended a very prestigious liberal arts college and scored extremely well on standardized exams. However, he was nearly a decade older than us. Why's that? Well, he spent a few years "discovering himself"-- or at least, it was supposed to just be a few years. A gap year turned into five, and before you knew it, he found himself competing for the sameas folks much younger than he.
But it wasn't just the age difference; that's somewhat understandable. Many people are burnt out by college and require time to really get a firm grasp of the real world. What made it increasingly strange was that he was intelligent in the usual sense-- great verbal IQ, solid reasoning skills, math on par, etc.-- but just very weird around people. We've all heard of emotional intelligence, but you don't really appreciate just how crucial it is in the workplace until you meet someone who just doesn't click with people at all. It went beyond mere networking: he literally had difficulty reading people's emotions and comprehending basic social cues (like if someone didn't want to talk to you, they'll talk about how "busy" they are, etc.).
Can you predict how their paths went after the internship? Fast forward to the present day: intern number one is still rapidly working toward her dreams and kicking ass; intern number two just goes from job to job, somewhat directionless.
According to famous developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, there are nine types of intelligences. They span a wide variety of different skills and abilities. Needless to say, musical and naturalist intelligence aren't of significance in high finance or any sort of business-- unless you own a piano shop or a natural conservatory. For the purposes of Wall Street Oasis, the applicable ones are likely logical-mathematical intelligence (number smart), interpersonal intelligence (people smart), linguistic intelligence (word smart), and intra-personal intelligence (self smart). We know that you can't just have one or two of these skills to succeed-- you need to not only be able to think well, stay organized, and do math, but also to set goals, network, and communicate well.
With that said, I'm curious as to what combination of these intelligences you guys think is most important to attain the highest levels of success. If you want to be the next Blankfein, you obviously need an immense amount of logical-mathematical IQ, but how much of it is there that separates a financial leader and a hired quant?
We know that each of these intelligences can be improved with training, practice, and repetition. However, if one were to be aiming for the highest levels of the business world, I would argue that number smart should only be prioritized at the analyst level. At the associate level, self smart, or the ability to manage yourself is key, until you reach the C-level suite, where intra-personal skills are king.