Bill Gates on Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule

Malcoln Gladwell It’s a tempting proposal: if you practice anything for 10,000 hours, then you will become world class. In 1993, scientist Anders Ericsson learned of a group of psychologists in Berlin who were researching violin players found that, by age 20, the leading performers had averaged in excess of 10,000 hours of practice each. Less able performers, in the meantime, clocked up just 4,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion further in his book Outliers: The Story of Success.

In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, “this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.

Gladwell applied the concept to Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and the Beatles, who sharpened their musical know-how in performance at Hamburg’s strip clubs. Gladwell says:

The Beatles ended up travelling to Hamburg five times between 1960 and the end of 1962. On the first trip, they played 106 nights, of five or more hours a night. Their second trip they played 92 times. Their third trip they played 48 times, for a total of 172 hours on stage. The last two Hamburg stints, in November and December 1962, involved another 90 hours of performing. All told, they performed for 270 nights in just over a year and a half. By the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, they had performed live an estimated 1,200 times, which is extraordinary. Most bands today don’t perform 1,200 times in their entire careers. The Hamburg crucible is what set the Beatles apart.

'Outliers' by Malcoln Gladwell (ISBN 0316017922) Coined by Florida State psychologist Anders Ericsson and made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, the 10,000 hour rule reflects the belief that becoming a superlative athlete or performer rests on a long period of hard work rather than “innate ability” or talent. As stated by Malcolm Gladwell’s famous 10,000-hour rule, genuine success only comes to people who are willing to put in a great many hours to become first-class at something they value. Whether it involves learning a new piece of equipment, a new language, or developing a craft, being able to cope with setbacks and stay focused on goals regardless of how far-flung they seem. And so the importance of resolve and steadiness in success.

Bill Gates did not only have an propensity for creating software, he also had just about exceptional access as a schoolboy to a mainframe computer that the parents’ association of his local school invested in, in 1968. He got to it in eighth grade before just about anyone else in the world. Correspondingly the Beatles’ genius for melody did not come ready made. They developed it while singing in Hamburg in the early Sixties, at all-night strip clubs. In those years they dedicated more time to pop music than any of their peers. The same could be said for Mozart, or Tiger Woods. They had capability, sure enough, but they also had extraordinary family circumstances that allowed them a reasonable advantage at a very early age. They put the hours in first.

Extraordinary success depends on talent, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time, among other things. In Outliers, Gladwell contends that, to truly master any skill, leaning on various pieces of research, requires about 10,000 concentrated hours. If you can get those hours in early, and be in a position to exploit them, then you are an outlier.

When asked, “What do you think of Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that the years 1953 to 1955 were the perfect ones in which to be born for the computer revolution?” by his father William H. Gates Sr., Bill Gates reponds:

His book makes a lot of great points … that is that in all success stories there are significant elements of luck and tiny … I wasn’t the only kid born between 1953 and 1955, but absolutely to be young and open-minded at a time when the microprocessor was invented … in my case have a friend Paul Allen who was more open-minded about hardware type things and literally brought me the obscure article to talk about that first microprocessor and said you know this is going to improve exponentially … what does that mean and I said well at that means it we can do anything we want and then he was … you know … bugging me the rest of the time every time there’d be a new microprocessor he said can we do something yet and when we were in high school that can happen … so he came back to possible good job there and actually the microprocessor that was finally good enough came out in early 1975 and that’s why I i dropped out … so the timing was pretty important you know why didn’t older people see it … they weren’t this open open minded … they didn’t think about software is the key ingredient … now a lot of kids started doing software and … it’s not if somebody reads the book to say that if you spend 10,000 hours doing something you’ll be super good at it I don’t think that’quite as simple as that what you do is you do about 50 hours and ninety percent drop out because they don’t like it or they’re not good … you do another 50 hours and ninety percent drop out … so there’s these constant cycles and you do have to be lucky enough but also fanatical enough to keep going and so the person makes it to 10,000 hours is not just somebody has done it for 10,000 hours there’s somebody who chosen and been chosen in many different times and so all these magical things came together including who I know and that time … and i think you know that’s very important … when you look at somebody who’s good and say could I do it like them … they’ve gone through so many cycles that it may fool you that you know yes yes you could with the with the right luck, imagination, and and some some talent.

