Want to be the Next Neil deGrasse Tyson? Be Yourself.

Your task, Neil de Grasse Tyson says, is to find opportunities that allow you to express your unique talents in ways that society will value and reward.

Want to be the Next Neil deGrasse Tyson? Be Yourself.

There are many ways to describe Neil de Grasse Tyson. Astrophysicist. Popularizer of science. TV and radio host. Evangelist of space exploration. PETA booster. Oenophile. Director of the Hayden Planetarium. Latin ballroom dancing gold medalist. Prolific author and Twitterer. Honorary doctorate hoarder. Demoter of Pluto. Humanist. Realist. Atheist or agnostic? Badass


Tyson should not be described, however, as Carl Sagan: the Sequel. Tyson, after all, was recruited by Sagan to attend Cornell, but passed him over for Harvard. In fact, Tyson has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and that has led him on his own unique journey from star wrestler at Bronx High School of Science to the science celebrity who was chosen by People as the sexiest astrophysicist alive

What's the Big Idea?

In an interview with Big Think, Tyson says he is often asked by fans and admirers the question "What can I do to be you?" Tyson tells us "the only aspect of me that's 'doable'" is to perhaps recreate his academic pedigree. But what is more important than piling up degrees, according to Tyson, is to create the opportunity for yourself to "do what you do best" in a way that "layers onto the formal training you received." 

In other words, don't aim to be a version of someone else. The greatest people in our society, Tyson argues, are those who have been able to "carve niches that represent the unique expression of their combination of talent."

Watch the video here:

What's the Significance?

Tyson says he thinks about his good fortune every day. He has the opportunity to pursue what he finds interesting, and luckily for him the public finds value in some of the things he does best. Imagine, for instance, if Tyson happened to be incredibly talented at tiddlywinks, but didn't really know much about the universe. His fame and fortune would be considerably diminished. 

Your task, Tyson says, is to find opportunities that allow you to express your unique talents in ways that society will value and reward. If everyone had that opportunity, Tyson says, our society would be transformed overnight. 

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

No, the Yellowstone supervolcano is not ‘overdue’

Why mega-eruptions like the ones that covered North America in ash are the least of your worries.

Ash deposits of some of North America's largest volcanic eruptions.

Image: USGS - public domain
Strange Maps
  • The supervolcano under Yellowstone produced three massive eruptions over the past few million years.
  • Each eruption covered much of what is now the western United States in an ash layer several feet deep.
  • The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, but that doesn't mean the next eruption is overdue.
Keep reading Show less

Smartly dressed: Researchers develop clothes that sense movement via touch

Measuring a person's movements and poses, smart clothes could be used for athletic training, rehabilitation, or health-monitoring.

Technology & Innovation

In recent years there have been exciting breakthroughs in wearable technologies, like smartwatches that can monitor your breathing and blood oxygen levels.

Keep reading Show less

Do you worry too much? Stoicism can help

How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.

Stoicism can help overcome anxiety

Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Stoicism is the philosophy that nothing about the world is good or bad in itself, and that we have control over both our judgments and our reactions to things.
  • It is hardest to control our reactions to the things that come unexpectedly.
  • By meditating every day on the "worst case scenario," we can take the sting out of the worst that life can throw our way.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast