Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Uses This Trick to Identify Intelligent People

"The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding."

When it comes to identifying intelligence in people, Jeff Bezos relies on a specific strategy. The Amazon founder reportedly looks for individuals who are capable of admitting when they're wrong and willing to change their minds when necessary.

As Inc. reports, Bezos discussed his trick for finding smart people to surround himself with when he stopped by the offices of web app Basecamp a few years ago. Instead of looking at how often people are right, the CEO explained why he takes a counterintuitive method and recognizes when people admit that they're wrong.

Bezos observed that "the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they'd already solved," Basecamp founder Jason Fried recalls in a company blog. Fried states the billionaire businessmen also identified smart people as being "open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking,"


According to Bezos' philosophy, consistency is highly overrated. To be highly intelligent, you have to be willing to change your mind often. "He doesn't think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait," Fried said of Bezos, per Inc. "It's perfectly healthy -- encouraged, even -- to have an idea tomorrow that contradicts your idea today."

Flexibility plays a key factor in many of Bezos' ideas about success and productivity. The CEO has previously discussed how he prefers to navigate his busy schedule. To avoid having "high-IQ" meetings late in the day, he schedules his most important conferences for the mid-morning when he's at his most alert. If a conflict pops up, he doesn't reschedule the meeting for late just to try to get it as soon as possible, but pushes it to the next day when he'll be refueled. 

Bezos' ideas about the importance of having an adaptable, ever-changing mind aren't just clever, they're backed up by science.  People of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate their cognitive abilities, according to a recent study. Conversely, research shows that those of higher intelligence are typically more open-minded, flexible, and able to admit what they don't know.

Cover image via Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.


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