In his book Square Peg: My Story and What It Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers, Rose writes, "Through it all, I can't help but marvel at how little I, myself, have changed, even as the way I'm perceived has been transformed by this new set of circumstances. In my Ivy League enclave, my high school impertinence is seen as wit. What used to be my lack of respect for authority is now viewed as iconoclastic insight. My lack of inhibition is now interpreted as creativity." He discusses the problem that in society today, only one type of thinker or creator is generally considered a success - the academic person that goes through the proper channels and "fits the mold," so to speak. If all other types of people are judged based on this one type of intelligence, this is at a great disservice to our society who is losing out on the countless other creative people who did not fit the mold. The late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould once poignantly said, "I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweat shops." Or in unproductive classrooms and workplaces, for that matter.
Todd now works in a field called complex systems, the study of how different parts of a system influence one another in order to produce various outcomes. In other words, how the same parts of a whole can have massively different results. Two children that grow up in the same town, with the same teachers, even in the same family, can end up with two entirely different rates success in their personal and professional lives. This is a great reminder that behavior and outcomes are complicated. Behavior isn't something that someone "has" or "does" per se, but rather something that emerges from a combination of genetics, past experience, and immediate environment or context.
So how is Todd's work useful to any of us? Todd's work and research is dedicated to shifting the paradigm away from the "myth of average" to prove that there is no standard or average person, but that each person has unique talents and insights that are incredible untapped resources for the benefit of society. His nonprofit organization Center For Individual Opportunity focuses on "transforming our social institutions (such as schools and workplaces) in ways that will nurture potential, expand talent, and ensure the promise of opportunity in modern society," a creative solution to our creative problem.