Max Yang excels at Geo-Bee


When people think of demanding activities, football, boxing or basketball would probably come to mind. But one activity, Geo-Bee, is mentally exhausting, requiring participants to have a deep knowledge base of geography and culture, while also requiring them to keep calm and perform well under pressure. Max Yang, a freshman at Ladue High School and 2x State Geo- Bee qualifier, has learned many lessons from the hardships of Geo- Bee. Yang is a hardworking and self-driven individual that is exceptionally focused and talented. Despite there being a “nerdy” stigma around Geo- Bee, Max feels like competitions are electrifying and on-edge. Geo- Bee is run by National Geographic, and prizes such as a $25000 and $1000 cash prize makes it a very high-stakes and cutthroat competition. 

Yang had a unique start to his Geo-Bee career when he decided to participate in the middle school Geo- Bee on a whim. Yang passed the first round of testing for his class and was therefore allowed to compete at the school level. But, Yang was an avid member of the Science Olympiad Club and had a meeting at the same time as the Geo-Bee.

“I was really debating on going to Science Olympiad practice, but in the end, I decided to do it since it only takes one hour. I kind of wanted to go actually and I went and I won it,” Yang said.

Winning the school Geo-Bee without studying is quite a remarkable and ironic feat. Sophomore and fellow Geo-Beer Winston Chen credits part of Yang’s success on his natural talent. 

“He can just pick up the things where like, you know, some of us call we have to, like, really like study it,” Chen said.

Even though being talented is certainly helpful in accomplishing things, it does have its limits. 

According to Jeff Goins, people who succeed are “The one who works the hardest, does the most preparation, and keeps at it when others with talent slack and give up.”

Fortunately, Max knows this and works diligently to train for a tournament. What makes Geo-Bee tough is all the preparing and memorizing that goes into training. One or two months before a tournament, Max spends one- one and a half hours daily.

“I make a calendar for one or two months and tries to go through the entire world,” Yang said, And to get a genuine understanding, he goes in-depth into other countries. 

With so much work being put into Geo-Bee, participants can feel very overworked and anxious. In other demanding activities, there are often communities that help and support their members’ success. In Geo-Bee however, there are not such communities that you can relate to and benefit from. 

 “Geo-Bee is a bit lesser-known,” Yang said. “It would be nice if there were a community revolving around competition.”

And even though there is no Geo-Bee community for Yang to be supported by, he still continues to work hard. What helps push him through is that he is both motivated by himself and by other people which allows him to excel at a high level. After going to the state level competition twice, all eyes are on Yang to repeat the task this year.

“I chose to do to Geo-Bee by myself,” Yang said. “And for me, I guess it’s just like my own project that I feel motivated to do. And, I think it’s pretty fun.”