Imagination vs. intelligence [*guest post*]

I bumped in to an enlightening thread on Quora with five folks in the community chewing on the topic. Have an inspired read:

If you’re trying to just be an average contributing member of society – imagination is not important at all, and intelligence is somewhat important. If you’re trying to break new ground, well, intelligence is more important than the previous scenario, but imagination is even more important. — Arko Sen

Intelligence is raw horsepower. Imagination is able to think outside the box. In a metaphor, computing processes tend to only deal with what has been programmed in. It can chop it up in many different ways but is based on what was presented. We call them concrete thinkers. Imaginers are able to use the light of their mind and image something never seen before. It adds a quality to the basics the machine can never foresee. Afterwords it might seem so obvious but then it has already been revealed. — Mike Leary

Intelligence is the ability to recognize concepts in situ, as well as apply them as stated. Imagination is the ability and the willingness to apply textbook concepts to situations where they don’t necessarily fit. Imagination allows one to see connections between things that intelligence may not see directly. Imagination is the fuel for creativity. Along with imagination, one must have the willingness to pursue it…even into the realm of the absurd. — Drew Spevak

Intelligence is knowing the rules. With good knowledge of rules, player has a high chance of winning. Success. Imagination is breaking away from the rules. Success now, has nothing to do with the rules or the game or winning. Living. — Anonymous

In order to invent something that is not, you have to be able to imagine it as though it existed. This requires something more than just plain logic and facts. New ideas do not leap out of physical reality by themselves. They have to be pulled out of our imagination kicking and screaming. — Robert J. Kolker


Selfishness is the accused and misleads the jury, epitomizing the advantage of likability in litigation.  Selfishness deserves an eloquent defense attorney.  It holds evidence to support a case in favor.

We assign selfishness to a wide range of behavior.  It’s largely understood to be an ego-centric personality flaw, serving only the individual who employs it.  But it’s a catch-all, circumstantially justified, and too quick to prescribe.  By weathering through the inclination to judge (others or ourselves), we can visualize what selfishness might be up to on a longer scale.  We don’t want to impair rise of thought or action that warrants celebration.

There is selflessness in selfishness.  While contradictory in audible, we can unpack the architecture of a self-serving decision and breathe clarity into both the value of the act and the intention of the actor.

We’re constantly taking self-inventory on the kingdom of our disposition — assessing qualities worth honoring and others standing to benefit from upgrade or revision.

It’s an inherent system we all share.  If the ego’s echo carries the farthest in your internal dialogue, he’ll do what he does best: manipulate the decision-making that reflects corrosive, selfish behavior harming others and yourself in the process.  But it’s self-love that speaks softly and carries the biggest stick.  Give her the floor.

Nurture your body, mind, and spirit.  The practical application of this ideology casts broadly, but to be what we’d call selfless, not selfish — to do for another without fine print reciprocity — we must first love ourselves, and live intentionally as such.  The value and growth incubated from investing in self-loving behavior gets passed on to those around you.  Those you love.  And here’s the enchantment of our nature: the more you unconditionally love yourself, the more you unconditionally love others.  All others.  And ego-centric selfishness is no match for unconditional love.

Why let the ego sentence a punishment when self-love sets you free?

Go be selfish.  Case closed.

A Social Experiment

At what point in a new interaction does a stranger become a friend?

For the meat of 2017, I travelled around Europe, Asia and the U.S.  A one-way ticket to London to see a friend for a long weekend blossomed into a serendipitous, unplanned year-long journey across 16 countries.  My experience unfolded not by itinerary, but at the mercy of the road.

I touched down in Amsterdam after a couple weeks in London and the British countryside to visit an old colleague from New York, now a Dutch expat.  She was kind enough to open her home and friends to me – it occurred to me at that moment I wanted to make conscious choices moving forward to pry open and orient myself to not only meeting new people, but meeting with intention – with each introduction making a genuine, enhanced effort to maximize the depth of the conversation and thus, the connection.  To uncover the authentic and special qualities of another – their soul – bypassing that guard, that filter, that investment in self-protection, can require an artful and careful diligence.

The more I practiced, the more I succeeded.  This framework of thought informed the theme of my travels.  I became a “yes man” – revising my interpretation of facing fear and venturing outside my comfort zone as remarkable opportunities for personal growth and enrichment.  I tamed my impulse judgements on people or ideas and welcomed any and all with an open mind and heart.  Kamal Ravikant, an author and investor, says “on the other side of fear is magic.”  Easy to dismiss as cliche, but I encourage you to try it and tell me what you find.

By most measures, it’s no easy feat to roam around the world and meet new people.  There’s an environmental bottleneck in most situations – starting a conversation in a cafe with the person sitting across from you, walking up to someone who looks interesting at a pub, etc.  We need organic, intimate formats that make meeting new people easy and natural, not doctored or nerve-wracking.

