I am here to dispel a myth: While I am intelligent, I have not yet reached the level of Einstein. There you go. Now, could you please explain that to my family, friends, coworkers, and business associates.
I am not here to brag about how smart I am. This post merely exists to show you how you can look like a member of Mensa to the average American, with a minimum of effort.
1. Learn to use Google. Are you one of those people who Google stuff all the time, and yet never seem to find anything? What do you do? You go to a professional Googler, like me, and they find “used bungee cords” in a matter of seconds. How?
We know how to talk to Google. While Google is getting smarter, it still has a hard time knowing exactly what you want. If you type in the word “colour”, Google still does not recognize that it is the exact same word as “color”. Google can only process the information we give it.
How many of you have ever used the advanced search portion of Google? Probably 10% or less, and yet that is how you can drill down to what you really want. Is the page less than 10 days old, do you want it in a PDF or Word document? The more you tell Google, the better results you will get.
There are tons of resources online that will show you how to search more accurately. Just Google it.
2. Use spell check, but don’t depend on it. I wish I had dollar for every time I used “their” when I meant “there”, and vice-versa. Also, watch out for “too” and “two”, “who’s” and “whose”. It is also helpful to know the difference between “its” and “it’s”. Spell check will let all these past without a whimper, because they are all spelled correctly. A firm grasp of the meaning of these words will help you evade embarrassment, and give you a more polished image at work and play.
3. Know the difference between “i.e.” and “e.g.”. Want to see a film called “Revenge of the English Majors”? Misuse these, and I can guarantee you a front row seat. Many people use “i.e.” interchangeably with the term “for example”. This is technically wrong. The term i.e. translates from the Latin as “that is”. If you wanted to say “for example”, “e.g.” would be the appropriate abbreviation.
4. Have a basic idea of where things are in the world. When 50% of college aged kids can’t find New York state on a map, you know we’re in trouble as a nation. If you can tell someone that “Niger” is in Africa, then you will be considered a Geography genius.
5. Collect general knowledge, or as most people refer to it, “useless information”. “Useless information” is something of a misnomer. It is only useless if it is never used. You never know when you might need that obscure fact about the gross domestic product of Germany, or how to open a beer with your belt loop. So take great pains to obtain it, and use it to benefit your fellow man.
6. Don’t be afraid to break stuff. We are afraid to mess things up in our culture. You will find that you will accomplish much more than other people by overcoming the fear of screwing things up. Most people don’t build their own computers simply because they are afraid of damaging the parts. I babied every part as I gingerly put my first PC together. Now, I use “fragile” RAM as everything but a Frisbee, and it still works. Experience will teach you what you can and can’t do. So go ahead, take a plunge into the deep end.
7. Don’t be afraid to say “I have no idea”. If I could pass one thing on to you, it would be this. Once you know all this stuff, it becomes harder to admit that you don’t know everything. It’s even harder to watch a person who wanted an answer “right now”, go back to their cube with a dejected look on their face. In the long run, people will respect you for it.
It’s not like they can’t ask Google, right?
Kurt Hartman loves to collect obscure information. He puts it to use every day as an OTR Analyst. Trivia: What does OTR stand for? The acronym actually has two uses: In one usage, it stands for “old time radio”. The other usage is in the phrase “OTR Tires”, which stands for off the road tires . These are the types of tires that go on heavy equipment. Now you know.