Archive | December, 2012

Outlier Trivia – A Book Report

23 Dec

If you’re tired of the same old stories at holiday parties a quick read through this book report, Outliers, will equip you with fun new trivia to share.

Malcolm Gladwell does a great job of using interesting research and stories to build a case. In the book Outliers, he builds the case that extraordinary success is not so much about hard work as it is time, location and heritage. He suggests people do not rise from nothing – they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages.

Here are a few topics…

The Matthew Effect – people that start out a little bit better than their peers get special treatment, training and advantages that lead to special opportunities. For example in sports, date of birth dramatically impacts likelihood of elite success. Seventy percent of elite Canadian hockey players are born in the first six months of the year (40% in the first three months.)

The 10,000-Hour Rule – apparently 10,000 hours of practice are required to achieve world-class mastery in almost any discipline; music, sports, writing, chess, etc. You only need 4,000 hours of practice to teach.

Bill Gates, while admittedly talented, smart and hard working, succeeded in part because he had unusual opportunities based on chance, and being born at the right time in history.

Wealth – of the 75 riches people in human history (starting with Cleopatra), 14 of the richest were American born within 9 years of each other in the mid 1800’s! How does one explain 20% of the richest people EVERY being clumped together like that? Opportunity – the railroad and Wall Street emerged.

IQ is good to a point (about 120), but does not translate into measurable real-world success. A study started in 1921 showed that the highest IQ kids in the class do not become Outliers or Nobel Prize winners.

Practical Intelligence is typically gotten from family. An extensive study examining a child’s ability to succeed in the world, based on economic factors, showed that children of poorer families were often better behaved, less whiny, more creative in making use of their own time and had a better sense of independence than kids from wealthier families. However, they are less able to advocate for themselves causing them to miss many opportunities.

Place and Time. There was a perfect birth date for New York Jewish lawyers – 1930. Based on the educational system at the time, the Depression, non-Jewish birth rates and Wall Street snobbishness, being born a poor Jewish immigrant in 1930 offered an opportunity that changed law firms forever.

Cultural Legacy. Feuds between families in Kentucky in the late 1800’s still affect well-educated, affluent descendents that never lived in the area,100 years later. In 1999 Korean Air nearly went out of business due to their inordinate number of plane crashes. The problem was not a lack of skill or equipment it was cultural norms. Apparently it was not OK to give the Captain negative feedback, which includes basic information.

Your only choice today is to expand your repartee of interesting facts and stories! If you like the book report, buy the book.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Judging or Evaluating?

13 Dec

Question… what’s the difference between judging and evaluating?  (Think about your answer before you read on.)

I’ve posed this question to numerous groups.  Typically answers include…

  • Evaluating is more data driven or factual
  • Judging is adding your opinion
  • Evaluation is objective
  • Judging is usually about personal perspective
  • Evaluating often includes input from the source
  • Judging includes added meaning  (extending what you know to what you think it means)
  • Evaluation is a process
  • Judging is drawing conclusions

FYI, I do think there is a difference between judging and using good judgment, for instance choosing to order a glass of water instead of a third glass of wine at happy hour might be considered good judgment if you are driving home anytime soon.

What I’m thinking about are all of the subtle, possibly unconscious, acts of judging we do in a typical day.   For example:

  • You see a person standing on a street corner with a sign indicating they’d like you to give them money.   What goes through your head?  Are your thoughts evaluative or have you added a degree of opinion, personal perspective and/or meaning (such as “this person looks perfectly capable of working – they should go find a job, by the size of that person I don’t think he/she is starving to death, etc.)
  • You see an adult with a couple of kids in public.  The kids are out of control and the adult isn’t doing anything about it, or they are screaming at the kids.  What are your thoughts?  Actions?
  • A person that you don’t particularly like is:  late, whispering with someone, not returning email as quickly as you think they should, dressed ‘like that’ or texting during a meeting. Do you assess them differently than people you like?  Are you adding personal bias?  Could there be a perfectly innocent, logical reason for their behavior?

Let me ask you this, are you helping the other person be the best they can be?  Are you loving them unconditionally?  At the end of the day, are you proud of your behavior?  Funny thing about judging, it often boomerangs’ back at you.

Starting with a more objective, evaluative posture, might increase your willingness to gather objective information, see more options and offer the benefit of doubt.

Today’s point of choice:

  1. Stop!
  2. Think about what you are thinking about.
  3. Ask yourself, “Am I evaluating or judging?”
  4. Ask yourself, “Is this in line with who I want to be?”