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April 04, 2009


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any book about personalities that succeed on their endeavors is worth reading i'm looking forward to get hold of that book

Fascinating and engaging book. I especially remember the chapter on childhood achievement and culture. I never thought of the innate patience that some cultures breed (i.e., rice growing regions) versus those less patience, and the effect that can have on academic success (i.e, mathematics and problem-solving). Also in favor of year-round schools, which he makes a case for.

The thing with kid's hockey reminds me of a conversation I recently had with my husband... The cutoffs here for kindergarten entry are September 1. Our daughter was born at the end of September. That means that she wouldn't start public kindergarten until she's almost 6 years old.

In the case of school, though, this doesn't seem (to us) like an advantage - more like a handicap. Because we want school to challenge her, which probably won't happen (in the early years) if she's the oldest, most advanced kid in her class.

(We each graduated highschool before turning 18, which certainly affects our views on the matter.)

Haven't read the book. However, I think Mozart had a whole lot more than "base level of ability". In certain fields, like arts, you need to have a truly outstanding talent to succeed as well as proficiency and luck.

If you like Malcolm Gladwell's _Outliers_ as well as the concepts of careers and jobs, you may find his thoughts about job interviews interesting. His basic standpoint on job interviews is that they're very hit-or-miss affairs.

As I've observed, some people don't get to advance in their chosen fields because they absolutely are terrible in the whole job hunting cycle of resumes, interviews and references. Sometimes, when they strike out on their own and market themselves using other means, they stand out and get recognized (employers be damned.)

I've often wondered how many capable people are overlooked by employers because they didn't do well at interviews (which even some managers admit are horribly inadequate to begin with.) Yes, Corporate America is full of hiring managers who say to someone like Fred Astaire, "Can't act, can't sing, can dance a little."

Meanwhile, here's Gladwell's piece of interviews being no better than throwing at darts to determine actual job competence:

Interesting how we can be in different careers and yet still hit the trifecta. Engineering also appears in all 3 lists.

When I graduated back in 92 (Accounting) there wasn't a job to be had.
Now, we're in huge demand because of an aging work force.
I'd had to say and demographics are playing a huge part in it.

I think it's simplistic to say that luck is the major factor and that only marginal ability is required. The reason certain people really excel is that they have an abundance of all three.

It's not as though Bill Gates was the only person with the luck to have access to what he had access to (he had classmates, after all) and it's not as though he was the only of those people to work hard. He also had a ton of ability, and it was the combination that made him into the world's richest man (his classmate, Paul Allen, didn't do too badly either.)

Also consider: your circumstances are not fixed. They can be changed with hard work (as can your ability!) Bill Gates was lucky to have computer access in middle school, but he worked hard to gain more of it as life went on. My own boss, Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, didn't exactly grow up in the best circumstances to become an astronaut, but she decided she wanted to do it and went out and did everything she needed to do to put herself in that place. I've known a number of successful people, and while some of them were "lucky" early in life, many were not.

I was born right after cutoff and was always one of the oldest in my class. I agree that I may have been less challenged in school than younger kids in my class. However, I don't think being more challenged is necessarily an advantage because, either way, everyone in the class gets the same curriculum. Some just have to work harder for the same grades. Perhaps my study skills suffered, but besides that, I don't see a downside to having an easier time. The time I spent not studying, gave me more time to pursue my interests, which translated pretty directly into my future career.

I think the determining factor is whether you can learn more at home or at school during that year between age 4 and 5. And that probably varies a lot between different families.

Woohoo! It's good to be a geek! :-)

Supply Chain & Marketing, woot :)

Technical management degree AND marketing.

Right now I am working in the SCM side, though.

Gladwell, like Jared Diamond, is about excuse making. If success is circumstantial then so is failure. Make your own circumstances? Culture and intelligence as important factors? Nonsense.

The Gladwell/Diamond argument is countered by the fact successful people go from success to success, as do successful groups. Failure is also consistent.

Play God for a moment and drop any of the following anywhere in the world without assets; Ashkenazi Jews, Germans, Lebanese Christians, Norwegians, Overseas Chinese, Huegenot, SY Jews, or Greeks. Anywhere means anywhere, including Haiti. What will be the result?

Now, take any group with its origins in the Southern Hemisphere, aka The Failure Hemisphere, and drop them anywhere in the world. But give a million Euros to each person. The result?

It is foolishly optimistic of Gladwell to imagine the 'right circumstances' will solve the problem of a non-white, non-Asian minority underclass, whether in the U.S. or globally.

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