How to Become a Genius Without Being That Smart

David Ogilvy

“First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius.” – David Ogilvy, Born Jun, 23, 1911.

I truncated this quote. Steps two and three only apply if you're working with partners – if you want to know, look it up…

For now, though, I want to focus on what Ogilvy said was his first step for success. And this quote is potent with quality advice for anyone who wants to be someone. Almost every word has value.

MAKE YOURSELF – take control of your own fortunes and destiny. You need to deliberately cause things to happen. It's only in movies and magazine stories where people are “discovered” or things “work out” so that rewards come to the deserving. No. Rewards come to those who seek them and claim them. Get yours. No one will just hand it to you.

REPUTATION – I love that Ogilvy specified that you don't need to actually BE creative or a genius – you just need a reputation for it. Reputation is essentially a word-of-mouth personal branding campaign. You develop one by making promises you keep, and predictions that come true.

BEING – not was. Not used to be. Not has been. You are active. You are a badass as of today. Whatever it is you do, you do it. You're not retired. You're not taking a break. You didn't grow out of it ages ago. Your reputation relies on you maintaining and persisting. Walk the walk.

CREATIVE GENIUS – here is something you maybe didn't know. Creativity is a skill. It's the skill of making connections and finding analogies and metaphors and putting information across in a new and interesting way.

But it doesn't have to be a completely unique from-scratch thing no one has ever seen before. It just has to be fresh, and you can get fresh by combining, interpreting, and reframing existing stuff in a new way.

And you get good at it if you practice. There are exercises and everything to help you get better at it. And almost no one knows this.

Most people think creativity is a talent. You're either born that way, or you're not – is the mistaken assumption of the uncreative masses.

So just a bit of dedicated practice – a small amount of effort – and the people around you will begin to think of you as a genius. They will maybe even call you one. Brilliant is a word people will apply to you with regularity.

But listen – here is the best part. Because everyone believes creativity is an inborn talent, because they feel their own creativity is fickle and fleeting or otherwise nonexistent – you don't have to hit a home run every time.

Your lesser attempts are still appreciated, while your hits are lauded and remembered.

You get a REPUTATION without having an EXPECTATION or DEMAND for this magical mojo you're allegedly good at.

Once you've engineered your reputation, the rest is cake. People give you money just for ideas. Ideas have zero overhead and are infinite in supply. Selling ideas is a good business.

It's also the easiest business…

If you're a creative genius, anyway.

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