"It is therefore noteworthy that very
few of the most renowned Quiz Kids---with
the striking exception of Joel, who totally spurned his "notorious" past---have
followed academic careers. as several of those
less prominently featured on the show have done. Some of the
latter [who followed academic careers] say their Quiz
Kid experience strengthened their commitment to high scholastic
standards. Some of the regulars, though, when
they got to college, did not strive for high grades, preferring
to concentrate on learning for its own sake or to devote time to other
and a few such as Lon Lunde and Harvey Dytch, reacted against competitive
"What influenced our relative success in a world beyond "Quiz Kids" and academia was not so much intellect (a commodity we al have in sufficient supply) but the match between interest and ability, the judgment we brought to decisions, and the determination to carry them out... plus, of course, the proverbial bit of good luck.
"As Naomi Cooks Mann points out, the easiest way to succeed is to choose what you are good at. For Lon Lunde and Harvey Dytch, it took years of apparent floundering before they settled on music and science, their early strengths.
"An important study on the ingredients of success is under way at the University of Chicago. There were no child prodigies among the one-hundred world-renowned mathematicians, concert pianists, Olympic swimmers and tennis players under age 35 whose histories have been dissected by Professor Benjamin S. Bloom's researchers. In fact, few of these topflight achievers stood out as unusually gifted at the age of 5 or even 10. Some did not show as much ability as siblings who started with similar parental encouragement and early training. One thing that made the difference was motivation; an all-consuming will to excel. Fired by recognition and fueled by expert coaching, these young people concentrated on developing their talents, often to the exclusion of social life and other activities. Similarly, among the Terman group, the top achievers were those who, from childhood on, evinced noticeable drive, ambition, initiative, independence and persistence. Those who chose a vocation rather than drifting into one.
"Of all the Quiz Kid stars, Harve Bennett showed that fiber. The product of achievement-oriented parents, it was he, not they, who insisted he try out for the show. It was he whom his perceptive colleagues singled out as "most unlikely to fail". And it is he who has come closest to the zenith in his chosen field.
"Fundamental to success is the ability to focus on and pursue a goal, as Harve did. Being well-rounded, as Quiz Kids were supposed to be, some of us have found it difficult to do that."
"Multi-potentiality is a mixed blessing for many gifted youths.
"Yet some of us have a nagging feeling that we should have done more.
"Some of us, as often happens with gifted children, became semi-compulsive perfectionists, driven by the need to continue to be best or by the dread of failure.
"I, for one, found it difficult, after my childhood laurels and my parents' lavish praise, to accept life's inevitable disappointments and my own parental shortcomings. While my early success left me (as it did some of my Quiz Kid colleagues) with the buoying but rather irrational feeling that I can do anything, at the same time I felt inadequate to meet that impossible expectation.
"As Dick Williams points out, there has been a radical change in the way some Americans define success." "This, as Dick says if one asks the question 'Did the Quiz Kids fulfill their potential?', one must first define what is meant by potential."
"My story is probably typical of the middle-class woman of my generation who married young and fell into motherhood without having made a clear-cut career commitment. But, laboring under the Quiz-Kids-induced delusion that I would continue to be an exception, I assumed I would be able to pick where I had left off and arrive at a distinguished career some day. Two decades later, I found that catching up was not so easy."