The most clever idiot

I was reading this article called “Don’t Waste Your Twenties”, specifically the first part called “Taking Advantage of the Unique Powers of the Twentysomething Brain”, and thought - hey, that’s a very good explanation of why I’m such an idiot. And I’m very happy to be an idiot now, I hope I can stay like this for longer. The most clever idiot out there.

There is this concept I invented called “Joe 2.0”. I reconnected with a friend some time ago who I haven’t talked to for a couple of years, and the first thing I said was that in that period of time so many things have changed that I’m kind of at a 2.0 version of myself now. Although I seem to have mainly gained in the idiot section. Which I think is very good, because before that I would spend way too much time submerged in work. Weeks would go by and the only thing I would be doing is working.

Dance

Even now I work a lot and on some pretty challenging things (come along to the Future Insights Live conference where I’ll be talking about how we process 50GB of new data every day to answer data science questions), study math and business related topics and build new ideas. So I guess I’m pretty clever. Subjectively. At the same time though, doing only this would be very boring. So boring, that I have to come up with ways to entertain myself. Even if they look idiotic to some.

Majority of my friends are of similar age to me. In the same twentysomething state. Not all of them are behaving like this though. Not sure if this is a good thing or not, I think it’s a bad thing, but given that they will go through this age without acting like idiots at some point, does it mean they are going to miss out on things? Today - I think so. Being young and untied allows to explore the world, but one has to be open to do that. Or in other words - be an idiot.

Going back to that article, and the reason I’m writing this, I find it brilliant that I’m doing all this. Because I really believe that it takes a certain amount of cleverness to be able to act like an idiot. Being able to do something reckless and/or fun requires willingness to look outside the box and just do it. In the same way as if you can’t make people laugh there is something seriously wrong with you, if you can’t act stupid sometimes, you are missing some part of a normal human being.

This very much relates to my previous blog post about the question “Why?”. If it’s true, my brain is allowing me do things without worrying too much about a lot of the factors I will be worrying about some years later. That’s why currently I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t do everything they want to be doing. Or why the society expects me to explain every single action I make. The only thing I need to worry about now, is to be able to make use of this as much as possible.

I think it’s possible to combine being an idiot and being clever, that’s why I tend to introduce myself as the most clever idiot. My friend and I went out to have drinks once. But not in your normal way. We decided it would be challenging enough to try to go to 11 bars in a row and have a beer in each of them. It was a noble attempt, however we didn’t manage to achieve the goal and only visited 9 bars. The next morning I recorded how much time it took to go from one bar to another, plotted that and used curve fitting to extrapolate how much longer it would have taken us to have all 11 beers.

As you can see from the line chart, the time required to drink two more beers would have been more than 3 hours. However no bars would be open by then, luckily, because we probably wouldn’t have been able to find our way home. This has to be the first time I ever analyzed going to a bar, hopefully the last too. Even though it serves no purpose, it works as an example of how doing stupid things can be combined with doing clever things. At least that’s how I see it, shut up.

A week ago I sold my stake in my first company, the business we started some years ago back in Lithuania. I haven’t been living there for a long time now and other partners were still there, it was just too difficult to make it work and it made more sense to let it go. It’s still doing great and always growing, but it was time for me to focus on other and new things. This took some planning, but finally happened in the early morning while I was traveling in Belgium. 12 hours later…

12 hours later I was involved in a planking spree in a conference there. In the photo above there are more than 50 people performing the act of a plank. For no reason whatsoever. Four of us were having drinks after the first day of talks and decided that we should do something. We then spent a few hours planking all over the bar, conference venue and surrounding area. As you do. The next day I kindly asked everyone to participate in this stunt and a few hours later we got everyone to partake in the grand finale plank.

As much as doing all this was absolutely stupid, it was worth it. And very stupid, especially the planking in snow. But you see, things like this create memories. Not just for yourself, but also for others. I actually think it’s my job as a conference speaker to create these memories, because talks alone are very easy to forget, but doing something epic is going to make it an experience. And probably the first thing you will tell to your colleagues when you are back.

Young adults have two things no other age group does: some level of intellect and a lot of recklessness. These things combined allow for some of the most productive and creative years, some of the biggest steps in life. I’m enjoying being an idiot, because I’m clever enough to make it work. I hope so, otherwise this is going to end badly some day.

*all illustrations done by Frits from hikingartist.com