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She believes that, while some people may be born geniuses, everyone has a capacity for genius and can choose to cultivate it. That was Rudan’s message during her keynote address at the May 2, 2012, closing general session of the Society for Human Resource Management’s Talent Management Conference & Exposition near Washington, D.C.
Rudan recalled being excited as a third-grader in the upper west side of New York about the new gifted program at her Catholic school and subsequently being crushed when she learned, after her mother talked to the principal, that the solid “B” student was passed over because she was an “average,” though well-mannered, student.
Thirty-two years after not making the cut for the gifted program, Rudan “set out to democratize the word” genius and became the author of
Practical Genius: The Real Smarts You Need to Get Your Passions and Talents Working for You (Simon & Schuster, 2011). Her book is based on research and interviews with more than 100 experts, including thought leaders and researchers.
Additionally, she is president of
Genuine Insights Inc., whose mission, according to the website, is to “leverage the genius within every individual and organization.”
Genius resides, she said, in the “sweet spot” of the intersection of a person’s “soft” side—values, creative abilities, passion—with their hard side—strengths, skills, expertise. Don’t underestimate the value of soft assets, she said, noting that “during a down economy, you better get creative” to stay competitive.
While acknowledging that IQ matters and some people are hard-wired for genius, Rudan told conference attendees they can cultivate genius by:
Beware the daily pitfalls to cultivating genius, warned the founder of
TEDxMIA, an independent movement to spread genius in southern Florida.
Listen to your spirit and your heart, Rudan advised, cultivate your mind, fuel your body and surround yourself with geniuses.
She described herself as someone who listened to her heart and followed her passion despite an “intervention” by family members who feared that the decision of this wife and mother to quit her secure corporate job in 2008 signaled a nervous breakdown.
“If I had ignored my passions,” Rudan said from center stage of the ballroom of the Gaylord National Hotel, “I would not be here today.”
Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News.
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