Friday, December 08, 2006

Gifted Adults (and Grindhopping)

This post will be both about a serious topic... and a shameless plug for my new book, which I just learned is now available at (not just for pre-order; they're actually shipping! You can order in time for Christmas, in case anyone on your list likes career books). It's called Grindhopping: Build a Rewarding Career without Paying Your Dues, and is published by McGraw-Hill. The thesis is that if you're a young, ambitious person with out-of-the-box career aspirations, you don't have to pay your dues in the corporate grind to get anywhere. You can hop out of it, and build a micro-business or freelancing venture doing what you love, without much capital or experience. Indeed, thanks to technology, there's never been an easier time to do just that.

So what does this have to do with gifted education? Well, it turns out that Grindhoppers, as I call them, are often grown-up gifted children (gifted adults, in the official terminology.) Like gifted children, gifted adults tend to have certain characteristics that make them different from average. There's a list of some of the characteristics posted here.

Many of these characteristics make climbing up a typical corporate hierarchy difficult. For instance, gifted adults tend to be perfectionist, both toward themselves and others. There's little "go along to get along." They can also be very aware of slights and moral issues, all of which are part and parcel of group dynamics. They often feel out-of-sync with others, so they don't like to identify with groups. They question authority and rules. They have many interests and learn things rapidly -- far faster than a career track ("we promote people to senior account manager only after 3 years") says they can.

Of course, while all these characteristics make climbing a hierarchy unpleasant, they make gifted adults into great entrepreneurs. As anyone who's run a business knows, when you're in charge, and when it's your idea on the line, you have to learn to do everything. You have to learn to do it yesterday. And you have to be better than everyone else at what you do, which makes perfectionism a good thing. You can also run your business based on whatever morality you think is right. For instance, one of my Grindhoppers' new start-up ventures, GreenPrint, was profiled yesterday in Walter Mossberg's column in the Wall Street Journal. GreenPrint stops your printer from printing wasted pages, e.g., ones with just a line of text, like the copyright statement at the bottom of a webpage. This particular Grindhopper really values the environment, and so can run a company that exists both to make money and to save trees.

I certainly did not ask my subjects' IQs, nor did I ask if they'd been in gifted classes growing up. But I could certainly sense the same impatience that I'm sure many readers of this blog see in their children.


Quiltsrwarm said...

Laura, you have described me to a T! I tried corporate -- HATED it! Tried non-profit (a lot like corporate, BTW) -- HATED it! Ran my own Internet business before businesses were on the Internet -- LOVED IT! Had to give it up when kid #3 came along, but LOVED IT!

My oldest is highly gifted, she struggled with school and the "fit the mould" mentality, so we pulled her to homeschool. Now, she runs her own eBay business -- can you believe it, an 11yo running a business?! She has learned more in the last three months of doing this than she would have ever learned in 12 years of school, and certainly the laws of economics would not have been as vivid. What you state in your "shameless plug", Laura, is so true and makes me want to go get your book...

Thanks for your energy toward this blog -- it always gives me the reaffirmation of my decisions that I need. :-)

ienjoysoup said...

personally... i love shameless promotion!

going to take a look at it....... I am currently experiencing this having just gone back into the "work world". After only 4 months, i realize why I left..... lol

good luck!

Anonymous said...

Congradulations Laura!
I'm so pleased you have addressed this important topic! LOL - I just asked to Moderator to add a forum on Gifted Adults (or Gifted Ex-Children, as I like to call us - not sure exactly why) Then I linked over here to see your blog! Nice! I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Arne said...

Dear Laura,

I have recently published an article which I think you might like. http://www.

I salute you


Edith said...

Fitting the mold can be very much like a cage. Being an entrepreneur and being gifted do have a strong correlation. Understanding how to use your gifts and what environment works best for you is key. Thanks for the post and the book. Looking forward to a good read.