Like many an arrogant kid before me, when I graduate from high school in my podunk hometown (no, it wasn’t marshy, and I say podunk with all the warm feelings of a idyllic childhood), I was filled with confidence that I was one of the smartest people I knew. Oh, I’d never say it, and yes I knew I was good mostly at only one small thing, mathematics, but I’m pretty certain looking back that I was a pretty confident ass. As you can well imagine, then, transitioning from my high school to Caltech, an institution filled with near-perfect-SAT-scoring students, Nobel laureate faculty members, and a wide range of just frickin’ brilliant people, resulted in a large dislocation in my perspective concerning my own capabilities. But over time, I began to realize that, while I wasn’t the sharpest cookie in the cookie jar, every once in a very rare while I could do something worthy of interest to my fellow genii in grooming (mostly jokes, mad rantings, or random acts of bizarreness, if you must know.) Thus I came to the perspective that there was no such thing as a universal genius, that possibly, just possibly, there are people who are good at differing things—little genii of their own domains. It’s often disheartening to sit in a room with a large number of brilliant people, until I remind myself of this fact. And Monday, while doing exactly this form of sitting, I began to ponder the different ways in which these people have their own styles of brilliance. Or, in short, I made a list.
His incomplete list (as Dave himself describes it) consists of problem solvers, random generators, field jumpers, connectors, communicators, and the refactoratti. The one class that I think he misses are the problem mongers — those whose genius lies in picking holes in existing solutions (with or without offering solutions).