Who Is The Smartest Person You Ever Met? -- What Made Them Standout

There are many ivy leaguers who are hard-working, consistent, and ambitious. But nobody would ever go so far to call thema genius. 

I'm interested in hearing stories about people you have met in finance and outside of it that you would describe as a genius. What made them standout? 

I'm not using this to brag, not even an ivy leaguer. My 'iq' is probably average for a Duke student (where I go to school). Just don't think that I have ever met a genius, and I'm interested in hearing stories

Comments (43)

 
Feb 20, 2021 - 11:53pm

My business advisor is the smartest person I have ever met. She went to an Ivy then a Hedge Fund, then life coach at FAANG. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Feb 20, 2021 - 11:56pm

Actually now that I think about it, the smartest person was actually this dude I know that worked at Citadel in HFT equities. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Most Helpful
Feb 21, 2021 - 12:07am

Tough. I'd say it's a toss up between financeabc and neink. Gonna be hard though, they are the Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton of our era

 
Feb 21, 2021 - 4:19am

I have a friend from high school who went to MIT, and then received PhD candidacy as a sophomore. He had a 4.0 GPA for undergrad, and without giving anything away, he completed some very serious, renowned research on a common disease. He worked for 1 year at one of the top quant hedge funds, then he quit to create a start-up, and received $2M+ of venture capital funding at age 24. He was a true genius, even at age 18, easily one of the smartest people I've ever met, and he actually had some decent social skills too. 

 
Feb 21, 2021 - 6:01pm

depends what you mean by iQ. intelligence is subjective obviously. if you watch the Paul Tudor jones documentary, you wouldn't think he was smart, but he was making billions in his 20s, during the doc. 

 
Feb 21, 2021 - 6:03pm

BumbleBee45

I'm not using this to brag, not even an ivy leaguer. My 'iq' is probably average for a Duke student (where I go to school). Just don't think that I have ever met a genius, and I'm interested in hearing stories

Genius level IQ is only 140+. I've met someone with a 168 IQ. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Feb 21, 2021 - 7:59pm

I read the book Outliers last week while on vacation (was on the bookshelf at the house rental).  It's as much a parental book as it is something for your career.  Anyways, the book spoke a lot about IQ and the importance of being smart enough combined with other life factors that prepare you.  It made me think, by the time you read the book, it's probably too late for you to become an Outlier (10,000 hours of experience needed, prob starting when you are very young).  

According to the book, 140 IQ or higher, it doesn't matter, by at that point the incremental IQ isn't going to matter much. 
 

 

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
 
Feb 21, 2021 - 10:54pm

Good book. Fun fact, a lot of my family lives in Roseto, PA, which made an appearance in that book. Spent my summers down there as a kid. I don't think the tight community is what it used to be, but it's definitely still there in some regards. Not relevant to your comment, but I always remember how Roseto had a couple minutes of fame from that book. A lot of people in my family there absolutely suck, but some are really sweet and our friends there are great.

Dayman?
 
Feb 22, 2021 - 1:59am

Nightman Cometh

Good book. Fun fact, a lot of my family lives in Roseto, PA, which made an appearance in that book. Spent my summers down there as a kid. I don't think the tight community is what it used to be, but it's definitely still there in some regards. Not relevant to your comment, but I always remember how Roseto had a couple minutes of fame from that book. A lot of people in my family there absolutely suck, but some are really sweet and our friends there are great.

That's cool.  The studies mentioned were really insightful.  Thanks for sharing some your experience with that place.  
 

On my side of the world, Okinawa is a place where people live a long time maybe for similar reasons as Roseto, PA.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
 
Feb 23, 2021 - 2:17pm

If you start putting in massive amounts of effort with laser focus it is not hard to get 10,000 hours in 2.5-3 years.

100 hour weeks X

52 weeks in a year X

2 years =

10,400 hours

It can even be done in 4-5 years working a full time job outside of finance/law/medicine. 

