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Conversation with LaRae Bakerink on Tales from Youth, MBA in Management, Curmudgeons, Male Brokers’ Temperaments, and Mensa International: Elected Chair, American Mensa; Member, International Board of Directors, Mensa International (1)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/03/08


LaRae Bakerink is the Elected Chair of American Mensa and a Member of the Executive Committee of the International Board of Directors of Mensa International. She has been a Member of San Diego Mensa since 2001. Bakerink earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance and an M.B.A. in Management. She lives in San Diego with her husband, Steve. She discusses: family history; the MBA in Management; a difficult personality; brokers; the temperament you most find with people; and American Mensa.

Keywords: American Mensa, Executive Committee, intelligence, IQ, Larae Bakerink, Mensa Foundation, Mensa International, San Diego.

Conversation with Larae Bakerink on Tales from Youth, MBA in Management, Curmudgeons, Male Brokers’ Temperaments, and Mensa International: Elected Chair, American Mensa; Member, International Board of Directors, Mensa International (1)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Superhero movies are very popular now. Let’s start on an origin story, if you want to give any, family history, and any tales from youth of particular influence on you.

LaRae Bakerink[1],[2]: My story: as I said before, I was born in Washington, D.C. I’m the oldest child. My father was the middle child of 9. My mother is the oldest child. Well, she was the oldest child, until she found out [Laughing]. Her father was not really her father. Thank you, 23andMe.

Jacobsen: Wow.

Bakerink: Yes, that’s a whole other story. I found out who my real grandfather is because I made my mother spit into a tube.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Bakerink: It is just nice to know. I always did well in school. My parents were pretty strict about it. In fact, if I ever thought about getting a B, I would probably be put on restriction. I started Kindergarten when I was 4. Because I had a high aptitude.

So, they wanted me in early. I went to 3 months of second grade and then skipped up to third grade because I had finished all my books, all my math books, English books, by the third month of second grade.

Then I was shorter, smaller, and, of course, younger than everybody. It made me very introverted. When you’re a little kid, and when everyone is a little taller than you, it makes a big difference. I got teased a lot.

But I was pretty good at sports. So, I could, at least, be physical and try and keep up. Then I graduated high school at 16, started college. Discovered my driver’s license and freedom [Laughing], college didn’t go so well for the first few years.

I think I had a pretty good childhood. It was a lot of fun. I was on swim team. In fact, I trained very competitively for almost 14 years swimming. Then I started out as a marine biologist. That’s what I wanted to be when I first started college.

Because San Diego, hello! Scripps Institute of Oceanography and all of that, it’s a big deal here. Then I realized there was not a whole lot of money in that. Even though, I love science. Because if you’re going to be a researcher or something, then you’re going to have to depend on grant money.

Then I fell into a job, a part-time job, at a stock brokerage firm. I discovered my love of finance. I changed my major to finance. I worked in the stock market for almost 30 years. I was on the Board of the NASDAQ stock market. I was on the Board of National Association of Securities Dealers, which is the regulatory agency for the stock market in the United States.

That was my life. My husband’s life, we had our own firm. I always was feeling that I should have done something more with my smarts, but, on the other hand, feel like I’ve done pretty well with my smarts over the years.

I always did well in school with good grades, loved school. One of the people who I know who actually really loved school. Still enjoy learning, I got married at a very young age and divorced at a very young age because, when you get married at 18, I don’t think you’re ready.

I met my current husband. We will be married 36 years this year. He and I ran our own brokerage firm for a while. Now, we’re retired, except I spend more time working for Mensa than I ever spent working for my company.

Jacobsen: You did an MBA too. What drove you to get the MBA in Management in particular?

Bakerink: Actually, the teacher that I had. She was the management teacher I had while getting my finance degree. I am really good with numbers. They tried to talk me into accounting. I was like, “No, it’s not my desire.” When I talked to her (the Dr.), she was adamant about having the management capability and being able to work the teams with the finance degree that I had, which would be very beneficial.

She was right. It was a good addition to the finance degree. Just because it gives you a different insight into working with other people, I hated all the team projects. But they’re probably one of the best things I ever did.

It helped me to work with them even if I didn’t like them, if I didn’t trust them, if I felt what I was doing was better than they were. Some people have a problem if they are better than you. It gave me a lot of good insight into how to work with a different variety of people.

I think that really helped me through the brokerage industry through the years because brokers are a breed unto themselves [Laughing]. They’re very focused on what they do. They don’t pay attention a lot to what is going on around them when they are focused.

I had to find a way to get to them. My husband called me “The Curmudgeon Whisperer.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Bakerink: Because I could get even our grumpiest brokers to laugh and to smile, and to get them to do what they needed to do.

Jacobsen: If you’re dealing with a difficult personality, your quintessential curmudgeon. How do you do it?