Break bread, drown ice, make new friends.

When I reflect on my travels, my most vivid and appreciative moments are those over a shared meal with strangers.  Circling back to my time in Amsterdam, I found myself seated around a dinner table one evening in a beautiful flat with eight acquaintances from five different countries.  We cooked a simple dish, opened bottles of wine, shared laughs and stories.  The energy between us was remarkable.  I sat back in my seat and had a moment of hyper-awareness to what I was experiencing.  The hidden obvious revealed itself – strangers are only strangers until they’re not.  Cultural (social/political/environmental) conditioning develops very convincing falsities that lead us to believe we’re all largely different from one another, but here I was at a particularly unique vantage point – panning around the table witnessing the joy of foreign company, connecting as humans in a very real way.

Being back in New York City over a year later is a sharp reminder of what cultural conditioning can do to people.  This city can harden you, close you, and chain you to thoughts and routines celebrated by the cultural flow state.  Relationships here can be very transactional and despite being one of the biggest cities in the world, it can feel shockingly lonely.  I have a strong conviction that cultural conditioning, and even personal interests or the types of people we’re typically drawn to, is just a surface layer – penetrable and malleable.  Beneath it is a common bond that extends across humanity – we want, need and can have connection with people fundamentally different than ourselves.

This belief comes with a test predicated on a sense of responsibility to share what I was so fortunate to experience on the road.  I’m going to organize dinner parties with strangers – we’ll cook a dish in a beautiful New York City apartment, have some drinks, share some laughs.  If you feel a sense of discomfort or intimidation as you read that, good.  That means you have an opportunity to find magic on the other side of fear.

And that magic might be the gift of friendship.

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Buy the seller

This is a common expression shared by folks in the vintage watch community.  It reminds buyers that beyond the required due diligence (given the volume of ersatz and inconsistent examples in the market), an absolute conviction in the reputation of the seller must inform your commitment to do business.

Here, the notion of buying the seller is obvious.  It’s also easier to evaluate a purchasing decision when you’re face to face, one to one.  Perhaps we find such joy and ease in supporting small, local businesses because the experience is palpable.

Conversely, larger enterprises behind the products and services we purchase don’t always imbue us with that comforting presence of the tender human touch.  We sense the void when we consume their marketing content, visit their stores, engage with their employees.  It can feel like a doctored, visceral inauthenticity.

Here, the notion of buying the seller is often cloaked by several cascading layers.  A seller with resources can craft whatever narrative they choose – behind a marketing campaign is spend, behind spend is a product, behind a product is a process, behind a process is a seller, and behind the seller is his or her intentions.

To buy from a seller is to finance their intentions.

Organizations that make meaningful and public investments in their product quality, supply chain, employees, the environment, charity and the like can be great indicators of integrity and value driven intention.  It brings their footprint on the world full circle, swiveling around a nourishment of the human experience.

The seller you buy from is a choice.  And a choice worth considering carefully.

Christmas can come early this year

An emerging trend has tapped me on the shoulder, asked I pay attention and track her.

An indulgence in holiday spirit has announced itself far earlier this Fall than past. Folks are glowing with the coming season. And they’re not afraid to show it.

It’s like a virus adopted on contact. The moment you enter the home of a peer who’s already been infected – Nat Cole puts chestnuts to fire, baking sugar aroma flirts with you from the kitchen, or stringed lights dance around the ceiling like souls departing from body to Heaven – you are transformed. Inflated by Christmas joie de vivre.

Maybe this is the beautiful manifestation of our culture being in a deep time of need for peace, love, and grace. An idea lost on our media institution that force feeds a doctored narrative outlining only what highlights the worst and uncommon aspects of human nature. I think this conscious intentionality for truth distortion is a cry for help either way.  As individuals, we typically lash out with words or actions antithetical to what we wholly need. So it shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise to witness it through the distribution methods of our media. An organization is simply the makeup of the individuals that operate it after all.

So in the spirit of the holidays, joining in on the cheer – early or incrementally – may be your chance to hold a candle in this choir. Even just flickers do their part in diluting darkness.

Give yourself permission.


Opinions – we all have them.

And rightfully so.  It’s an important part of progress and culture to communicate our thoughts with conviction.

With equal conviction, however, we need to welcome opposition.  Challenging stances is a pressure cooker for creativity, innovation, and hidden solutions. So we shouldn’t bow away from it just because the process involved can be confrontational and worse, political.

Consider this opportunity as a boxing match between two ideas, not two people – an important distinction.  Each side exchanging a right hook of values, an uppercut of logic, and a jab of imagination.  The good news is a draw or K.O. are both wins here.

Sacrificing outcomes by not having an opinion or challenging another gnaws at the achilles heal of making a difference.

. . . in my opinion.