Community Mail: Intelligence, Business as Machine

One of my favorite questions to ask people is:

What is the difference between smart and intelligent?

In reality, there is no difference. At least not according to a dictionary or thesaurus. But what’s interesting is that due to question bias, people try really hard to find a difference because they “know” there’s a difference between smart people and intelligent people.

I’d love to ask you the same question! What are your thoughts?


Hi David,

As an educator, I beg to disagree to some extent with your premisses :

You write :
Intelligence is connecting ideas, things, people in a way that gives us a result.

Intelligence is finding elegance in a new option, seeing a new opportunity, asking a new question.

But how can you connect what you don’t know or realise that what you thought was new had actually been discovered ages ago…?

I think the very real problem you highlight, viz. so many things to read / learn, so little time & then there are computers anyway, stems from the conflation of two separate issues :

1. Our nostalgic hankering for the Renaissance Man model of culture & knowledge (and Leonardo da Vinci was exceptional even for his time anyway!). Modern science has simply put paid to that myth, but most Western education curricula are still in thrall to it.

2. Computers can do everything we can faster & better : well yes BUT what if all power resources eventually disappear? Good luck with running operating systems then… plus not everyone can understand coding & algorithms and, personally, I’m not wild about a system where ignorance will allow the few to keep distorting things for the many.

What a good education should provide you with is the ability to think on your own two feet, make informed decisions and not feel guilty about not having universal knowledge.

Keep up your creative caffeine, it makes for really enjoyable reading.


Thanks David, I really enjoyed this read. I definitely have suffered from feeling less than (even while excelling) my whole life. The challenges and triumphs that come with running a business can both relieve and exacerbate that. This is a welcome reminder to leverage the tools I have without feeling I have to compare myself to them.



Jessica S


You are speaking my language.  Actually, that of Career Vision.

For the last 3o years, we have been giving aptitude tests to help people discover their inborn talents. Aptitude testing identifies and measures where a person’s talents lie.  Those are the areas to concentrate on and develop.  Those are the areas of study that will come more easily and more quickly to you because they are part of your natural strengths ( put me in a biology class and I am your girl.  Put me in a math class and I want out). What comes naturally to one person is rejected by another because it is ‘too hard.’

I invite you to our website, and that the Ball foundation

I think you will find it interesting.

Accentuate the positive,

What about ‘business as a garden’? This fits better for me. We work in an ecosystem, interdependent on others not tinkering alone in a garage.

As Kate Raworth says in Doughnut Economics – goodbye spanner, hello secateurs:

“Say farewell to economy-as-machine and embrace economy-as-organism. Let go of the imaginary controls that promised to pull markets into equilibrium and, instead, get a feel for the pulse of the feedback loops that keep them continually evolving. It is time for the economists to make a metaphorical career change, too: discard the engineer’s hat and spanner, and pick up some gardening gloves and secateurs instead. …back in the 1970s, Friedrich Hayek himself suggested that economists should aim to be less like craftsmen sharing their handiwork and more like gardeners tending their plants.”

Yes, it foregrounds economics, but I think it applies just as well to businesses, organisations, enterprises. Imagine warm, full-of-life human beings working on a living thing that we’re part of, that we work with, that’s regenerative rather than tinkering with, working on, a cold machine, that’s (often) extractive. What do we need to do to help our garden thrive, to allow plants to flourish and produce, now and in the long term?

Thanks for writing Creative Caffeine, I always read it, and it always makes me think.

Best wishes


Hi, David

Your email is timely. I’ve always had trouble separating myself from my work whether it was when my work was school, or shoveling gravel, playing music professionally, or even now being a pastor. Some seasons I’ve been better at than others in recognizing that I am not my work.

Last week I spent significant time meditating on this old Hebrew Scripture attributed to Solomon, the wise king, on work. It highlights the difference you mentioned between the one who is able to wake up early for a fresh start and the one who is stuck in the drudgery of the daily grind:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:24-26

Have a great week!


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