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Ken Jennings says knowledge isn’t trivial.
As the winningest Jeopardy! contestant of all time (74 matches in a row), Jennings knows something about knowledge and trivia.
Like this factoid: “Trivia” is the only word you’re not supposed to say on air as a Jeopardy! contestant (as in, “I was always good at trivia”).
Why? Because trivia equals trivial, and Jeopardy! isn’t trivial. (Jennings’ payday of $3.4 million certainly wasn’t.)
But in this age of being able to ask Google or Siri for a piece of information, is knowing stuff still important to managers and supervisors for anything besides winning on TV game shows?
Jennings, who calls himself a “nerdy guy” who “knows a lot of weird stuff” argues it does. And it applies to leaders and managers, too. Here’s why:
1) The more we learn, the easier it is to learn more.
Scientists studied the brains of wannabe London taxi drivers who were studying for the test on how to move passengers around the congested city.
As they memorized streets and when they were busy, part of their brains grew.
Scientists also looked at the brains of people who used GPS to navigate. The same area of their brains shrunk.
2) The power of the right fact at the right place at the right time.
When 10-year-old Tilly Smith was on a Thailand beach with her parents in December 2004, she told them they had to get off the beach quickly.
She remembered what a teacher said: When the tide goes out quickly, it’s the sign of a tsunami.
Her parents alerted a lifeguard who cleared the beach.
It’s estimated more than 100 people were saved on that beach from the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami because of what Smith remembered from school.