Outliers’ KFS … the 10,000 hours rule

This is one of several posts extracting some key points from the book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, Little Brown, 2008

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Gladwell’s Observation

Mastery of a complex skill doesn’t come easy orfast.  Given an adequate amount of talent, the magic number is 10,000 hours.  That’s how long it takes the brain to assimilate the necessary knowledge and habitualize a complex set of relevant tasks.

Examples cited: Bill Gates and his mastery of PC software; elite classical musicians; the Beatles (before becoming overnight sensations).

Note: a typical work year is 2,000 hours (8 hours per day times 5 days times 50 weeks) … So, it takes 5 years of dedicated full-time effort to become success proficient.

* * * * *

Ken’s Question: Tell me again how much relevant experience Obama had before becoming President ?

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3 Responses to “Outliers’ KFS … the 10,000 hours rule”

  1. Mark Davenport Says:

    Perhaps the more relevant question is “experience at what?” What are the relevant experiences Gladwell would point to as preparing someone for the job of being president? Since no president has ever had experience at being president prior to taking office, it has to be something else.

    George W. Bush had years of experience as a CEO and governor prior to his eight year display of presidential ineptitude, so direct executive experience by itself is perhaps not sufficient or even necessary, given other compensating experiences.

  2. CFC Says:

    What Mark said.

  3. Laj Says:

    I’ve never been a fan of Gladwell – good writing style, but very little substance, IMO. He writes the kind of stuff that only sells because it’s politically correct, not because it is really consistent. It’s almost like when he is close to writing the truth, he realizes that it won’t sell him books, so he finds some cool way to wimp out and sell those heartwarming messages of peace, love and hair grease.

    I mean, how much does he go on and on about Bill Gates without delving into two important facts about Gates: (1) that Gates was a certified genius and (2) Gates’s father was an anti-trust lawyer?

    In fact, in many ways, I think the second point is probably the least cited fact about Bill Gates that I hear in public discourse and I wonder why its importance in the context of Gates’s success is never mentioned.

    If anyone can develop a serious empirical approach to an issue based on a novel Gladwell insight (as opposed to one research insight that he took and bastardized to make it worse than the original idea), I’ll pay the person for every insight mentioned (I reserve the right to point out the true source of the insight and why it was bastardized).

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