Canada’s Smartest Person isn’t a scientist, a business mogul, or even a professional. He’s a 22-year-old law student at the University of British Columbia.
Not what you were expecting?
Braden Lauer was crowned the champion on Sunday night’s finale of Canada's Smartest Person.
The CBC show challenges assumptions about what it means to be smart. Rather than compare IQs, contestants tackle a series of tests that measure six types of intelligence: musical, physical, social, logical, visual, and linguistic.
The model is based on The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, developed by Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
Originally from Kamloops, B.C., Lauer sat down with The Early Edition’s Rick Cluff to share his thoughts on the experience.
Q: What made you want to compete for the title of Canada’s Smartest Person?
A: It was on a whim, actually. I decided to apply during my exam period in first year law. I was surrounded by a bunch of really intelligent people, and I had a really difficult exam that I left.
I saw a commercial on TV, and I thought, “Ah, I could probably prove I’m smart in other ways. I might as well apply for this show.” To my surprise, I got a call back to start going through the interview process.
Q: Did you have to take time off of school?
A: I was working actually at a tech firm in Vancouver over the summer when the show was filmed. I was a legal intern at a tech firm called hyperWALLET. I had to come in and essentially give the really random news to my boss that I had to have some days off to go to Toronto to be on a game show, which was really awkward.
They were supportive. They laughed. I think my boss brought in a bunch of people in to make fun of me and just the fact that I needed time off for something so random and weird. Everyone was really behind it and excited.
Q: On the show’s website, you describe yourself as “Einstein meets Sherlock.” What does that mean?
A: My friends have already read that and made so much fun of me for that description. The way I describe myself is pretty true and pretty sad. I like to think I’m smart, but I’m very inept at some regular day things.
That’s where the Sherlock thing comes in. I have the worst short-term memory. I lose things all the time. I have trouble keeping very normal spaces clean. I’m really frazzled in everything I do, but somehow it all seems to work out.
Q: There are six different intelligences that the show evaluates. Which would you say are your strongest and weakest?
A: My strongest is definitely logical, social, and linguistic. Those are toward the business school, law school, books-smarts thing that I was going for on the show. My weaker side is obviously musical.
Visual? I’m absolutely terrible. I have the worst eyesight in the world. I can’t do any of those challenges. They’re terrible, and I hate them.
Physical? I have good hand-eye coordination, but I’m like the tiniest guy in the world. The person who won two years ago was like a Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive lineman. Physically, I’m almost the exact opposite of him.
Q: Did you actually think you could win this, or was it more about the experience?
A: Definitely about the experience. I thought I could do well, but I wasn’t going in thinking I’m the smartest person in Canada and that everyone needs to know, and that I’ll blow everyone out of the water.
I really like competing and being competitive. I have a bunch of siblings. We always played these board games where we really wanted to win and one-up each other. This was a cool outlet to try something different and take part in something unique.
Q: Did you do any brain prep before being on the show?
A: Oh yes, I did. I didn’t sleep the night before filming because I was doing math Mad Minutes, trying to memorize all the squares of every number, learning math tricks and word tricks, finding all the three-letter words in the dictionary. I was trying to break down each thing to try to as effectively prepare for the challenges as I could.
It didn’t work for everything, but I think it helped a little bit. In my very first episode, there was a scrambled word challenge. You had a bunch of letters. For weeks before, I’d just been playing Boggle and other word games, researching what three-letter words there were. That’s an example where it worked out.
Q: Was there a contestant you identified as the person to beat?
A: I did! I did, actually. When we got to the finale, there’s this one guy who was the oldest one there .I was the youngest one there. He’s a poker player. His name is Chris. He was very intense, and he always had a poker face on. He reminded me of my dad with his intenseness.
From the very start, I was like, “Oh, this guy is competition. He’s the one that I really want to beat.” He got right there, in third place. I barely, barely snuck past him to get to the final two scenario. He was my arch nemesis, even though he didn’t know it, and he’s a really, really great guy.
Q: How do you plan to use this title to your advantage?
A: Funniest thing about that is in second year, a lot of students look for summer jobs at law firms. You go through this big recruitment process. Definitely, I smacked it right there in the resume that I was a participant on the show, because that’s all I was allowed to say. That in itself was a very great and interesting talking point, going through an interview process.
I ultimately did get a job this summer, though I think it has nothing to do with that. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with the title though. I’m just going to try to get on with life. Now I have this great thing to talk about at parties and when I meet people. It’s not a stepping stone for anything, is it?
Q: What's next for you?
Oh...you’re asking a 22-year-old this. The plan right now is to get through this law school thing and start working.