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robertogreco : talent   24

Opinion | You Don’t Want a Child Prodigy - The New York Times
"One Thursday in January, I hit “send” on the last round of edits for a new book about how society undervalues generalists — people who cultivate broad interests, zigzag in their careers and delay picking an area of expertise. Later that night, my wife started having intermittent contractions. By Sunday, I was wheeling my son’s bassinet down a hospital hallway toward a volunteer harpist, fantasizing about a music career launched in the maternity ward.

A friend had been teasing me for months about whether, as a parent, I would be able to listen to my own advice, or whether I would be a “do as I write, not as I do” dad, telling everyone else to slow down while I hustle to mold a baby genius. That’s right, I told him, sharing all of this research is part of my plan to sabotage the competition while secretly raising the Tiger Woods of blockchain (or perhaps the harp).

I do find the Tiger Woods story incredibly compelling; there is a reason it may be the most famous tale of development ever. Even if you don’t know the details, you’ve probably absorbed the gist.

Woods was 7 months old when his father gave him a putter, which he dragged around in his circular baby-walker. At 2, he showed off his drive on national television. By 21, he was the best golfer in the world. There were, to be sure, personal and professional bumps along the way, but in April he became the second-oldest player ever to win the Masters. Woods’s tale spawned an early-specialization industry.

And yet, I knew that his path was not the only way to the top.

Consider Roger Federer. Just a year before Woods won this most recent Masters, Federer, at 36, became the oldest tennis player ever to be ranked No. 1 in the world. But as a child, Federer was not solely focused on tennis. He dabbled in skiing, wrestling, swimming, skateboarding and squash. He played basketball, handball, tennis, table tennis and soccer (and badminton over his neighbor’s fence). Federer later credited the variety of sports with developing his athleticism and coordination.

While Tiger’s story is much better known, when sports scientists study top athletes, they find that the Roger pattern is the standard. Athletes who go on to become elite usually have a “sampling period.” They try a variety of sports, gain a breadth of general skills, learn about their own abilities and proclivities, and delay specializing until later than their peers who plateau at lower levels. The way to develop the best 20-year-old athlete, it turns out, is not the same as the way to make the best 10-year-old athlete.

The same general pattern tends to hold true for music, another domain where the annals of young prodigies are filled with tales of eight hours of violin, and only violin, a day. In online forums, well-meaning parents agonize over what instrument to pick for a child, because she is too young to pick for herself and will fall irredeemably behind if she waits. But studies on the development of musicians have found that, like athletes, the most promising often have a period of sampling and lightly structured play before finding the instrument and genre that suits them.

In fact, a cast of little-known generalists helped create some of the most famous music in history. The 18th-century orchestra that powered Vivaldi’s groundbreaking use of virtuoso soloists was composed largely of the orphaned daughters of Venice’s sex industry. The “figlie del coro,” as the musicians were known, became some of the best performers in the world. The most striking aspect of their development was that they learned an extraordinary number of different instruments.

This pattern extends beyond music and sports. Students who have to specialize earlier in their education — picking a pre-med or law track while still in high school — have higher earnings than their generalist peers at first, according to one economist’s research in several countries. But the later-specializing peers soon caught up. In sowing their wild intellectual oats, they got a better idea of what they could do and what they wanted to do. The early specializers, meanwhile, more often quit their career tracks.

I found the Roger pattern — not the Tiger (or Tiger Mother) pattern — in most domains I examined. Professional breadth paid off, from the creation of comic books (a creator’s years of experience did not predict performance, but the number of different genres the creator had worked in did) to technological innovation (the most successful inventors were those who had worked in a large number of the federal Patent and Trademark Office’s different technological classifications).

A study of scientists found that those who were nationally recognized were more likely to have avocations — playing music, woodworking, writing — than typical scientists, and that Nobel laureates were more likely still.

My favorite example of a generalist inventor is Gunpei Yokoi, who designed the Game Boy. Yokoi didn’t do as well on electronics exams as his friends, so he joined Nintendo as a machine maintenance worker when it was still a playing card company before going on to lead the creation of a toy and game operation. His philosophy, “lateral thinking with withered technology,” was predicated on dabbling in many different types of older, well-understood (or “withered”) technology, and combining them in new ways, hence the Game Boy’s thoroughly dated tech specs.

Roger stories abound. And yet, we (and I include myself) have a collective complex about sampling, zigzagging and swerving from (or simply not having) ironclad long-term plans. We are obsessed with narrow focus, head starts and precocity.

A few years ago, I was invited to speak to a small group of military veterans who had been given scholarships by the Pat Tillman Foundation to aid with new careers. I talked a bit about research on late specializers and was struck by the reception, as if the session had been cathartic.

One attendee emailed me afterward: “We are all transitioning from one career to another. Several of us got together after you had left and discussed how relieved we were to have heard you speak.” He was a former member of the Navy SEALs with an undergrad degree in history and geophysics and was pursuing grad degrees in business and public administration from Dartmouth and Harvard. I couldn’t help but chuckle that he had been made to feel behind.

Oliver Smithies would have made that veteran feel better too, I think. Smithies was a Nobel laureate scientist whom I interviewed in 2016, shortly before he died at 91. Smithies could not resist “picking up anything” to experiment with, a habit his colleagues noticed. Rather than throw out old or damaged equipment, they would leave it for him, with the label “Nbgbokfo”: “No bloody good but O.K. for Oliver.”

He veered across scientific disciplines — in his 50s, he took a sabbatical two floors away from his lab to learn a new discipline, in which he then did his Nobel work; he told me he published his most important paper when he was 60. His breakthroughs, he said, always came during what he called “Saturday morning experiments.” Nobody was around, and he could just play. “On Saturday,” he said, “you don’t have to be completely rational.”

I did have fleeting thoughts of a 1-day-old harp prodigy. I’ll admit it. But I know that what I really want to do is give my son a “Saturday experiment” kind of childhood: opportunities to try many things and help figuring out what he actually likes and is good at. For now, I’m content to help him learn that neither musical instruments nor sports equipment are for eating.

That said, just as I don’t plan to push specialization on him, I also don’t mean to suggest that parents should flip to the other extreme and start force-feeding diversification.

If of his own accord our son chooses to specialize early, fine. Both Mozart and Woods’s fathers began coaching their sons in response to the child’s display of interest and prowess, not the reverse. As Tiger Woods noted in 2000: “To this day, my dad has never asked me to go play golf. I ask him. It’s the child’s desire to play that matters, not the parent’s desire to have the child play.”

On the strength of what I’ve learned, I think I’ll find it easy to stick to my guns as a Roger father."
davidepstein  children  parenting  ports  talent  2019  burnout  generalists  specialization  specialists  prodigies  rogerfederer  tigerwoods  music  performance  gunpeiyokoi  gameboy  nintendo  oliversmithies  genius  science  learning  mozart  sampling  quitting  precocity  headstarts  education  focus 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Mike Gravel on Twitter: "Why is the media so in love with Buttigieg? Because his resume—USSYP, elite college, Rhodes—is an exemplar of meritocratic success. He is the child and apparent savior of America’s meritocratic ruling class."
"Why is the media so in love with Buttigieg? Because his resume—USSYP, elite college, Rhodes—is an exemplar of meritocratic success. He is the child and apparent savior of America’s meritocratic ruling class.

Professional Democrats and elite journalists are largely in thrall to the cult of meritocracy, which is the solidification and beautification of inequality. It is inequality based on socially-defined merit—but inequality nonetheless. It is “talent” made god.

And because the new elite ostensibly owes its position to merit, rather than inherited privilege, it feels no sense of noblesse oblige that older aristocracies felt; as Christopher Lasch pointed out, there is no valor or chivalry in the new system, just Darwinian triumph.

Ultimately, as Lasch said, “meritocracy is a parody of democracy.” Meritocracy is an idea that allows the ruling class to hold on to power through the illusion that they deserve it because of merit (read Genovese). It tells the underclass—don’t worry, all is just in the world.

The popularity of true leftism seems to augur the return of old class-based politics, when Democrats were populists who fought for equality, not inequality under the veil of meritocracy. Buttigieg is the archetypal meritocrat—he is the perfect one to save the system.

It is the dream and hope of the meritocrats in journalism and politics that Buttigieg’s shininess distracts from the ravaged country that the current system, the one he clearly wants to perpetuate, has created.

The rule of the meritocrats, the “best and brightest,” has given us a country riven by rampant inequality, drug addiction, and endless wars abroad. Whether their name is Wolfowitz or Summers or Rubin, they’ve been in charge for decades—and look how far we’ve come!

To paraphrase Bakunin: “When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called ‘the Meritocratic Stick.’”

It’s time to return to a politics cognizant of class, one that is not obsessed with helping the best and brightest rise to the top, with making our unequal system more diverse, but instead concerned with leveling the system entirely. The promise of a good life for all."
mikegravel  meritocracy  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  inequality  noblesseoblige  society  socialdarwinism  journalism  journalists  education  petemuttigieg  capitalism  liberalism  neoliberalism  class  classism  rankings  success  justification  talent  christopherlasch  chivalry  power  control  self-importance  canon  politics  policy  mikhailbakunin  paulwolfowitz  larrysummers  robertrubin 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized - Scientific American Blog Network
"What does it take to succeed? What are the secrets of the most successful people? Judging by the popularity of magazines such as Success, Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur, there is no shortage of interest in these questions. There is a deep underlying assumption, however, that we can learn from them because it's their personal characteristics--such as talent, skill, mental toughness, hard work, tenacity, optimism, growth mindset, and emotional intelligence-- that got them where they are today. This assumption doesn't only underlie success magazines, but also how we distribute resources in society, from work opportunities to fame to government grants to public policy decisions. We tend to give out resources to those who have a past history of success, and tend to ignore those who have been unsuccessful, assuming that the most successful are also the most competent.

But is this assumption correct? I have spent my entire career studying the psychological characteristics that predict achievement and creativity. While I have found that a certain number of traits-- including passion, perseverance, imagination, intellectual curiosity, and openness to experience-- do significantly explain differences in success, I am often intrigued by just how much of the variance is often left unexplained.

In recent years, a number of studies and books--including those by risk analyst Nassim Taleb, investment strategist Michael Mauboussin, and economist Richard Frank-- have suggested that luck and opportunity may play a far greater role than we ever realized, across a number of fields, including financial trading, business, sports, art, music, literature, and science. Their argument is not that luck is everything; of course talent matters. Instead, the data suggests that we miss out on a really importance piece of the success picture if we only focus on personal characteristics in attempting to understand the determinants of success.

Consider some recent findings:

• About half of the differences in income across people worldwide is explained by their country of residence and by the income distribution within that country,
• Scientific impact is randomly distributed, with high productivity alone having a limited effect on the likelihood of high-impact work in a scientific career,
The chance of becoming a CEO is influenced by your name or month of birth,
• The number of CEOs born in June and July is much smaller than the number of CEOs born in other months,
• Those with last names earlier in the alphabet are more likely to receive tenure at top departments,
• The display of middle initials increases positive evaluations of people's intellectual capacities and achievements,
• People with easy to pronounce names are judged more positively than those with difficult-to-pronounce names,
• Females with masculine sounding names are more successful in legal careers.

The importance of the hidden dimension of luck raises an intriguing question: Are the most successful people mostly just the luckiest people in our society? If this were even a little bit true, then this would have some significant implications for how we distribute limited resources, and for the potential for the rich and successful to actually benefit society (versus benefiting themselves by getting even more rich and successful).

In an attempt to shed light on this heavy issue, the Italian physicists Alessandro Pluchino and Andrea Raspisarda teamed up with the Italian economist Alessio Biondo to make the first ever attempt to quantify the role of luck and talent in successful careers. In their prior work, they warned against a "naive meritocracy", in which people actually fail to give honors and rewards to the most competent people because of their underestimation of the role of randomness among the determinants of success. To formally capture this phenomenon, they proposed a "toy mathematical model" that simulated the evolution of careers of a collective population over a worklife of 40 years (from age 20-60).

The Italian researchers stuck a large number of hypothetical individuals ("agents") with different degrees of "talent" into a square world and let their lives unfold over the course of their entire worklife. They defined talent as whatever set of personal characteristics allow a person to exploit lucky opportunities (I've argued elsewhere that this is a reasonable definition of talent). Talent can include traits such as intelligence, skill, motivation, determination, creative thinking, emotional intelligence, etc. The key is that more talented people are going to be more likely to get the most 'bang for their buck' out of a given opportunity (see here for support of this assumption).

All agents began the simulation with the same level of success (10 "units"). Every 6 months, individuals were exposed to a certain number of lucky events (in green) and a certain amount of unlucky events (in red). Whenever a person encountered an unlucky event, their success was reduced in half, and whenever a person encountered a lucky event, their success doubled proportional to their talent (to reflect the real-world interaction between talent and opportunity).

What did they find? Well, first they replicated the well known "Pareto Principle", which predicts that a small number of people will end up achieving the success of most of the population (Richard Koch refers to it as the "80/20 principle"). In the final outcome of the 40-year simulation, while talent was normally distributed, success was not. The 20 most successful individuals held 44% of the total amount of success, while almost half of the population remained under 10 units of success (which was the initial starting condition). This is consistent with real-world data, although there is some suggestion that in the real world, wealth success is even more unevenly distributed, with just eight men owning the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.

[graphs]

Although such an unequal distribution may seem unfair, it might be justifiable if it turned out that the most successful people were indeed the most talented/competent. So what did the simulation find? On the one hand, talent wasn't irrelevant to success. In general, those with greater talent had a higher probability of increasing their success by exploiting the possibilities offered by luck. Also, the most successful agents were mostly at least average in talent. So talent mattered.

However, talent was definitely not sufficient because the most talented individuals were rarely the most successful. In general, mediocre-but-lucky people were much more successful than more-talented-but-unlucky individuals. The most successful agents tended to be those who were only slightly above average in talent but with a lot of luck in their lives.

Consider the evolution of success for the most successful person and the least successful person in one of their simulations:

[graphs]

As you can see, the highly successful person in green had a series of very lucky events in their life, whereas the least successful person in red (who was even more talented than the other person) had an unbearable number of unlucky events in their life. As the authors note, "even a great talent becomes useless against the fury of misfortune."

Talent loss is obviously unfortunate, to both the individual and to society. So what can be done so that those most capable of capitalizing on their opportunities are given the opportunities they most need to thrive? Let's turn to that next."



"This last finding is intriguing because it is consistent with other research suggesting that in complex social and economic contexts where chance is likely to play a role, strategies that incorporate randomness can perform better than strategies based on the "naively meritocratic" approach."



"Conclusion

The results of this elucidating simulation, which dovetail with a growing number of studies based on real-world data, strongly suggest that luck and opportunity play an underappreciated role in determining the final level of individual success. As the researchers point out, since rewards and resources are usually given to those who are already highly rewarded, this often causes a lack of opportunities for those who are most talented (i.e., have the greatest potential to actually benefit from the resources), and it doesn't take into account the important role of luck, which can emerge spontaneously throughout the creative process. The researchers argue that the following factors are all important in giving people more chances of success: a stimulating environment rich in opportunities, a good education, intensive training, and an efficient strategy for the distribution of funds and resources. They argue that at the macro-level of analysis, any policy that can influence these factors will result in greater collective progress and innovation for society (not to mention immense self-actualization of any particular individual)."
luck  meritocracy  2018  success  research  scottbarrykaufman  inequality  diversity  talent  serendipity  chance  society  misfortune  gender  race 
march 2018 by robertogreco
The Limits of “Grit” - The New Yorker
"For children, the situation has grown worse as we’ve slackened our efforts to fight poverty. In 1966, when Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives were a major national priority, the poverty rate among American children was eighteen per cent. Now it is twenty-two per cent. If we suffer from a grit deficiency in this country, it shows up in our unwillingness to face what is obviously true—that poverty is the real cause of failing schools.

In this context, grit appears as a new hope. As the federal programs stalled, psychologists, neuroscientists, pediatricians, education reformers, and journalists began looking at the lives of children in a different way. Their central finding: non-cognitive skills play just as great a role as talent and native intelligence (I.Q.) in the academic and social success of children, and maybe even a greater role. In brief, we are obsessed with talent, but we should also be obsessed with effort. Duckworth is both benefitting from this line of thought and expanding it herself. The finding about non-cognitive skills is being treated as a revelation, and maybe it should be; among other things, it opens possible avenues for action. Could cultivating grit and other character traits be the cure, the silver bullet that ends low performance?"



"Now, there’s something very odd about this list. There’s nothing in it about honesty or courage; nothing about integrity, kindliness, responsibility for others. The list is innocent of ethics, any notion of moral development, any mention of the behaviors by which character has traditionally been marked. Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth would seem to be preparing children for personal success only—doing well at school, getting into college, getting a job, especially a corporate job where such docility as is suggested by these approved traits (gratitude?) would be much appreciated by managers. Putting it politically, the “character” inculcated in students by Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth is perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy. Putting it morally and existentially, the list is timid and empty. The creativity and wildness that were once our grace to imagine as part of human existence would be extinguished by strict adherence to these instrumentalist guidelines."



"Not just Duckworth’s research but the entire process feels tautological: we will decide what elements of “character” are essential to success, and we will inculcate these attributes in children, measuring and grading the children accordingly, and shutting down, as collateral damage, many other attributes of character and many children as well. Among other things, we will give up the sentimental notion that one of the cardinal functions of education is to bring out the individual nature of every child.

Can so narrow an ideal of character flourish in a society as abundantly and variously gifted as our own? Duckworth’s view of life is devoted exclusively to doing, at the expense of being. She seems indifferent to originality or creativity or even simple thoughtfulness. We must all gear up, for grit is a cause, an imp of force. “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” Through much of “Grit,” she gives the impression that quitting any activity before achieving mastery is a cop-out. (“How many of us vow to knit sweaters for all our friends but only manage half a sleeve before putting down the needles? Ditto for home vegetable gardens, compost bins, and diets.”) But what is the value of these projects? Surely some things are more worth pursuing than others. If grit mania really flowers, one can imagine a mass of grimly determined people exhausting themselves and everyone around them with obsessional devotion to semi-worthless tasks—a race of American squares, anxious, compulsive, and constrained. They can never try hard enough.

Duckworth’s single-mindedness could pose something of a danger to the literal-minded. Young people who stick to their obsessions could wind up out on a limb, without a market for their skills. Spelling ability is nice, if somewhat less useful than, say, the ability to make a mixed drink—a Negroni, a Tom Collins. But what do you do with it? Are the thirteen-year-old champion spellers going to go through life spelling out difficult words to astonished listeners? I realize, of course, that persistence in childhood may pay off years later in some unrelated activity. But I’m an owlish enough parent to insist that the champion spellers might have spent their time reading something good—or interacting with other kids. And what if a child has only moderate talent for her particular passion? Mike Egan, a former member of the United States Marine Band, wrote a letter to the Times Book Review in response to Judith Shulevitz’s review of Duckworth’s book. “Anyone who would tell a child that the only thing standing between him or her and world-class achievement is sufficient work,” Egan wrote, “ought to be jailed for child abuse.”

Duckworth not only ignores the actual market for skills and talents, she barely acknowledges that success has more than a casual relation to family income. After all, few of us can stick to a passion year after year that doesn’t pay off—not without serious support. Speaking for myself, the most important element in my social capital as an upper-middle-class New York guy was, indeed, capital—my parents carried me for a number of years as I fumbled my way to a career as a journalist and critic. Did I have grit? I suppose so, but their support made persistence possible.

After many examples of success, Duckworth announces a theory: “Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = achievement.” It’s hardly E=mc2. It’s hardly a theory at all—it’s more like a pop way of formalizing commonplace observation and single-mindedness. Compare Duckworth’s book in this respect with Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” Gladwell also traced the backgrounds of extraordinarily accomplished people—the computer geniuses Bill Gates and Bill Joy, business tycoons, top lawyers in New York, and so on. And Gladwell discovered that, yes, his world-beaters devoted years to learning and to practice: ten thousand hours, he says, is the rough amount of time it takes for talented people to become masters.

Yet, if perseverance is central to Gladwell’s outliers, it’s hardly the sole reason for their success. Family background, opportunity, culture, landing at the right place at the right time, the over-all state of the economy—all these elements, operating at once, allow some talented people to do much better than other talented people. Gladwell provides the history and context of successful lives. Duckworth—indifferent to class, race, history, society, culture—strips success of its human reality, and her single-minded theory may explain very little. Is there any good football team, for instance, that doesn’t believe in endless practice, endurance, overcoming pain and exhaustion? All professional football teams train hard, so grit can’t be the necessary explanation for the Seahawks’ success. Pete Carroll and his coaches must be bringing other qualities, other strategies, to the field. Observing those special qualities is where actual understanding might begin."
grit  2016  angeladuckworth  race  class  luck  perseverance  daviddenby  education  mastery  practice  kipp  character  classism  elitism  obsessions  malcolmgladwell  serendipity  mikeegan  judithshulevitz  capital  privilege  success  effort  talent  skill  achievement  history  culture  society  edreform  nep  pisa  testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  socialscience  paultough  children  schools  poverty  eq  neuroscience  jackshonkoff  martinseligman  learnedoptimism  depression  pessimism  optimism  davelevin  dominicrandolph  honesty  courage  integrity  kindliness  kindness  samuelabrams 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The 50-point plan to ruin yer career...and (possibly) save your life | 22 Words
"1. Enjoy the G–damned moment.
2. Love where you’re from.
3. Move somewhere wild.
4. Frequent eateries that use decimal points in their menu.
5. Know your f—ing condiments.
6. Get out there and get dirty.
7. And then, share what you find.
8. Work with yer friends.
9. Know yer tools and be thankful they exist.
10. Go wherever they’ll send you.
11. Shed any G–damned sense of entitlement.
12. Provide proof of a bonafide graphic art existence.
13. Fight for the long dogs.
14. Lose the crutch.
15. Exhibit a little humility.
16. Quit spending yer money on bulls—.
17. Be wary of certain business professionals.
18. Pay off those f—ing school loans already.
19. Laugh at stuff.
20. Turn yer back on organized sports.
21. Dream up a plan.
22. Get cosmic.
23. Take color theory seriously.
24. Make some room for magic.
25. Say what you mean.
26. Get it on vinyl.
27. Be ready for when they call you up to the big leagues.
28. Learn an instrument.
29. Be the client.
30. Go by car.
31. Know what really matters in the end.
32. Buy things made in America.
33. Question stuff constantly.
34. Know who’s got the power.
35. Collect cool s—.
36. Grab yer social media by the throat.
37. Savor the little stuff.
38. Support yer local rock bands.
39. Know all the shades of being “professional”.
40. Don’t worry about awards.
41. Quit saying the word “dude”.
42. Make big-ass posters.
43. Go pantless.
44. Get free.
45. Treat the UPS guy, mail lady, and printing pressman like they are gold.
46. Know what you love.
47. And don’t forget about the things you hate.
48. Learn to roll with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
49. Work hard and love this s—.
50. Be thankful for everything."

[direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/39441590 ]
aarondraplin  design  professionalism  talent  via:lukeneff  aaronjamesdraplin  sports  life  living  howwework  2012  questioning  fun 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Hiut Denim - Our user manual
"12, Judge the business over the long-term. The early years are never easy.

It takes time to build a business. The first couple of years are inevitably tricky. The basic systems and the infrastructure all have to be built up from scratch, the customer will have to be found, and the product refined. It is a time when the business is both time and cash hungry.

But we should not be quick to judge the business. It should be given time to grow slowly. Patience is what will be needed. Hard work takes time to show the fruits of all that labour.

We should view a young business as we would a young child. It needs love, time and a set of rules to adhere to. It will make mistakes, it will fall and it will need the parents to be there for it as it grows and becomes its own person. We should not make too many demands on it when it is young, let the child play for a while.

It will grow up before we know it.

[There is no #13?]

14, Lets not underestimate the importance of lady luck.

Luck matters. You can have a great product, a great team, and an idea how to change things, and still fail. All businesses need luck.

The best way to get luck on our side is to work hard at what we love doing, and have ideas that haven’t been done before. And be honest with people, keep our word, and sometimes do things for people without expecting anything in return.

The other aspect to luck is its close cousin called talent. To have a feel for what the customer wants, to imagine something that doesn’t exist, to come up with something that captures a zeitgeist, well, that has little to do with luck.

These two things are often confused with each other. But both are vital to success.

15, Stay independent. Stay in control. (See point 1&2)

It is important to be in control of your own destiny. William Blake said it best “you need to create your own system or be enslaved by another man’s”.

The reason our independence is important for us is that it allows us to shape the business by what we feel is right, it can grow at a pace that the company feels comfortable with, it can make decisions for the long term, it can do things that make no sense to the bottom line at the time, but may well do in the future.

This may mean that our company will not be the biggest, but it should ensure the company stays true, creative and loved. And, importantly, that it will keep making jeans in this town when there will always be cheaper places to make them.

I will settle for being great at this thing over being big at this thing."



"17, Make us all proud of the company we own.

We measure things mostly in numbers. But there are other important ways to measure how well a business is doing. These are things like ‘Are we proud of it?’, ‘Is it loved?, Is it insanely creative?

But these are just as important as ‘Are we growing?’ ‘Are the margins good?’ ‘Are the customers happy?’

If we build something we are incredibly proud of, that is loved, that is insanely creative, you can be sure that it will also be a great business too.

18, Work with great people. Go home early.

We are going to run a creative company. The good thing is we know how to work with creative people. If we work with great people, they will challenge us. They will push us. They will frighten us. But ultimately it will be a much easier life than working with average, mediocre, or middle of the road.

When we find great people, we will do the following: trust them, give them room that their talent deserves, and let them fly like they have never flown before.

19, Make it fun. Make it easy.

The wrong stress is not good for a business. Or, for the people running it.
But you can minimize the wrong stress by planning for less sales than you hope for and for keeping your costs lower than the business requires. And you can put in systems so that the business is easy to run. Systems that work almost without thinking.

Then we can get on with the serious stuff of making the business as creative and as fun as we possibly can. The ideas that will come out of that culture will make us stand out. They will increase sales. Help us get known. And define us.

In time, that will produce good stress of ‘how on earth are we going to get all these orders out of the door’. And ‘how do we come up with another idea as good as the last one’. That is good stress."



"23, Don’t be average.

Be great at what you do. Life is short."
hiut  via:ethanbodnar  business  slow  patience  tcsnmy  cv  small  luck  growth  manifestos  communitymanagement  inspiration  management  manifesto  administration  leadership  values  howwework  success  fulfillment  williamblake  independence  standingout  talent  time  control 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Speculative Diction | Scholars without borders? Not quite. | University Affairs
"For all these reasons and undoubtedly many more, the “talent market” is clearly a deeply unequal one, and is not genuinely meritocratic; it’s a reflection, indeed an amplification, of existing inequalities. Specifically for academics, when combined with the tendency towards élite, targeted funding and emphasis on overseas recruitment of “the best”, and an increasingly stratified and fragmented academic workforce, we have to ask what the globalised (and polarised) professoriate is going to look like. If it’s going to follow the same lines as other aspects of globalisation such as so-called free trade, then I think we can do a whole lot better."
meloniefullick  elite  elitism  talentmarket  talent  inequality  highered  higheducation  academia  globalization  2013  freetrade  meritocracy  recruitment  visas 
may 2013 by robertogreco
minimum force, corporeal anticipation |
“For it is Sennett’s contention that “nearly anyone can become a good craftsman” and that “learning to work well enables people to govern themselves and so become good citizens.” This line of thought depends, among other things, upon the Enlightenment assumption that craft abilities are innate and widely distributed, and that, when rightly stimulated and trained, they allow craftsmen to become knowledgeable public persons.

And what is it that such persons know? They know how to negotiate between autonomy and authority (as one must in any workshop); how to work not against resistant forces but with them (as did the engineers who first drilled tunnels beneath the Thames); how to complete their tasks using “minimum force” (as do all chefs who must chop vegetables); how to meet people and things with sympathetic imagination (as does the glassblower whose “corporeal anticipation” lets her stay one step ahead of the molten glass); and above all they know how to play, for it is in play that we find “the origin of the dialogue the craftsman conducts with materials like clay and glass.”

The assumption that craft abilities are widely diffused leads Sennett into a meditation on our love of those intelligence tests by which we supposedly single out the very smart and the very stupid so that some will go to college and others go to bagging groceries. Sennett points out that such sorting ignores the “densely populated middle ground” where most of the population is actually found. Rather than celebrating a “common ground of talents,” we tend to inflate “small differences in degree into large differences in kind” and so legitimate existing systems of privilege. Thinking of the median as the mediocre creates an excuse for neglect. This is one reason, Sennett argues, that “it proves so hard to find charitable contributions to vocational schools” while currently the wealth of the Ivy League schools is compounding at an astounding rate.”

[from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/books/review/Hyde-t.html?pagewanted=all ]
crafy  autonomy  craftsmanship  richardsennett  authority  resistance  force  forces  minimumforce  imagination  sympathy  play  materials  making  middleground  talent  talents  privilege  mediocrity  median  vocationalschools  wealth  knowing  knowledge  understanding  enlightenment  sarahendren  citizenship  openstudioproject  glvo  lcproject  cv  corporealanticipation  learning  work  tcsnmy  progressiveeducation  elitism  2008  lewishyde 
march 2013 by robertogreco
ChristianLindholm.com: Dinner of a lifetime
"We also touched on the future of advertising and graphic design. They seemed to all note that advertising needs to be close to the product and that advertising should be a bridge from the product to the consumer. With Internet this bridge is shorter or even non existent. They clearly acknowledged that that will change everything, but a challenge for the next generation to grapple with.