Bill Gates responds to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill. Apart from acknowledging luck, timing and an open mind, Gates suggests that a successful person survives many cycles of attrition to make it to 10,000 hours of experience. “You do have to be lucky enough, but also fanatical enough to keep going,” explains Gates.

Unfortunately, a Princeton study, which analyzed 88 studies, established that practice accounted for just a 12% variation in performance.

Warren Buffett, the Mattress Salesman at Nebraska Furniture Mart

One of the traditions at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings is an hour-long light-hearted movie show. In fact, the “movie” is a collection of video clips some of which showcase commerials and skits from Berkshire Hathaway’s vast array of businesses, some featuring Buffett-comedy, surprise celebrity features, and so on, often to wild laughter among the crowd.

'Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything' by Warren Buffett with Carol Loomis (ISBN 1591845734) In 2013, the Berkshire Hathaway video started with a cartoon version of Dancing with the Stars with Warren Buffett and partner Charlie Munger as judges. After the judges dismissed every contestant, including Dairy Queen and the Geico Gecko, the judges themselves won the contest by dancing to the Gangnam Style. The 2013 movie also had clips of Warren Buffett and Fortune Magazine’s Carol Loomis appearing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote “Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything”. A humorous debate over “ketchup” vs. “catsup” from the sitcom King of Queens highlighted Berkshire Hathaway’s buyout of H.J. Heinz Company (in partnership with Brazil’s 3G Capital.)

In recent years, the “movie” has also featured Warren Buffett’s opening statement to a Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on the Salomon Saga. “Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless,” warns Mr. Buffett at the end of that opening statement.

The security staff at the Berkshire Hathaway meetings forbid attendees from recording audio or video from the opening movie due to confidentiality and copyright restrictions. At the beginning of the movie, a voice-over or video recording from Warren Buffett assures appearances from “a number of people you recognize” and reminds that the celebrities work for free, at the request of the notoriously stingy Buffett. “Surprise, surprise.”

Over the years, the most popular clips in the movie feature a hilarious Warren Buffett attempting at diverse jobs in Berkshire’s businesses. Here’s one from Berkshire’s furniture business, Nebraska Furniture Mart.

Guy Kawasaki’s “Shopping Center Test” for Recruiting

Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley investor, business advisor, and author

Recruiting is the hardest part of a manager’s job. Many managers do not hire people who are better than they themselves are. It might be subconscious—managers do not want to be disgraced by one of their direct reports—or perhaps managers do not know how to identify talent.

How is a manager or recruiter to know in his/her gut that a particular candidate is an excellent person for a role, after an interview? Silicon Valley investor, business advisor, and author of twelve excellent books on business and entrepreneurship, Guy Kawasaki proposes the “Shopping Center Test.”

As the last step in the recruiting process, apply the Shopping Center Test.

It works like this: Suppose you’re at a shopping center, and you see the candidate. He is fifty feet away and has not seen you. You have three choices:

  1. beeline it over to him and say hello;
  2. say to yourself, “This shopping center isn’t that big; if I bump into him, then I’ll say hello, if not, that’s okay too;”
  3. get in your car and go to another shopping center.

My contention is that unless the candidate elicits the first response, you shouldn’t hire him.

For more on entrepreneurship, see ‘The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything’ by Guy Kawasaki. Also see this YouTube video of Guy talking about recruiting.

List of Books Authored by Guy Kawasaki

Warren Buffett’s Opening Statement at Salomon Brothers Testimony

In 1991, Wall Street investment bank Salomon Brothers was embroiled in a bond-rigging scandal. U.S. Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Mike Basham ascertained that, between December 1990 and May 1991, Salomon Brothers’ trader Paul Mozer had dishonestly been submitting false bids to purchase more Treasury bonds than a limit imposed per buyer. Salomon was fined $290 million for this breach of rules.

Warren Buffett was the largest investor in Salomon Brothers during the days of this Salomon scandal. Warren Buffett took the helm as chairman and chief executive of the embattled company for an annual salary of $1.

Here is Warren Buffett’s opening statement before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance of the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives:

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to appear before this subcommittee. I would like to start by apologizing for the acts that have brought us here. The nation has a right to expect its rules and laws to be obeyed. And at Salomon, certain of these were broken. Almost all of Salomon’s 8,000 employees regret this as deeply as I do. And I apologize on their behalf as well as mine.

My job is to deal with both the past and the future. The past actions of Salomon are presently causing our 8,000 employees and their families to bear a stain. Virtually all of these employees are hardworking, able and honest. I want to find out exactly what happened in the past so that this stain is borne by the guilty few and removed from the innocent. To help do this, I promise to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the American people, Salomon’s wholehearted cooperation with all authorities. These authorities have the power of subpoena, the ability to immunize witnesses, and the power to prosecute for perjury. Our internal investigation has not had these tools. We welcome their use.

As to the future, the submission to this subcommittee details actions that I believe will make Salomon the leader within the financial services industry in controls and compliance procedures. But in the end, the spirit about compliance is as important or more so than words about compliance. I want the right words and I want the full range of internal controls. But I also have asked every Salomon employee to be his or her own compliance officer. After they first obey all rules, I then want employees to ask themselves whether they are willing to have any contemplated act appear the next day on the front page of their local paper, to be read by their spouses, children, and friends, with the reporting done by an informed and critical reporter. If they follow this test, they need not fear my other message to them: Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.

'Liar's Poker' by Michael Lewis (ISBN 039333869X) Recommended Reading: Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis, an autobiographical account of Michael Lewis’s own experience as a bond salesman at Salomon Brothers where the Liar’s Poker is a figure of speech for the Salomon culture of intense risk-taking with immediate payoffs.

New York Landmark Katz’s Delicatessen turns 125

Katz's Delicatessen, Kosher-style Delicatessen

A short time ago, we visited New York City landmark Jewish deli Katz’s Delicatessen and devoured its signature dish, the pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard, along with hot dogs, sauerkraut, dark green barrel pickles, and Dr. Brown Cherry sodas.

Pastrami Sandwich on Rye with Mustard at Katz's Delicatessen

Katz’s Delicatessen Turns 125

This kosher-style delicatessen recently turned 125! Katz’s Delicatessen has been serving from its location on the southwest corner of Houston and Ludlow streets in the Lower East Side of Manhattan since 1888. Katz’s address is 205 E. Houston St. (Ludlow St.) Manhattan, NY 10002. Locals and tourists often regard Katz’s Delicatessen’s corned beef, pastrami sandwiches, and hot dogs among New York’s best.

History of Katz's Delicatessen, New York City landmark Jewish deli

Katz’s Delicatessen commenced serving customers in 1888 originally as “Iceland Brothers.” In 1903, the Katz family joined partnered with the founders and changed the name to “Iceland & Katz.” By 1910, the Katz family fully owned delicatessen and changed its name to “Katz’s.”

Jake Dell of the Dell family that purchased this Lower East Side landmark in 1998 recently claimed, “Over the course of the week, we can go through about 8,000 pounds of corned beef, maybe 15,000 pounds of pastrami, and 4,000 hot dogs.”

“When Harry Met Sally” at Katz’s Delicatessen

Scene from When Harry Met Sally was made in Katz's Delicatessen

One of the most memorable scenes of the 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally” was made in Katz’s Delicatessen. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal filmed their fake orgasm scene on a table marked with a sign that is now labeled, “Where Harry met Sally… hope you have what she had!” This phrase refers to a famous line rendered in the movie by a woman on an adjacent table who observes the character played by Meg Ryan and comments, “I’ll have what she’s having!” Often, patrons of Katz’s re-enact the scene at the table to the amusement of patrons and attendants alike.

Title Song Lyrics from the TV Series Mahabharat (Hindu Epic)

Title Song from Mahabharat (TV series)

The TV Series Mahabharat was a fixture on Sunday Morning televisions across India when it first broadcast on the state-owned television channel Doordarshan from 02-Oct-1988 through 24-Jun-1990. The 94-episode series was produced by acclaimed Hollywood producer B. R. Chopra and directed by his son Ravi Chopra. Rahi Masoom Raza (a person of the Islamic faith) composed the script and songs. The music director was Rajkamal and most of the songs were sung by veteran playback singer Mahendra Kapoor.

