New research proves something I have always known intuitively: you can train yourself to have higher intelligence.
Your intelligence quotient or IQ does NOT explain how many facts you know or how much memory you have. Instead, it is an assessment of how adept you are at learning. The new research shows one may improve one's ability to process and understand new information.
Arguing intelligence is inherited has religious appeal. If intelligence is determined by nature rather than nurture, then the most intelligent members of society are a chosen elite. Instead of simply being raised in an environment conducive to learning, they have been blessed and endowed by their creator with the unique power of creation.
New research indicates that entrepreneurship could, in fact, create an environment that increases your intelligence.
A new Scientific American research study  offers us a blueprint to train people how to learn. In essence, these steps are a recipe to develop a higher level of intelligence.
The components to improving your fluid intelligence are as follows:
1. Seek Novelty
Referencing a study on neural plasticity , the SciAm research study shows that the novelty of tasks is a critical ingredient to increasing one's fluid intelligence.
Being an entrepreneur requires wearing many hats. In one day, you might fix a bug in your site engine, write copy to produce an advertisement, meet with customers to improve product requirements, meet with an investor to seek financing, draft a legal agreement with your lawyer, and interview a contractor for an opening. Even in three or four partner startups, a CEO is often expected to be more flexible than any other staff member.
For many, this novelty is what attracts them to want to begin a startup in the first place. Many would gladly put in a few extra hours to have more new and interesting tasks in their work day.
2. Challenge Yourself
The author of the research paper also mentioned this study on intensely training on the game Tetris by Richard Haier . The study demonstrated an increase in cortical thickness and cortical activity after new Tetris players spent a few weeks of intense training on the game. The brain used more energy and bulked up in thickness as a result.
As entrepreneurs, we are challenged every day. There are always new challenges coming from competitors, employees, and customers. Every time you think you might get a huge break, reality comes down hard with a new problem to solve. As Murphy's Law states, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong".
3. Think Creatively
The author then links to a study by Dr. Robert Sternberg , who wanted to find out if teaching students to think creatively about a problem could get them to learn more about the topic, have more fun learning, and transfer the knowledge gained to other areas of academic performance.
The students in his study taught using creative methods received higher final grades in the college course than the control group taught with traditional methods and assessments. He also gave the creative group the same analytical, multiple-choice exam the regular students took and they scored higher on that test as well.
Many executive observers say that creativity is one of the greatest benefits of startups. For many years, corporate America has been trying to mimic the startup model because of its main perceived benefits: speed of iteration and level of creativity.
Agile programming methods  mimic the ability of startups to rapidly iterate and test ideas where the customers may interact with them and provide feedback. By authoring code in quick cycles and releasing products more often, Agile has the potential to provide faster feedback to improve. However, Agile methods are often poorly applied and fail to achieve the same results.
Large corporations can have a way of making employees feel lost and unnoticed. In really huge organizations, you are lucky even to produce something that is seen by customers. If your work gets noticed, it's likely to be because it resulted in a nasty, customer-facing bug.
In a startup, everything you achieve reflects upon your ability to create an interesting and viable product. Startups that fail to innovate and iterate are the first startups to fail.
Creativity is your stock in trade. It has the potential to provide your greatest competitive advantage over large organizations. Never underestimate the importance of time devoted to creativity and critical thinking in your organization.
4. Do Things the Hard Way
In referring to the Tetris study, the author showed that efficiency is not your friend. After actually "learning" Tetris to the point of mastery and continuing to play, the test subjects showed a decrease in cortical thickness. By not needing to work as hard to play, their brains became more efficient. They did not need to expend as much energy to play anymore.
Entrepreneurs don't do things the hard way deliberately. Many things we must do are first time activities. Often, a fledgling CEO will present to hundreds of people for the first time in front of investors. A programmer CTO who never considered network performance or server hardware may be forced to learn about the relative merits and resource requirements of various database systems and how to load test them.
Entrepreneurs may do things the hard way because they do not know the easy way. While it makes sense to ask experts first before making mistakes, I can guarantee that you'll be forced to learn something the hard way. There are simply so many unusual tasks you must accomplish.
The final step to improving fluid intelligence is networking. The author refers to Steven Johnson's book "Where Good Ideas Come From" . She argues, "If you are looking for ways to seek out novel situations, ideas, environments, and perspectives, then networking is the answer."
In startups, networking is essential. An entrepreneur may spend more time meeting with customers and investors initially than with her own family. One of the greatest frustrations with startups is how much time it takes to network properly both during and outside of work hours.
It's a fact. Humans are social creatures. Most investors come from referrals. The best customers get referred to your product. That's what it means for a product to "go viral." The best hires are often prospective employees who feel they already know you and your company culture.
That's why tech entrepreneurs spend so much time at conferences and group meetings when they could be programming. It's why we develop blogs and Twitter accounts. If we neglect society, then society will neglect us.
A few bloggers argue (and a few fools agree) that entrepreneurs spend too much time trying to engage an audience and not enough time building a product. A product without an audience is not a product-- it's a hobby.
Imagine what would have happened if Mark Zuckerberg had created Facebook and told only one socially-inept friend about it. The fact is that the code wasn't perfect when he released it. It wasn't even close. Without developing his personal network, Zuckerberg's product would have been another niche site limited to a few geeks at Harvard.
Build the cart without adding the horse and it won't move. Networking cannot be ignored. It will help you grow both as a business leader and intellectually.
We've always known that challenges can also present opportunities. Becoming an entrepreneur is an incredible challenge. You give up the opportunity to earn a predictable income and work a predictable schedule. In exchange, you get a shot at much greater rewards.
Recent brain research shows that one of the rewards of entrepreneurship is developing and improving your intelligence. Perhaps this is part of why iteration has had such a successful track record.
My corporate job at Cray over the span of almost eight years failed to challenge me in so many ways. I felt like I was forgetting how to learn new technologies.
I spent every hour I could in and out of work attempting to stimulate my mind to make up for the lack of challenges. I attended numerous conferences. I constantly played strategy games. I ran for state representative twice. I volunteered on the company's audiovisual team and learned many technologies I would never use at my work, like learning Drupal and earning my CCNA certificate.
Today, I'm glad to finally have the satisfaction and stimulation of owning my own project-- a hyperlocal network that provides competitive bidding to neighborhoods for their services. Check out http://bidnear.us and follow us on Twitter (@BidNearUs @colinmlee).
If you believe in yourself and would like to become a smarter person, I recommend you get started right away. Go ahead. Develop something great!
"One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts." —Albert Einstein