Karthik Pasupathy (aka KP)

How Being Around Smart People Ignited a 3X Leap in My Growth

Karthik Pasupathy (aka KP)

How the combined genius of photographers, writers, and entrepreneurs helped me harness my potential and helped me find my place.

When my English teacher said, “You’re not smart. You hang out with smart people and create an image that you’re smart” it hurt. I was fourteen. I was making a funny comment during the class about the sonnet, and I was caught red-handed. Hence, the remark.

Walking back home that day, I told myself that I’m the smartest and the teacher was just wrong. But, as years went by, I realized that the teacher wasn’t wrong. I was. 

A few years back, I spent a lot of time thinking about the incident and my journey as a writer, and I realized three things.

  1. I’m not the smartest guy in the room.

  2. But I’m smart enough to gain access into a room full of smart people.

  3. And being around smart people made me smarter. Not by 10X, but by 3X. And, I’m happy with the 3X.

The third point reminded me of the term “Scenius”, which I came across in the book ‘Show Your Work’ by Austin Kleon. Scenius refers to a group of smart people collectively enhancing each other’s intelligence through idea exchange. It resonated strongly with me.

Discovering My Scenius Network

Throughout my life and career, I had the incredible opportunity of working alongside and collaborating with some of the smartest people – photographers, writers, storytellers, artists, salespeople, entrepreneurs, etc. It was purely out of luck. Seeing them work has helped me in many ways.  The key benefit was, some of their brilliance has rubbed off on me.

This exposure hasn’t made me 10X smarter; however, it has significantly sharpened my intellect compared to previous years. I couldn’t retain 100% of what I saw or heard. But, whatever I was able to remember was incredibly helpful.

My association with photographers taught me how to look at the world from a different lens – in terms of their aesthetics and meaning beneath their surface appearances. Hanging out with indie writers and creators taught me so much about the craft of storytelling and approaching a story from multiple unique angles.

But, the most amazing part of these associations was seeing these creators dissect and analyze their failures. Great creators do this.  They openly admit their failure and talk about it because they know that that was also part of their creative process.

4 Key Traits to Get Better as a Creator (Brilliance Isn’t One Among Them)

In my journey as a writer, I realized that the key things needed to become better at your craft are self-realization, constant learning, consistent efforts (doesn’t mean too often), and connecting with your audience. Being smart comes after.

When I say being smart comes after, I’m not saying we’ll get Einstein level IQ if we hang out with smart people for long. But, we’ll definitely become better than who we were when we started. And, based on intellect, skill, and our ability to connect with our audience, we’ll create our own place among other creators.

Finding Your Place

Just remember that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. You just have to be smart enough to get access to a room full of smart people. And, that will open up infinite opportunities.