How to Be Brilliant and Rich (or Just Rich)

Can a person rise to the very top of their game in more than one area of life?  Is it possible to be both brilliant and rich?

The Irony of Intelligence addresses that very question. Exploring various interests to enhance our personal development is generally considered admirable. While it may not get the average Joe to be brilliant and rich, such pursuits might offer the average Joe knowledge and experience in diverse areas.  Musical composition and a weekend football league, perhaps. A vast majority of those attempting to do everything on their own may gain the skills honed through regular practice.  However, they are not sharpening their competitive edge.  So our average Joe is a cool guy with varied interests—not an amalgamation of Beethoven and Peyton Manning.  He is aware no amount of practice, even if he devoted a full workday to either of his passions, would advance him to professional heights in musical composition or in football. But that does not stop many people from trying—particularly if they have proven results from mastery achieved in one area.  This is a slippery slope within wealth management where many competent individuals continue to confuse recreational interest and professional mastery.

What separates the smartest, most successful, highly effective people from the herd?

The first group, which is considerably smaller, understand how to distinguish and separate what is in their control vs. what isn’t.  This distinction is critical: highly successful individuals guard their time so as to excel at high level decision making in the areas where they have mastery. This allows them to delegate other activities outside of their circle of competence to experts. To achieve great results in all areas of life they build and employ teams.

When someone is simultaneously the average Joe and the smartest who has risen to the top—what happens then?

Medical doctors are known for this. Typically disciplined learners, they often try to do everything themselves, but, at their own peril. We have seen physicians attempt to create corporations using documents from a website. While it would seem this simple act saves a few bucks, it is ultimately a costly mistake—one avoided by hiring a competent attorney to write the document correctly at the onset.

Is there a secret sauce to “beat” typical investment odds?

The internet has made everyone smarter, however, if everyone is, this does no one any good.  It is the amount of information you have relative to others that allows you to win. If you are invited to play in a poker game with four other people who have just begun learning to play, assuming you have played a bit more than the others, it’s likely you will win. However, if you are invited to a poker game with four others who have competed in the “World Series of Poker,” walk away immediately. Getting smarter will not help you if others are getting smarter at the same rate; it will generally be more effective to find a new game.

So is there a recipe to make consistent, well-informed, successful decisions?

Perhaps avoiding statistical failure is the first step. To read the full version of this post, visit The Irony of Intelligence on

“If you’ve been in the game 30 minutes and you don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.”—Warren Buffett

The Irony of Intelligence originally appeared on and was later published on the Huffington