The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth (Being Leonard Cooper)

In tribute to someone who’s had the viral moment of a lifetime while making a little “side jack” (that’s cash for all of you non-sales professionals), I wanted to acknowledge a cool kid.

I’m a huge Jeopardy fan, I hate to miss it so at my house it’s a DVR staple.  My teenagers and I watch it regularly with my son and I using pens as clickers and arguing over who the household champion is (I deduct points since he refuses to use the question format at times).  This week saw the end of the Teen Tournament and one of my favorite Jeopardy moments, proving that the geeks shall inherit the earth:
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You’ve likely seen the video a million times by now and read a few articles about how awesome Leonard’s bad ass moment was.  My feeling when I read it was one of appreciation for a few reasons.

1. Intelligence breeds a level of confidence that is often missed. Leopard played the game with his arms crossed in a very relaxed stance for most of the nights that he was on. Nevermind the audience, the revered and rumored caustic host, Alex, or the possibility that he could be the dumbest of the smart people in that situation! You view the geek as the awkward kid in the hallways but he views himself as the one that’s smarter than the bullies; capable of acts that many people are uncomfortable with, from standing in front of a panel of adults in a judged competition (spelling bee alumni raise your hands) to arguing the pro’s and con’s of political viewpoints that may not have impacted him yet (I smile when I remember how seriously my high school debate partner, Holly and I regarded ourselves back then. It spoke volumes for our future potential–although we were far from geeks).

2. You can’t lose what you don’t have. No one understands this more than teenagers. That moment when they seem so blase (Leonard risking a cool $18K and even more, the chance at $75K), is actually an acknowledgement that they may not have truly lost anything in that moment. If you put a teenager or the new graduate in a work environment they are willing to ask the questions or push the envelope that seasoned professionals won’t. To some, it shows a lack of couth or demonstrates a sense of entitlement but I remember this “no risk no reward” feeling. Don’t you? The money wasn’t in his pocket..yet, so what was he really risking except for opportunity. And in doing so, he followed another opportunity…the risk paid off.

3. Being YOU pays off. Leonard’s mother may have been a little perturbed when her son said he wanted to grow an afro. She may have had all of the image concerns that most parents have but she probably chose her battles and focused on how awesomely confident, independent and smart he is. My son has asked for a laundry list of things that have been outside of what I consider the norm…blue hair, ear gauges–yes the earlobe stretching things–and some extravagant purchases–a thousand different musical instruments, a trip to Japan, all in pursuit of who he is now. Who he KNOWS he is. I’ve said “no” to some of those things and “yes” to others. The gauges, no, since he has had engineering aspirations and my experience has taught me that it may not be the best trademark for that career field. The blue hair, maybe, although I’m not sure how that will look for a first chair cellist in the high school orchestra and the trip/instruments, yes. He continues to push and I’m okay with it. He knows who he is. I’ve tried to create the “cooleyhigh” look of sweater vests and bow ties for him while he’s more of a vans and t-shirt kind of guy, staunchly refusing my efforts to prep him up. I like that about him.

4. Success isn’t optional. Leonard’s demeanor when he wagered that large amount of money was one that said “I have no choice”. Commitment to the purpose and forward movement is all you have when you know that you’re an intelligent being with unlimited potential. Enough said.

Leonard Cooper wins the Limitless Award for the week!

Channel your inner Leonard and get moving. Sell Something. Pursue Your Mission. Change Careers. Whatever it is you want to do, is only a wager away.

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