 
Feb 21, 2021 - 8:18pm

The real genius caliber folks are mostly in hard STEM focused paths, and so if you didn't major in math, physics etc., it is unlikely you'll know them and they usually aren't the going out type either. It takes a myriad of things to be good at making money, being a genius is not necessarily one of them. I studied math in undergrad and attended the joint mathematics meetings one year. Let me tell you that if the first people that come to mind for you when you think "smart" are finance/consulting types, then you have probably never met one of these truly genius/savant types. The average individual at these conferences is so beyond the people you find in banking, consulting etc., you really can't even understand until after having interacted with a few of them. They often lack the social/sales skills to make tons of money, and often don't care about money anyway. The only people in finance that are close would be quant PhDs at a place like rentech or something.

 
Feb 21, 2021 - 8:20pm

basically they're autistes. I've met a few in my time.

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 22, 2021 - 1:04am

In high school a student that was kicked out out of Stuyvesant, a specialized high school considered one of the best high schools in the US, transferred to my school. To get into Stuyvesant, you need to take an exam in Junior High School, like an SAT test, and score really high to get admitted. Anyways, the kid was super smart and social, but lazy when it came to coming to class and doing homework, and why he was kicked out of Stuy. He would only come to class once a week, and ace all exams. His essays were praised by my history teacher, and it was awkward because the teacher would talk about his essay in class yet he was never there. I remember he would brag about finding a loop hole in an online poker site, and showed us two paypal accounts with 100k each, it was insane.

One day he never came back to school and sometime later we caught up and learned he was interning at NASA. Not sure where he is now, but I've never met someone with so much raw intelligence, in addition to being so social.

 

 
Feb 23, 2021 - 12:42pm

Analyst 1 in IB - Ind

In high school a student that was kicked out out of Stuyvesant, a specialized high school considered one of the best high schools in the US, transferred to my school. To get into Stuyvesant, you need to take an exam in Junior High School, like an SAT test, and score really high to get admitted. Anyways, the kid was super smart and social, but lazy when it came to coming to class and doing homework, and why he was kicked out of Stuy. He would only come to class once a week, and ace all exams. His essays were praised by my history teacher, and it was awkward because the teacher would talk about his essay in class yet he was never there. I remember he would brag about finding a loop hole in an online poker site, and showed us two paypal accounts with 100k each, it was insane.

One day he never came back to school and sometime later we caught up and learned he was interning at NASA. Not sure where he is now, but I've never met someone with so much raw intelligence, in addition to being so social.

 

Why does every person I meet who attended Stuy always have the urge to constantly remind everyone around them that they went to Stuy?

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 23, 2021 - 12:59pm

Interesting. The people that I knew that went to Stuy were really humble and would never talk to people about their school unless asked. Generally, kids that go there are stressed, miserable, and humble.

 
Feb 22, 2021 - 7:52am

As some others have noted, there is a difference between really smart, driven and successful people and actual autistic savant smart.

One of the smartest people I've known was my grandfather. He was from a blue collar background and left school to work in industry as an early teen to help support the family. After a couple of years, the foreman encouraged him to attend night school because he was a smart kid. He went on to study physics, and worked in Scotland on the experimental fast breeder nuclear reactor program. He went back into academia and spent the rest of his life as a lecturer and doing odd bits of research/industry consulting.

 
  • Intern in PE - Growth
Feb 22, 2021 - 9:40am

Banged an older woman from Hinge once that just ripped me a new one in conversation. She also was like 12 years older, Oxbridge educated and suuuuper leftist. The things we do for the things we want...

 
Feb 23, 2021 - 9:07am

Also, I doubt that she was that smart in her political views.  The Left's views are inherently simplistic and childish: free stuff for everyone and everyone should be equal in all regards. If the foundations of your ideas are divorced from basic common sense, it really doesn't matter if you have a PhD. That's why so often the arguments turn into the accusing the other side of being racist, greedy, evil, or against science. The arguments on the Left are just not that good in most categories of discussion....

The only time that I see people truly get crushed in an argument by a leftist is when the conservative/libertarian in question does not understand the arguments of their own side well enough. For example, you're arguing that minimum wage would cause rampant inflation or something along those lines.

 
Feb 22, 2021 - 12:08pm

That I've ever listened to: Eric Weinstein or Lex Fridman, probably. 
 

That I've personally known: Grant and Steven. Both went to HS with me and we all took AP Physics II together, one of them went on to study nanotechnology, worked at NASA, and is now earning his PhD to study the capturing of energy at the atomic level. The other also studied nanotechnology, earning his BS and MS from Penn in 4.5 years. What made me realize they were next level is their ability to read something once and have it locked into memory. We'd compete on doing calc in our heads too, I'd get smoked. I went to middle school with Steven and 6 years later, he still remembered my middle school email (it was my name with random numbers, nothing special or anything- and not anything easy like 4206969).

