Ever Met a Genius or Prodigy? Where Are They Now?

ColdCaller's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 537

I guess there are two sides to these kinds of stories: the geniuses that used their intelligence to achieve big things in their careers/lives and the ones that didn't.

The terms "genius" and "prodigy" are used pretty loosely these days so I guess the answers to this question is up to your interpretation of these terms.

Comments (66)

Oct 2, 2018

Getting their PHD at Harvard.

Oct 2, 2018

A variety.
Two dudes who went on doing maths phds respectively at Cambridge and Oxford.
Another guy who had a burnout and left Wall Street, now does marketing.
Another one had a significantly darker ending.
One guy that works with me has an alleged 170 IQ according to company tests. Finally a good friend of mine who's trying to salvage the mess his father left him with. He's rather depressed.

Oct 10, 2018

how many prodigies do you know? i thought they were rare...

Oct 10, 2018

They are. I met most of those through bizarre and rather unique circumstances.
I'm also talking about either polyglots (7+languages fluently), incredibly high IQ(150+), or that finished university at incredible young age. Those might overlap.

Oct 2, 2018

Smartest kid I ever knew od'd... can happen to anyone

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Oct 3, 2018

Yeah, sad reality

Oct 2, 2018

Only one guy in undergrad who was truly heads and tails above everyone else, and I studied in a top university in a rigorous engineering/math program. He had a photographic memory, double majored in engineering and math, never once saw him take a note in class, and he would fairly often correct mathematical errors made by professors when they were teaching. He was also fairly social and normal as well, not some eccentric genius who people can't stand. I heard he got a 43 out of 45 on the old MCAT, which is absurd, and I know he went to medical school at Hopkins. I believe he is now a nerurologist or neurosurgeon or something along those lines.

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Funniest
Oct 3, 2018

Working as a janitor at M.I.T.

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Oct 3, 2018

One is a professor, the other is a rather famous tech individual, and the other is my brother who is retired at 30. I am unfortunately the dumb one of the family, but I am the best looking. I have that going for me.

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Oct 3, 2018

Haha fair point

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Oct 4, 2018

What business did your brother get into?

Oct 4, 2018
theaccountingmajor:

What business did your brother get into?

Tech, was a top 10ish employee at semi-large tech firm that was just acquired. Made off like a bandit

Oct 3, 2018

despite going to magnet and "gifted" schools up until high school (surfing was more important than pre calc to me), I think I've only really known 2 really prodigious intellectuals. tons of hard workers with above average intellect (like 120-140 IQ types), but very few people who I thought "they're just on another level."

one founded a software company after graduating college a year early (top public school), the other one grows pot and teaches snowboarding in colorado. the one in CO aced every exam he ever took and never studied.

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Oct 4, 2018

"... tons of hard workers with above average intellect (like 120-130 IQ types), but very few people who I thought "they're just on another level.""

This is beyond accurate. There are people that are amazingly skilled in the craft, but most of the time, it's a function of time spent in a discipline x above average intellect. I'd consider myself in this area.

But when I think of "prodigy" / "genius", I think of those with photographic memories (Luck SoB's) and those where the abstract comes almost naturally (e.g. theoretical mathematics, chess).

The two guys I know with photographic memories were also natural merit scholars. One also lives in CO, grows pot and works odd jobs. The other is a financial controller in CA. They would never show up to class, flip through slides for a few hours before class and hit 95+'s on exams that were rote memorization. It just took these individuals 3 - 4x less time than your average individual to have the same recall.

The other guy would be my brother. The guy lives in his own world with concepts that a very slim margin of the population understands. Still waiting to see where he goes with it all.

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Oct 3, 2018

Smartest kid I ever knew was from my high school. He's on another level compared to anyone else I've ever met. I remember talking to him back in high school, and just thinking, "Wow, I'm talking to someone who is going to be very, very successful in whatever he does." Extremely social and likable too.

He was always working on start-ups in high school, and I even remember when he was traveling across the United States when we were just juniors and seniors in high school, talking to investors for some start-up he created. Physics grad from MIT undergrad, now he just launched another start-up that provides "smart-routing" for cryptocurrencies, had more than a few million in funding at age 22.

Oct 4, 2018

kid from high school ended up doing princeton/phd now at MIT focusing on aerospace i believe. He was smart but he also put int the work. never let me look at his shit during tests/quizes and would cover up his paper LOL.

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Oct 4, 2018

Burnt out

Oct 4, 2018

Guy was a senior when I was a freshman. Knew him because our dads were friends. Kid had some crazy research job out of college that usually hires people for those roles who did analyst stints at GS/MS/JPM. Now he works for Two Sigma and I hear he loves it.

Oct 4, 2018

In the NFL playing professional football

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Oct 4, 2018

He's being investigated by the SEC.

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Oct 4, 2018

A high school classmate - is the only person in the last 60 or so years that has medals from international olympiads in both math and physics. Currently doing his PhD at Cambridge and MIT after undergrad at Harvard. Not too shabby.

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Oct 14, 2018

hey, I'm also Bulgarian. I can't PM you but it would be great to talk to you. Can you PM me?

Oct 4, 2018

Still my d-bag little bro. Doing engineering shit but married right out of college, I really worry his personal potential (as a contributor to the "world") will never be fully realized as he starts a family and opts to take on less work responsibility, but he seems happy with his life now and he wasn't when he was just breezing through high school and undergrad.

Oct 4, 2018

He's my boss

Oct 5, 2018

My main business partner is fucking brilliant. He made several million by his early twenties completely bootstrapped.

Oct 5, 2018

I've met a couple of hedge fund analysts that were really impressive. Rapid firing questioning and just picking apart any inconsistency with an understanding of extreme minutia. Could do complex calculations in their head at the blink of an eye.

That said, the sad part is how many hedge fund guys I've met who are just slightly above average intelligence and don't add any value. If you've ever wondered why these guys can't beat the S&P 500, go talk to about a hundred of them. You will be underwhelmed to say the least.

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Oct 14, 2018
NoEquityResearch:

That said, the sad part is how many hedge fund guys I've met who are just slightly above average intelligence and don't add any value. If you've ever wondered why these guys can't beat the S&P 500, go talk to about a hundred of them. You will be underwhelmed to say the least.

Spend some time talking to VCs. They ALWAYS think they are the smartest person/people in the room, and they are almost always wrong.

Oct 15, 2018
TechBanking:
NoEquityResearch:

That said, the sad part is how many hedge fund guys I've met who are just slightly above average intelligence and don't add any value. If you've ever wondered why these guys can't beat the S&P 500, go talk to about a hundred of them. You will be underwhelmed to say the least.

Spend some time talking to VCs. They ALWAYS think they are the smartest person/people in the room, and they are almost always wrong.

Yeah... slightly above average people who know who they are may not make you rich, but you won't lose your shirt.

Slightly above average people who got insanely lucky once and now think they're a genius will put you in the poorhouse.

Oct 5, 2018

Just looked him up on Facebook. Looks like he went to Berkeley for undergrad and a PhD in math.

Oct 5, 2018

ama

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/

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Oct 6, 2018

Haha, wish I could SB!

Oct 5, 2018

Yeah back in highschool this guy was crushing science fairs placing near first in North American competitions. He was doing something with energy or something like that. Anyway, MIT Chem Eng --> Mckinsey Houston. Interested to see how he'll progress. A shame he chased the dollars instead of pursuing his research.

Oct 5, 2018

I was friends in college with two Serbian rowers who both have photographic memories, it is unbelievable.

Oct 5, 2018

Reid Barton - met him once during college. I was an undergrad while he was a graduate student in Mathematics. I was able to meet him through my college roommates (who, incidentally, were all math majors and brilliant in their own right), but even that single encounter was enough to convince me Reid Barton is hands down the most intelligent human being I have ever met in my life.

Some highlights:
Scored a 5 on AP Calculus exam - at age 10... (I wasn't even doing Algebra yet at age 10...)
Took college-level Chemistry and Physics classes in the 5th and 6th grade
4x Gold Medal winner in International Math Olympiad during high school (including a perfect score in 2001)
4x Putnam Fellow in college

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Oct 6, 2018

Interesting. What happened to this dude? Reading online it looks like he ended up at RenTech, but those may just be rumors.

Oct 6, 2018

Studied with both in my engineering class. One did a PhD/MD at Cornell the other founded a biotech company after his PhD in chemical/biomolecular engineering - his company is taking off in a major way currently. The biotech founder was also a total badass in other aspects of life, it was a privilege to study next to these guys.

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Most Helpful
Oct 6, 2018

My brother. Dude is a god -- not necessarily a genius, but he's a grinder. He was promoted to VP after three years with (MS/GS/JPM), one as analyst, two as assoc., and now he's a VP. No family connections, just put the work in up-front and shit pays off. Also has a dime girlfriend. Really proud of him.

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Oct 9, 2018

Used to sell froyo to two Irish brothers who had both scored the highest recorded score on some standardized test in Ireland, went to Harvard (at least one of them did), and dropped out to move to Silicon Valley and start a YC-backed payments startup. The froyo place I worked was their second office.

They're still running the same company, and just raised a round at a $20bn pre.

Oct 10, 2018

this sounds a lot like the story of Patrick Collison and John Collison

Oct 11, 2018

What suicide part??

Oct 9, 2018

I know of two.

One is divorced with a kid and works at the NSA or CIA or something as a code breaker. The other committed suicide.

Oct 10, 2018

The second one is a sad. Was the pressure of "being a genius" just too much for them?

Oct 10, 2018
Nightman Cometh:

The second one is a sad. Was the pressure of "being a genius" just too much for them?

He was a straight-A student in high school with zero effort required, class president, got into the Naval Academy, and pegged the most likely person to succeed in his county. People--and himself, especially--expected big things.

He ended up dropping out of the Naval Academy and taking some mediocre jobs. He spiraled into a deep depression that he never recovered from, and eventually, in his mid-30s, hanged himself. It's a case where failing to meet his own expectations of himself led to his downfall.