Bakerink: This one guy, I knew he really, really liked cats. If he started getting really crabby or demanding, or whatever, I would send him a picture of a cat, or I would joke with him about “I will send you a basket of kittens if you don’t behave.”

Because he liked cats and was afraid of kittens. He would laugh. Then he would stop being grumpy. We would get down to business. You find out what their passion is and focus on that, ‘Hey, you got this thing going on here. You don’t need to be grumpy. We can do this.’

It is reading people and figuring out the story as to why they’re really mad. Because half of the time, why they say they’re mad is not why they’re mad; they’re angry about a fight that they had with their wife yesterday.

So, they are going to take this out on me. “Did you have a bad day or weekend?” They go, “Oh, yeah, okay.” [Laughing]

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Bakerink: They calm down a bit.

Jacobsen: Are more brokers women or men?

Bakerink: Men, for sure.

Jacobsen: My image of a curmudgeon is a man. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but it’s the image.

Bakerink: The stock market, they’re so set in their ways. A lot of the brokers are brought up in what they call “Bull Pens.” They are trained in a big room, where they have to cold call customers and have a script. They have to tell customers this script over and over and over again.

It gets pounded into them: This is what you have to do. It is hard to get that out of them. When they get out into the real-world and have to socialize with their customers [Laughing] or their colleagues, once you learn where they come from, it becomes easier.

It is like that with anybody. You figure out what it is that drives them that makes it fun to work with them.

Jacobsen: What is the temperament you most find with people? If you cold call people day-in and day-out, in America and presumably outside it too, what is the general temperament over decades of working in that industry?

Bakerink: This is back in the day. It was all before emails. So, they’d get rejected a lot. They have to be tough skinned. Especially cold-calling, you’ll get yelled at. There are people who don’t want to hear from you, who hang up.

You’re given a phone list. You don’t know who you’re calling. It gives them a tough skin, which is a good thing sometimes. I had brokers quit who said, “I lost a customer’s money. I can’t do this anymore.” [Laughing]

So, you can’t have that feeling and do a good job, or to move forward. I think you have to be pretty tough to be a broker and you have to work with that, and figure out what they need to not be so mad all the time.

Jacobsen: Now, you’re working more in Mensa, as American Mensa’s Chair more than any other job you’ve had – or volunteer position. So, what are the tasks and responsibilities in being chief officer?

Bakerink: Number one, I am Chair of American Mensa. I run the meetings, the agenda. I am the face right now of American Mensa. I deal with the press. I probably get a couple hundred emails a day, not just from members, but people from all over. ‘You know, Mensa needs to look at this.’

I get more projects and ideas from people. Some of them a little crazy.

Jacobsen: Conspiracy theories?

Bakerink: Conspiracy theories they believe Mensa needs to investigate. Also, I am an ex-officio member of the Mensa Foundation Board, but I have designated a proxy for that. Because I feel I need to concentrate of doing a good job.

I am also on the Executive Committee for the International Board of Directors of Mensa International. So, three positions coming from one. There is a lot of interaction with the membership and the staff. We work on our events trying to recruit new members.

One of the things that I am really proud of that we finally got done is testing in a testing facility Prometric. So, you can take our test. You can go into one of our testing facilities. You can take it online at one of our testing facilities.

Prior to that, when you had gone to a psychiatrist and taken the Stanford-Binet or the Wechsler, you could provide that as prior evidence. But we also have proctors authorized by our national supervisory psychologist that will give the tests that we use for entrance for qualification for Mensa.

Those are usually the third Saturday of the month at either a church or some local community hall, libraries. That sort of thing, because it is a regular test. You need quiet. So, we have about 400 proctors nationwide.

Mensa members who have college degree, a 4-year degree, and then have also gone through and done all of the requirements to do a proctor, being observed, doing a test, observing others do a test, prior to being approved as a proctor.

Then they can give the test to potential candidates. But a lot of my Millennials will say, “I’m not taking a test on a Saturday morning. That’s either hangover or Home Depot day.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Bakerink: Plus, a lot of them are nervous, introverted and most of them don’t want to sit down in a classroom setting and take a test. Now that we have it set up with Prometric. They’re open 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. 7 days a week.

They can sit you down in a booth in a corner, so you don’t have to interact with other people, which makes some of our introverts very happy [Laughing]. With COVID-19, we haven’t been able to test.

Some have safety standards, so they can test. So, we don’t have to worry about those. But we still have people taking the test and wanting to join. I’ve worked on that for almost 7 years and finally gotten it to pass because everything was done on paper up until that point, instead of being able to take it at a computer.

You can’t take it at home. You have to take it at a center to verify identity and all that kind of stuff. That’s something I’m very excited about.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Chair, American Mensa; Member, International Board of Directors (Executive Committee), Mensa International; Ex-Officio Member, Mensa Foundation; Member, San Diego Mensa.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 1, 2021:; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021:


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


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