Lessons learned:

1. Once you discover a life-work passion pursue it relentlessly.
2. Raw talent can be compensated by hard work and persistence.
3. Get yourself into places where you can learn."
howwelearn  learningplaces  placesoflearning  openstudioproject  lcproject  surroundyourselfwithgoodpeople  workethic  hardwork  talent  persistence  passion  2012  christianlindholm  via:preoccupations  education  advertising  learning 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Sorry, Strivers - Talent Matters - NYTimes.com
"Research has shown that intellectual ability matters for success in many fields — and not just up to a point…

It would be nice if intellectual ability and the capacities that underlie it were important for success only up to a point. In fact, it would be nice if they weren’t important at all, because research shows that those factors are highly stable across an individual’s life span. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

None of this is to deny the power of practice. Nor is it to say that it’s impossible for a person with an average I.Q. to, say, earn a Ph.D. in physics. It’s just unlikely, relatively speaking. Sometimes the story that science tells us isn’t the story we want to hear."
talent  psychology  intelligence  practice  success  2011  research  davidhambrick  elizabethmeinz  davidbrooks  malcolmgladwell  iq 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Haruki Murakami: Talent Is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance :: Articles :: The 99 Percent
"It's not surprising then that, for Murakami, the act of running and the act of creating are inextricably linked, like the two sides of a Möbius strip. As he writes about the evolution of his running career — from his first marathon to his first ultramarathon (62 miles) to his first triathlon — he constantly circles back to how his athletic experiences have impacted his writing practice, and vice versa. For Murakami, the creative process is a sport.<br />
 <br />
Here's what he has to say about talent, focus, and endurance: [long quote]"
harukimurakami  writing  endurance  workethic  running  focus  training  practice  talent 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Drive - by Daniel Pink | Derek Sivers
"Your best approach is to have already established the conditions of a genuinely motivating environment. The baseline rewards must be sufficient. That is, the team’s basic compensation must be adequate and fair - particularly compared with people doing similar work for similar organizations. Your nonprofit must be a congenial place to work. And the people on your team must have autonomy, they must have ample opportunity to pursue mastery, and their daily duties must relate to a larger purpose. If these elements are in place, the best strategy is to provide a sense of urgency and significance - and then get out of the talent’s way.

Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete. Holding out a prize at the beginning of a project - and offering it as a contingency - will inevitably focus people’s attention on obtaining the reward rather than on attacking the problem."

[via: http://gaiwan.tumblr.com/post/7206114293 ]
books  drive  danielpink  motivation  extrinsicmotivation  teams  teamwork  autonomy  nonprofit  urgency  significance  talent  work  management  administration  congeniality  howwework  nonprofits 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Denis Diderot quotes
“In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well. But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves. In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don't have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty. That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all.”
denisdiderot  mony  wealth  poverty  economics  motivation  talent  virtue  will  capitalism  marxism  ostentation  affluence  corruption  power  disparity  inequality  incomegap  diderot 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Being Smart Considered Harmful « And Yet It Moves
"Scratch…Every project can be improved or branched. We can all improve on our own work,…help each other explore new ideas. We need to be able to start with an initial effort, knowing it will take more work to create a finished product and knowing that’s okay. This is exactly what we want students to do when they revise an essay in English class… when they use data to formulate a new hypothesis in science class…supports the growth mindset & the process of iterative improvement. All we have to do is not screw it up. But that turns out to be a harder than it looks."

"I’m going to start by trying to think and talk more about problem-solving skills rather than “intelligence”.

A student is doing a good job digging in to a problem. A student is doing a good job deepening their investigation. A student is doing a good job analyzing a situation to find new approaches. A student is doing a good job upgrading their skillset. Aren’t these all so much more important than just being smart?"
scratch  iteration  growthmindset  caroldweck  seymourpapert  programming  coding  constructivism  learning  unschooling  deschooling  intelligence  teaching  schools  problemsolving  errors  bugs  mindstorms  priming  failure  benchun  talent  beingwrong  tcsnmy  projectbasedlearning  pbl 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Positively Terrified | The Do Village
"The discrepancy of being good at something & having a passion for something are immense. A lot of the time realising that there is a difference between the 2 seems even harder. Yet once it creeps up in the back of your  mind, there is no getting rid of it. The feeling grows until you have to take action of some kind.

Which is why having the integrity to quit something, to explore alternatives – to figure out what I’d enjoy more – is the easiest & the hardest thing at the same time…

I’ve taken the plunge in favour of personal motivation & aspiration. I am trading a reliable job…for a 4 week placement…Reality has sunk in, & I am left feeling that I am doing the right thing – not because it’s sensible, but because I believe in it, & feel that I need to do this for no one other than myself.

