It’s 2013 and everything “new” will surely be popping up all around us. And maybe if not in IRL as they say, but then at least online and in lists on lists on lists. And so, say hello to geniuses (or whatever).
In a popular (in clicks) CNN piece called “Unleash the world’s entrepreneurial geniuses,” Beverly Schwartz, vice president of global marketing for Ashoka and author of Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World discussed nurturing the world’s “up to 7 billion geniuses in this world.” Whoa. Wait – really?
How can we nurture the world’s many talented people so they most effectively contribute to the world’s economic health? Start by figuring out what they need to flourish and how to overcome the barriers that stand in their way.
I’m not talking about Silicon Valley software geniuses or corporate business tycoons. I’m talking about the geniuses who are all around us — maybe even the one staring at you in the mirror: Individuals who have solid ideas for developing or marketing products or services that benefit consumers.
They could be immigrants who travel the globe searching for better opportunities for themselves and their families, entrepreneurs-to-be who could be breathing life into communities ripe for revitalization, or social entrepreneurs who find innovative solutions to social challenges and change the world for the better.
Optimism is a virtue or maybe it’s an embellishment of a mix of hard work, luck and perhaps the most optimistic part of it all: privilege. The optimism that Schwartz was advocating, however, was more about supporting entrepreneurship that simply wide-eyed optimism. “Entrepreneurship is a powerful engine that can propel the global agenda forward,” she writes. “It is a major tool for reducing poverty, improving social conditions and confronting environmental challenges. It empowers people and generates solutions that help communities overcome old problems with new ways of thinking. It is an important driver of economic development, job creation and expanding opportunities for women and youth.”
A genius and an entrepreneur (even a social entrepreneur!) is hardly the same thing, but a headline with “genius” will probably garner more clicks on CNN than “entrepreneur.” Why is that though? There’s something about “genius” that precludes hard work and is simply something that just happens and the recipient of the so-called genius-ness in the mainstream is most typically that one person and not the many that the social entrepreneur is said, usually, to serve.