Exploring the Shared Traits of Addicts and Entrepreneurs
The same thing that makes you a great entrepreneur can also make you an addict.
David J. Linden is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His laboratory has worked for many years on the cellular substrates of memory storage in the brain and a few other topics. He has a longstanding interest in scientific communication and serves as the Chief Editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his two children.
David is the author of The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams and God and most recently, The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good.
What is true is that people who have inherited these genetic variance that predispose them for addiction, they’re also more novelty seeking and they’re more compulsive and more risk-taking. And interestingly, of course, those traits are not all bad.
Those are traits that can serve you extraordinarily well in the world; in the world of business or sports or entertainment. And so when we turn on the news and we see all the tragedies of celebrity addicts and you might think, oh well, celebrities really get addicted at the same rate of other people, it’s just that we hear about them because they’re celebrities. And when some no name person dies of a heroin overdose, we never hear about it.
Well, I don’t’ think that’s entirely true. Because I think the genetic variance that make you more likely to be an addict are the same ones that kind of bring you to the top of your profession and make you a celebrity. So a lot of addicts aren’t just losers on the street that can’t get their lives together in any other way, particularly if you look, for example, at gambling addicts.
Gambling addicts are often people who are the go-to people in their jobs. They are the ones that get things done; they are extraordinarily effective in the workplace. And the same traits that make them effective in the workplace, that novelty-seeking, risk-taking and compulsion, the same thing that makes you a great entrepreneur, can also make you an addict.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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