I am much looking forward to what is to come. If I fail, I will figure it out once I am in that position. If I succeed, it might have been one of the best decisions I have taken for myself."
change  passion  talent  yearoff  cv  fear  risktaking  failure  success  regret  struggle  fulfillment  life  localmaximums  motivation  decisionmaking 
march 2011 by robertogreco
WNYC - Radiolab » Secrets of Success
"Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t like Gifted and Talented Education Programs. And he doesn’t believe that innate ability can fully explain superstar hockey players or billionaire software giants. In this podcast, we listen in on a conversation between Robert and Malcolm recorded at the 92nd St Y. Robert asks Malcolm if he’s a “genius denier,” and Malcolm asks Robert if he’s uncomfortable with the power of love, as they duke it out over questions of luck, talent, passion, and success."
genius  luck  talent  passion  success  love  malcolmgladwell  science  radiolab  brain  desire  leadership  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  mattheweffect  circumstance  coincidence  billgates  advantage  generations  timing 
august 2010 by robertogreco
You have no talent: An introduction – Research, reflection, and rethinking
[See also: http://drtimony.com/?p=95 AND http://drtimony.com/?p=96 ]

"Talent is a label given by people who do not know the amount of practice that has been performed in order to develop observed skills. It is a microinequity. It is an insult. It says, “You have skills that in my judgment, you did not earn.” Isn’t it a much greater ‘gift’ to have worked hard at developing a demonstrable skill? The owners of these skills are, as are most, unreliable in reporting their own levels of interest and effort. When asked if they practice, they under-report. When inquired about their interest, they are blasé. Isaac Stern, when interviewed by Ellen Langer about his practice habits says that he practices sometimes while ‘watching television programs’ and laughs. Musicians are notorious for under- and over-reporting their practice (depending on who they are trying to impress)."
talent  ability  cognition  work  effort  dedication  practice  skill 
july 2010 by robertogreco
RSA - No limits
"This does not mean, of course, that every person has the same resources and opportunities or that anyone can be great at anything; biological and circumstantial differences and advantages or disadvantages abound. However, by revealing talent to be a process rather than a thing, we can debunk the simplistic idea of genetic giftedness. It is no longer reasonable to attribute talent or success to a specific gene or to any other mysterious gift. The real gift, it turns out, belongs to virtually all of us: it is the plasticity and the extraordinary responsiveness built into basic human biology."
talent  practice  creativity  psychology  expertise  learning  doing  tcsnmy  potential  davidshenck  adaptability  toshare  topost  plasticity  genius  sports  persistence  hardwork  experience  iteration 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Dancing Towards Uncertainty - Notes from the Classroom - GOOD
"Brandon did not have a formal education of any kind until the 4th grade (his parents were content to let him run around in woods), he still managed to get higher scores on more AP tests than any student in the history of our school...since it is my job, I told him to stay in school, work hard, & climb ladder...Brandon, however, does not want the ladder. He wants to dance.

&...I want to join him. I, too, am tired of the coldly constructed educational approach that demands a clear answer to every question. I believe that before growth can happen there has to be a period of doubt & uncertainty. Certainty kills innovation, & while I need a degree of certainty in the surgeon poking around in my brain or the pilot flying my plane, I also hope that somewhere along the line they have learned how to be creative. When problems develop for which they have been provided no textbook answer, I need them to be able to step back, take a breath, & lose themselves in the dance of the moment."
certainty  uncertainty  art  dance  education  learning  passion  talent  highschool  genius  unschooling  design  deschooling  society  ratrace  challenge  tcsnmy  lcproject  creativity  problemsolving  criticalthinking  teaching  purpose 
june 2010 by robertogreco
How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity - Harvard Business Review
"Pixar is a community in the true sense of the word. We think that lasting relationships matter, & we share some basic beliefs: Talent is rare. Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build capability to recover when failures occur. It must be safe to tell truth. We must constantly challenge all of our assumptions & search for flaws that could destroy our culture...To act in this fashion, we...have to resist our natural tendency to avoid or minimize risks...much easier said than done. In movie business &...others, this instinct leads executives to choose to copy successes rather than try to create something brand-new...why you see so many movies that are so much alike...why a lot of films aren’t very good. If you want to be original, you have to accept the uncertainty, even when it’s uncomfortable, & have capability to recover when organization takes a big risk & fails. What’s key to being able to recover? Talented people!...not so easy to find."
business  uncertainty  leadership  management  administration  creativity  pixar  edcatmull  risk  tcsnmy  learning  truth  culture  organizations  safety  talent  resilience  recovery  community  unschooling  deschooling  certainty  adaptability  risktaking  lcproject 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Denial of expertise ¶ Personal Weblog of Joe Clark, Toronto
"At a certain point, you have to admit you aren’t good enough to do something better than an expert could do it even if the technical option exists for you to give it a shot anyway.
ipad  open  opensource  apple  coding  expertise  schooling  nonexperts  hacking  talent 
april 2010 by robertogreco

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