I often hear about the need for “intelligent” people running for president. In fact, many associate being a smart guy with someone who graduated from some top Ivy League school like Harvard or Yale. These people have a lot of information and book knowledge and can “think big thoughts.” But, is that what a president needs to succeed?

What skills are necessary for a good president ? Of course, I think it is very important to be able to articulate a message, the bully pulpit is important. But beyond great orators and speech reading, what do we need from a president when the cameras are not rolling? Let us look at people who become very successful entrepreneurs. By far, if we measure their intelligence by Ivy League standards, they are not very smart people. Not only many of them lack the sophisticated air we associate with intellectuals but they exhibit a disdain for certain kind of knowledge. They do not become restless with ultimate end questions or the proper articulation of abstract concepts. In fact, they often find these discussions silly, useless. I thank God for that, as politicians with big plans are VERY dangerous people who pretend to concentrate power in their hands as, after all, they know better. They also believe a lie, their own expansive mental capacity. Concentrated power and hubris are deadly.

The typical entrepreneur’s mode of thinking is very different than the mode of thinking of the supposedly “smart” people. Their intelligence is practical because they know what sort of knowledge is needed to get things done. They are more in tune with every day experience than with grandiose ideas and plans. Yes, at times their ideas on certain affairs can be seen as inane, and the richest ones trying to become public intellectuals are an embarrassment, but they are the ones with the big bucks while the “smart ones” salivate with envy.

That is why, I believe, the intellectualoid types love to work for bureaucracies. “If I cannot make more money than that fat guy I met at Rotary who sells soap, I’ll make his life a living hell with my regulations!”  Interestingly, bureaucracies move slowly while enterprise goes in rapid pace. The “book learners” want the safety of tenure and pension (and the politics of entitlement) while the entrepreneur delights on risking it all (unless, of course, you work for bailed-out companies). Interestingly, although the entrepreneur is often accused of being selfish, he is very capable in cooperating with others, building relationships, and motivating teams while the intellectual is all about, “Hey, look at how smart I am!”

Now think of it. What kind of president we want?  The one who speaks with rosy language and graduated from Haaaarvard? The one with only 8% of his higher appointees having any experience outside of government? The one with big ideas about how to fundamentally change” what indeed works in favor of fantasy? Do we want to brag about Ivy League executives or do we want results-oriented leadership?  What say you?

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