Oct 10, 2018

By the amount of people mentioned here you would think being a genius or prodigy is common...

I'm not sure why it's such a surprise especially in this field to be in awe of what seems like a healthy yet more common than not applicant to most Ivy League schools. Near perfect SAT/ACT scores, some even a couple years before normal, people bootstrapping successful businesses in college, etc

In reality, there are a lot of really hard working and talented people. Many of these people go very far in their field of choice. A true genius or prodigy though is an incredibly rare finding, kind of like a unicorn. You may never see one, but you'll hear the stories.

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Oct 11, 2018

I hear what you're saying. I suppose it's hard to define. I mentioned knowing a codebreaker in the NSA/CIA. He's my cousin. He scored a perfect SAT at the age of 14. Not sure if that's "prodigy" material, but a pretty exceptional math mind he is.

Oct 11, 2018

I have been considered a genius among my peers while I was studying at Stanford. But in reality I am just a very wise person. No photographic memory or crazy stuff like that (wish I had it). I do feel like I understand my surroundings and environment better than everyone else around me (good perception). I am also good at spotting errors in patterns (high attention to detail).

I have never considered myself a genius. The smartest kid I know was taking Calc 2 as a 12 year old. We were pretty good friends. We would mess around in our writing classes because neither of us could write for shit. He went off to Rice. He could solve Square roots of weird numbers like 13, 1333, 70, 89 in his head that always amazed me. (Probably not on the Mensa genius level, but still a very smart individual)

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Oct 12, 2018

SB for the first person to mention themselves

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Oct 15, 2018

Very wise, you say.

Wow, just wow!

Oct 17, 2018

Yea, I should be carrying frankincense to Christmas parties.

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Oct 19, 2018

I think the fact that you friend was amazing at math, but shit at writing shows the issue with classifying people geniuses or prodigies - it's often only for one subject and not overall. Even looking at this thread, it's all the STEM geniuses but no mention of the humanities ones.

Oct 19, 2018
cavdrunk:

I think the fact that you friend was amazing at math, but shit at writing shows the issue with classifying people geniuses or prodigies - it's often only for one subject and not overall. Even looking at this thread, it's all the STEM geniuses but no mention of the humanities ones.

Well, genius in the humanities is subjective. What constitutes a brilliant artist? The appreciation of non-art geniuses? What constitutes brilliant literature? That's an ever-evolving target.

Oct 11, 2018

Met one kid during my high school year, most of his time he spent playing video games (strategic games like Dota, Star Craft, etc.). Barely studied or and he got gold medal for International Physics Olympiad at the age of 16. He's currently doing PhD at a top uni in Europe.

Oct 12, 2018

A friend of mine graduated third in my class in high school. Never studied-straight A student. Applied to Harvard - had no intention of going whatsoever, he just wanted to be able to tell people that he got in.

He now runs a pretty successful company selling fishing lures and fishes whenever the hell he wants and does whatever the hell he wants.

Oct 12, 2018

Fortunately for us, a lot of the prodigies ive met went off into the sciences. Within business, one is a PM at a long-only, one I met in BCG and is now an MD at bank within the market infrastructure group, another is at a small hedge fund, and the last one is an oil specialist at a Hedge Fund.

Oct 13, 2018

I went to a pretty selective high school (~5000 applicants:100 seats). There was a lowerclassman who was an absolutely mad genius. Son of a bitch got 100 on all his regents (including physics), never studied, and spent most of his time sleeping or talking about his fascination for boobs (assumed he never felt a pair before, I hope that has changed now).

Once I was a freshman in college, I found out that he had received a 2370/2400 on the SATs. At the time I was thinking about transferring, and since I never broke 2000, I offered him $500 to take my SATs in my place. He agreed, and after all logistics were taken care of, he backed out last minute. His bullshit cost me a $150 fake ID, and the $70 fee.

Oct 14, 2018

Being investigated by FERC.

Oct 14, 2018

can't mention his exact accomplishments because he is very easy to find but he sat GCSE's before he was 10, won international math championships, was invited by oxford for summer camp or something like that, had a few startups before he was 18 and now he is studying in a target in London and works as a consultant in a big 4 firm. He is probably going to graduate with a First while working 70+ hours a week.

Most humble guy I ever met, helped me out because he recognised that I need it (I didn't ask him) and he never mentioned any of his accomplishments. When we were discussing psychometrics he said he was 'good at maths' and I found out about his achievements on LinkedIn a few weeks later. I hope he doesn't see this and recognise himself. If you do, you are awesome man and I thank you for your positive influence on me!

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Oct 14, 2018

guy who works with my father in government defense contracting. Three different degrees from MIT with a 5.0/5.0 in each, actually has a photographic memory. My dad can give him any pages of a book to look at for a minute or so and he can immediately recite what they said verbatim.

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Oct 14, 2018

Easy, he's at Bridgewater.

Oct 16, 2018

Designing shoes for ADIDAS

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Oct 17, 2018
Comment
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Nov 9, 2018
Nov 9, 2018