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • 1
 
Feb 22, 2021 - 12:47pm

My middle brother. Yes he has all the credentials including a PhD in the sciences from a top school and has  had tremendous success in many venues over the yrs. But what makes him stand out is:

1. His ability to digest an insane amount of material quickly (like immediately) and both master and communicate it as a thought leader. He has been an expert witness before congress numerous times.

2. His pure desire and interest in obtaining knowledge. I guess I would call that innate curiosity. He just likes learning things. Always has going back to a very young age. He's the kind of guy who will pull an all nighter to take a deep dive on topic X and be quite conversant by the morning. Then he really digs in and becomes expert. All on quite a wide spectrum. 

It's fascinating speaking with him about lots of things as I leave those conversations thinking geez I never thought of that approach or possibility or causal effect or whatever.

 
Feb 22, 2021 - 9:46pm

Nice

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
 
Feb 22, 2021 - 10:48pm

My buddy works at the CIA/NSA or something like that as a top-level analyst who makes presentations to Congress behind closed doors. He's a polymath. He patented a jet engine and is a licensed engineer. He pursued (to failure) an eye surgery technique for permanent vision correction. He has built houses by himself without any help (physical or otherwise). He's a Bible expert. And he's gregarious and a very good conversationalist. His wife is also unbelievably, incomprehensibly hot. She's so hot that it's depressing hanging around her.  

Array

  • 1
 
Feb 22, 2021 - 11:01pm

I think you can just tell by talking to people. My friend is probably not the smartest guy I ever met, but an incredible combination of clever and smart (and lazy). You can tell when you talk him that he sees people and society in terms of numbers and systems.

  • In video games, he plays low skill characters and wins by recognizing an opponents patterns and leverages in the game mechanics became comfortably diamond in league - not technically proficient to meaningfully stay challenger.
  • he'd churn credit cards and exploit buggy reward systems. One time papa johns had a promotion where every day you bought a pizza, you'd get a free one the day after. But, the page was busted. If you just bought any item the reward would renew. So we had gross ass pizza with a cup of unopened $0.25 ranch dressing for a week before he started giving it away. 
  • Never met someone more brutally precise when insulting other people. 

The last time I saw him, he was working 4 days a week and played ping pong 2hrs a day at his office. I asked how he managed it. And he brushed it off as unspectacular,  "I just finish all my work and nobody bothers me." Just checked his Linkedin, he keeps getting promoted. 

 
Feb 23, 2021 - 9:12pm
Start Discussion

Popular Content See all

LETS FKING GO BOYS
+133IBby Intern in Corporate Finance">Intern in CorpFin
You Did it Citi
+120OFFby 2nd Year Analyst in Investment Banking - Industry/Coverage">Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
HELP: Sticky Situation with Boss
+109OFFby 2nd Year Analyst in Investment Banking - Mergers and Acquisitions">Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Idgaf anymore
+31IBby 1st Year Analyst in Investment Banking - Industry/Coverage">Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Anyone else just want out of this shit?
+28IBby 2nd Year Analyst in Investment Banking - Generalist">Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Evercore Target Schools?
+26BSCHby Prospective Monkey in Investment Banking - Mergers and Acquisitions">Prospect in IB-M&A
To Snitch or not to Snitch?
+19OFFby 2nd Year Analyst in Investment Banking - Industry/Coverage">Analyst 2 in IB - Ind

Total Avg Compensation

March 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (31) $349
  • Associates (162) $231
  • 2nd Year Analyst (97) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (92) $144
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (23) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (370) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (306) $82

Leaderboard See all

1
LonLonMilk's picture
LonLonMilk
98.5
2
Jamoldo's picture
Jamoldo
98.4
3
Secyh62's picture
Secyh62
98.3
4
CompBanker's picture
CompBanker
97.8
5
redever's picture
redever
97.7
6
frgna's picture
frgna
97.6
7
Addinator's picture
Addinator
97.6
8
Edifice's picture
Edifice
97.5
9
NuckFuts's picture
NuckFuts
97.5
10
bolo up's picture
bolo up
97.5