Skip to content

An Interview with Greg Vogel (Part One)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/12/08


Greg Vogel is the Chairman of Mensa France. He discusses: family and personal background; influence on him; giftedness as a child; giftedness in primary and secondary school; and working as a community on gifted children.

Keywords: France, German, Greg Vogel, intelligence, IQ, Mensa France.

An Interview with Greg Vogel: Chairman, Mensa France (Part One)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In terms of geography, culture, language, and religion/irreligion, what is family background? What is personal background?

Greg Vogel: I was born in Strasbourg (France), a city which was in German side during WW2. My grandparents were forcibly incorporated in the German army, so we have a specific culture “between France and Germany.”

All my grandparents and parents talked french and also German. About myself, I’m not as good as I would be in German. I think all members of my family were baptized, not me. My mother refused and tell that it would be me who will decide my religion. So still not baptized now [Smiles].

2. Jacobsen: How did the family background feed into early life for you? How were these an influence on you, either directly or indirectly?

Greg:  Well, to be honest, I was not the desired child. My mother thought she was a barren woman (hope this is the good expression). She was no more in a couple with my father when they “slept together.” My father did not want to have me, but my mother assumed myself.

So I’ve been raised at 80% by my mother; I lived with her and having her name. We were very poor. We have the equivalent of 7.50 Euro to buy food for a week for me, my mother, 2 dogs and the cat (the cat was necessary as we had mice in the flat). My mother usually said that the animals ate better than us [Laughing].

Our apartment did not have any shower, bathroom, heating, flush (we had a seal) and hot water. It was horribly cold in winter; I was sleeping dressed even with gloves sometimes. Once I brought a thermometer in my room it was -4° Celsius and, as it was too easy, I had a stepfather, who was violent.

About my father, he has some quality; but even after 38 years, he still does not know my birthdate and still does not know how to write my first name (I promise this is not a joke). Well, I could continue like that, but I prefer keep it for my future autobiography book [Laughing].

So, I think that all of this contributes to offering me a special vision of life, as I do have different references than most of the people. It helps me a lot now.

3. Jacobsen: When did giftedness become a fact of life for you, explicitly? Of course, you lived and live with it. When was the high general intelligence formally measured, acknowledged, and integrated into personal identity, and family and friends’ perception of you?

Greg:  I was 15-years-old. I was doing a woman’s homework at my father’s apartment, a friend of him was here too. She looked at my work and said: “It’s the handwriting of a very intelligent person.”

So, we talked a bit. My father talked about Mensa. But it was in 1995, so no internet and everything we have now with it. It’s only in 2006 that I joined the association. At this time, I was in the university, but it was a bit complicated with my classmates as usually when I was talking with them, most parts of they did not understand – or told me that I was wrong.

So I thought, “Well, 2 possibilities, I’m dumb, or they are dumb.” So, I contacted my local Mensa to pass the test. In my mind, I went to the test session to pass the test, not to make the test.

It was a very personal process, so no one knew that I was in Mensa. Little by little, I told my friends and my family. It did not change anything in our relations. I’m still watching soccer, wrestling, making sports, martial arts, playing video games, etc. So, my friends accepted this specificity. Just my father does not understand why I’m a national chairman if I’m not paid for it. Sigh.

4. Jacobsen: Did personal giftedness get nurtured throughout primary and secondary school? 

Greg:  No, lol.

Life was too tough at this time for my giftedness to be exploited. When I talked about my problems, people may think that I was lying, but whatever. If you have problems, you’re just a problem for the others that are not necessary to solve.

A problem that you can let down. It’s also a fact that you will more likely be rich people than poor people, and my teachers thought also like that when I was in college. It did not nurture my giftedness, but it helped me to understand more about life and people.

5. Jacobsen: Why should governments and communities invest in the gifted, identification and education? Where can communities and governments disserve the gifted – do them wrong? What are the consequences in either case?

Greg: Governments should do all they can for education, not even for gifted but for all. The more your people will be educated (not the same thing than cultured which is also very important), then the more people will accept differences (sexual, religion, “color”, giftedness, and so on), so the smart people will understand that gifted people can make great things for humanity.

He’s not a Mensa member, but Elon Musk is making, in a few years, what N.A.S.A. never did. He’s just proving that if you have the intelligence and the financial resources you can make great things. Hell, I want to travel in space before I die! So go Elon! [Smiles]

The smarter you are, the faster you can find a solution to your problems.

6. Jacobsen: How can families and friends help prevent gifted kids from a) acting arrogant and b) becoming social car crashes (with a) and b) being related, of course)?

Greg: Well, the same answer, you have to educate people. Maybe, I’m factually smarter than some of my friends, so what? Do I know everything? No. Do my friends know a lot of things that I don’t know? Yes.

Your kid is arrogant? OK, let him fill in your tax form or just let him explain to you what is love. 😉

Life is not only about intelligence, but it’s also about relations that you will have with your family, your friends, your love(s), and your children. Making experiences of traveling, working, having children, enjoying life is not necessarily something in correlation with intelligence.

Thinking because you can answer well at some IQ tests makes you Superman is the best way to have it all wrong. IQ is like the body: you have to use it well to make great things and it’s not because you have facilities that you will be always on top; it’s all about work.

You have to make understand at your kids that being smart and/or strong is a gift, but a gift that you should train as much as possible. If you stay all your life alone without talking to anyone and making nothing of your day, it’s useless to have high IQ.

And whoever you are and whatever you’ve done, there always be someone who will do better than you. But if you’re kids is a real genius and that he’s done everything well so send him at Elon Musk and tell him to build a spaceship and some people on Earth really want to travel in space [Laughing].

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Chairman, Mensa France.

[2] Individual Publication Date: December 8, 2018:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: