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Juan Miguel A. Montes

Dear Mr. Gladwell,

I loved your books and am now a big fan of your articles. I had just read "Late Bloomers" and it reminded me of a blog entry by Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur Marc Andreesen. His blog article, entitled "Age and the Entrepreneur, part 1: Some Data"

http://blog.pmarca.com/2007/08/age-and-the-ent.html

also touches on the phenomenon of the Creativity - to - Age distribution of "geniuses" but includes even "geniuses" from outside of the fine arts.

Mr. Andreesen discusses passages from a 1988 study by a University of California Davis Professor of Psychology - Dean Simonton - entitled "Age and Outstanding Achievement: What Do We Know After a Century of Research?"

In his take, Age-to-Creative Productivity data in geniuses cluster field-wise, rather than according to the "conceptual" vs "experimental" axis.

For example, the reference he cites suggests that the typically "precocious" come from the ranks of pure mathematicians, lyric poets, and theoretical physicists, while "late bloomers" appear among novelists, historians, philosophers, medical scientists, and general scholars.

Perhaps you are familiar with the Simonton reference and the Andreesen article - they seem to agree with your own article's premise that we stereotypically identify creative genius with precocity but we miss the actual variations in the data. I couldn't help but think that perhaps your framework and Mr. Andreesen's may be pointing in the same direction.

I would love to hear your discussion on this.


Best regards,

Juan Miguel A. Montes

Philippines

Juan Miguel A. Montes

P.S.

Oh I just read what I wrote and then again I am thinking that the field-wise clustering actually follows the "conceptual" vs. "experimental" clustering!

Key words: "pure... theoretical..." vs. "historian... medical scientist..."

Robin

I've often wondered about those people who seem to have chosen the right career at age 22 and developed it all the way to their mid 40's. They would like to try something new. However, because of all their previous successes, headhunters trap them to only their previous industries.

Then I wonder about the many who didn't know what they wanted to be when they graduated. Or when they did, the field they were in was hot and then it became obsolete (think of the IT jobs lost to outsourcing to other countries.) Or they get to know themselves and their strengths better and now they're really ready to release great products. Problem is they haven't built up that "proven track record" employers demand.

Why can't we evaluate people on what they can do NOW?

Marion James

Malcolm,
I have just read your book "Outliers", which I found absolutely fascinating. I am left wondering whether a person with adverse human qualities is also a type of "outlier"? For instance, do paedophiles all have some environmental or cultural basis for their perversion. Do mass murderers have similar traits? Have you thought of looking into this at all?! I ask because my father had let's say "problems" which he blamed in part upon his upbringing. It would be nice to think he was simply dealt a bad hand in life, and that under different circumstances he could have been a good man - but I doubt it. Any comments?!

Carla Robinson

Hi Malcolm, congrats on your success with Outliers. I just wanted to add an idea on creativity and being part indigenous. I went to huge journalist of color conference in Seattle in 1999 where people were organized into four groups according to their racial organizations, the Hispanic Journalist Assoc, the Asian JA, The African American JA, and the Native American JA (NAJA). I attended events and workshops for all the different groups and hung out with people from all dif. backgrounds. The cultural events each group held were very much what you'd expect, but the dialogue at the different workshops and plenaries surprised me. I noticed it because I'm a news anchor in Canada who is Native Canadian, and was hanging out with Hattie Kaufman, who is one of the first Native American news anchors with CBS. All the other groups seemed most concerned about breaking down the glass ceilings and getting ahead at the big networks and papers. Meanwhile at the NAJA events, the discussions were more about strengthening the media in our communities, tribal radio and newspapers, and identity, etc. With Hattie and myself, they were kind of like, 'that's very nice that you two are doing well in their world, congratulations, now back to constructing our radio and newspaper institutions. I wasn't offended, I just noticed that culturally it's wasn't important for many of the Native journalists to fit into the mainstream world. While they want jobs to feed their family, Native ideas of success are far from rising to the top of society's social strata. But, in a way, we are Outliers. If you look at a lot of musicians with Native backgrounds, this ability to stand away from the crowd and pursue your own unique voice can lead to incredible creative and unique perspectives. Two of Elvis Presley's grandparents were Creek or Cherokee Indians (he was also part Jewish, Scottish, from a family of sharecroppers) Buffy St. Marie, Link Wray, and many others. I noticed in the last chapter that you have some Arawak in your blood, maybe your ability to see beyond societies social constructs is a gift from your ancestor!

Rachelle

I just finished Outliers—loved it. I can’t find a schedule of your speaking/book tour. When are you coming to Minneapolis again?

Lynda Filler

I am such a ditz ...haha, I posted a comment for you on Outliers and Late Bloomers over on the page for The War On Drugs...and then lost it in the cyber world. I hope you find it and enjoy it....
you are amazing,
thank you,
Lynda

Ana Virginia Kesselring,

I have been reading your articles for about a month and I was really impressed. You can find those examples everywhere and who knows if one is a real genius,experienced or might just be there at the right time. I am going to start reading your book, Outliers. I think I will have a lot of fun ! Nice to meet you, Malcolm

Alice

Dear Malcolm,
I was so pleased to have attended your seminar in Hong Kong. You have made me more attentive to the little ripples beneath the surface.. As I said when you signed my book, you(in the form of Tipping Point) have lived in my briefcase for some time. And I smile whenever I see Ivory soap now, and think of the Ivory soap hotline.

Ana P. Wilson

Malcolm,

I have now read all your books and articles. Your insights into the human condition are simply undoubtely fabulous. I specially enjoyed reading The Tipping Point and Outliers.

Gulbenx

Malcolm,

I dearly enjoyed the article, which was both a soothing balm to the nagging voice in my head that 26 was too young to give yourself to the corporate world. This inspires me to set aside time, practice what I love, and see if the fruits of decades of labor will bear something significant. Thank you.

http://www.Gulben-Ergen.Net

Robert Walsh, Architect

Perhaps when you have a chance you might look at how thoroughly the late bloomers phenomena applies to master architects? One reason that Frank Lloyd Wright became so famous that he lived and continued to practice into his 90's after becoming famous in his 50's. The biographies of many famous architects, including Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind, suggest that for architects the late bloomer may be the norm.

Recently some of my architect friends were discussing an odd book that had come out called "40 Architects under 40." We found it odd because 40 is still generally too early to tell if an architect will be any good, and usually their best work happens much later. I suggested that this made about as much sense as a book on teenage brain surgeons, and they all laughed in agreement.

Thanks again for another marvelous piece that makes us think and gives a fresh take on human creativity. I am glad that you are not waiting to bloom!

Shyam

Nobel Laureate Julius Axelrod an inspiration to late bloomers. Will it help if they are identified early

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1970/axelrod-bio.html

franca Koxvold

Hello! I am reading the book Outliers: I think you make a mistake of omission in discounting individual personality traits as well as cultural differences. In the case of Mauricio Klotz...I have tried in vain to discover his birthday but I am willing to bet (a small amount) that he was a Pisces.

Daniel Cohn

A great news item that validates the Rule of the 150:

The government of the Indian capital, Delhi, has been paying salaries to 22,853 civic workers who do not exist.

Salaries for the missing Municipal Corporation of Delhi workers add up to nearly $43m a year, City Mayor Kanwar Sain said in a statement.

The "gap" was discovered after the authorities introduced a biometric system of recording attendance.

Correspondents say it shows some civic officials created a list of "ghost workers" to siphon off state funds.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) employs more than 100,000 cleaners, gardeners, teachers and other workers.

'Gap'

City officials became aware there were thousands of "ghost workers" after introducing the biometric system in August last year.

Mr Sain said the civic agency has 104,241 "genuine" employees - while the records show the numbers at 127,094.

A press release issued by Mayor Sain's office said: "There is a gap of 22,853 employees in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi between the data given by drawing and disbursing officers, the head of the department and the number of employees enrolled for biometric attendance."

An "in-depth vigilance inquiry will be conducted into the matter to ascertain the facts," he said.

"Strict disciplinary action will be taken against officials who cooked the books," the mayor said.

It was long suspected that the city was being defrauded by "ghost workers", but the authorities had always denied the charge.

Anyoneshall

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Fabiana & Melanie

Dear Mr. Malcom:
We are two girls from Caracas, Venezuela that just had the opportunity to read your fantastic book “Outliers” for our english class at college.
We agreed that although we where convinced with your theories about why some people succeed or not, we also think that lucky circumstances must be taking into consideration.
One of the theories that caught our attention the most was the one of the 10,000 hour rule. It did such an impact on the class, that our teacher gave us the assignment of searching and investigate if someone we admired had indeed his or her 10,000 hours accumulated. Surprisingly, many famous artists that we love hadn’t this 10,000 hours, but still, they are great in whatever the do. So that was the first thing that made us doubt, but then, as we continued reading your book, chapters like “The trouble with geniuses, part 2” made us think that those differences between rich and poor people really are true, and most of all are very palpable in most of societies. In the same way we feel that chapter number five “The three lessons of Joe Flom” is really impressive as well, making us realize that indeed success really depends in most ways of your cultural heritage and the city or country that you live in, and of course in what time you do. But we think that the work or job that you have or do it’s not really important at the time of being successful, because you can be successful at any kind of job, medicine, laws, journalism, etc.
Concluding, we can say that although we don’t agree in every theory that you exposed, we do support you and we are looking forward of reading other book of yours.
Thanks for the attention,
Fabiana and Melanie.

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  • I'm a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of four books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference", "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and "Outliers: The Story of Success." My latest book, "What the Dog Saw" is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker. I was born in England, and raised in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Now I live in New York City.

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