Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Outliers My Thoughts

I just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers last night. It was a good book and a real quick read (think Freakanomics only shorter). The basic premise of the book is that luck, particularly timing and opportunity, play a key role in success.

There are many examples of how fortunate circumstances that create these outliers in the book, and it’s an interesting premise. For example, if you look at the richest people of all time many of them are Americans born in a five year span during the Industrial revolution. As Gladwell points out, it would be hard to believe that individuals born within this five year span are immensely more talented. Instead the circumstances existed for individuals, such as Andrew Carnegie, to create large business monopolies and grow immense fortunes.

My post on Friday touched briefly on this idea. Identify what your passion is and then how the world is changing around you. What is an untapped technology or area for development? In 1999 it was the idea of the internet startup. Many people born ten years before me became rich off the internet gold rush. These “bubbles” are where we find outliers. It’s obviously very hard to predict where the next bubble will occur. In my opinion it will be internet driven technology. I’m really interested in Google’s internet based operating system. It’s a phenomenal idea and Google has a track record of excellent execution. If it starts to gain steam you will see a lot of ideas branch off this technology. I’m sure there are several wealthy individuals who have taken advantage of Apple’s iphone apps.

Even if the circumstances are ripe with opportunity not everyone in any given generation will be the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. It takes dedication. Gladwell mentions several studies stating that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to excel at something. Bill Gates for example had access to a computer before most people in the US. Back when they were only owned by very large corporations and several large universities. Therefore he was able to get in key training time that put him ahead of the curve. He also was supremely fascinated by the computer and would often sleep in the computing center constantly trying his programs. By the time he wrote MS-DOS Gates had an estimated 15-20K time programming. This is why it is necessary to pursue your passion; because success is directly correlated to time spent doing a task. Could you spend 10,000 hours doing something you hate?

If this seems like an interesting topic then pick up the book, it’s a really short read and entertaining. I’m currently reading The Tipping Point by Gladwell and expect to finish that in a week or two. If you’ve read it let me know your thoughts.

No comments:

Post a Comment