Title Song, Part 1

Atha shri Mahabharat katha
Mahabharat katha
Katha hai purusharth yeh ki
Swarth ki parmarth ki

Translation / meaning: “This is the story of Mahabharat. It’s a tale of honour, greed, the ultimate truth.”

Title Song, Part 2

Sarthi jis ke bane
ShriKrishna Bharat Parth ki

Translation / meaning: “This is the story of Lord Krishna who had become a charioteer (in the Kurukshetra battle) for Arjuna who is descendant of Bharat.”

Title Song, Part 3

Shabdh Dighoshit Hua Jab
Satya Sarthak Sarvatha..

Translation / meaning: “When the great words (Bhagavad Gita) were proclaimed, they showed the path (of righteousness) … the words signified truth that was fit and entire.”

Verse from the Bhagavad Gita (Gita 4-7)

Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
Abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham

Translation / meaning: “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in righteousness, O Bharata, And a predominant rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself”

Verse from the Bhagavad Gita (Gita 4-8)

Paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskritam
Dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge

Translation / meaning: “To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, To re-establish the principles of religion, I manifest myself era after era …”

Bertrand Russell Critique of Christianity and Religion

British philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell argued very persuasively through his writings and speeches that religion was merely a fallacy and, notwithstanding any positive effects that religion might have on a person’s emotional or psychological well-being, the concept of religion is for the most part detrimental to people. Bertrand Russell resolutely believed that religion and a religious point of view serve to hinder knowledge and cultivate a fear of anxiety, fear, and dependency.

Bertrand Russell, like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and other critics of religion who came after him, held that religion was to blame for war, coercion, tyranny, and misery that have weighed down the world. Here is an excerpt from his essay, “Why I Am Not A Christian”, first a lecture delivered by Russell on 06-Mar-1927 at the Battersea Town Hall (now the Battersea Arts Centre in London) to a gathering of the National Secular Society, South London Branch.

Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes … . A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.

Bertrand Russell on Belief and the Value of Religion

TV Interviewer: Why are you not a Christian?
Bertrand Russell: Because I see no evidence whatever in any of the Christian dogmas. I have examined all the stock arguments in favor of the existence of God and none of them seem to me to be logically valid.

TV Interviewer: Do you think there is a practical reason for having a religious belief for many people?
Bertrand Russell: There can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true. I rule it out. It is impossible. Either a thing is true or it isn’t. If it is true, you should believe in it. If it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it is true or it isn’t, you should suspend judgment. It seems to me fundamental dishonesty and fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it is useful and not because you think it is true.

TV Interviewer: I was thinking of those people who find that some kind of religious code helps them to live their lives — it gives them a very strict set of rules — the right and the wrongs.
Bertrand Russell: People are generally quite mistaken. Great many of them do more harm than good and they would probably be able to find rational morality that they could live by if they drop this irrational traditional taboo morality that comes down from savage ages.

TV Interviewer: But are we, perhaps, the ordinary person, perhaps, is not strong enough to find his own personal ethic. They have to have something imposed upon them from outside.
Bertrand Russell: I don’t think that is true. What is imposed on you from outside is of no value whatever. Doesn’t count.

TV Interviewer: You were brought up, of course, as a Christian. When did you first decide that you did not want to remain a believer in the Christian faith?
Bertrand Russell: I never decided that I did not want to remain a believer. Between the ages of 15 and 18, I spent almost all my spare time thinking about Christian dogmas and trying to find out whether there was any reason to believe them. By the time I was 18 I had discarded the last of them.

TV Interviewer: Do you think that that gave you an extra strength in your life?
Bertrand Russell: No, I don’t know. No I shouldn’t have said so. Neither it’s a strength nor the opposite. I was just engaged in the pursuit of knowledge.

TV Interviewer: As you approach the end of life, do you have any fear of some kind of afterlife?
Bertrand Russell: No, that is nonsense.

TV Interviewer: There is no afterlife?
Bertrand Russell: None whatsoever.

TV Interviewer: Do you have any fear of something that is common among atheists and agnostics who have been atheists or agnostics all entire lives, who are converted just before they die to a form of religion.
Bertrand Russell: Well, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as religious people think it does. Because, religious people, most of them, think that it is a virtuous act to tell lies of the deathbeds of agnostics and such. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t happen very often.

Bertrand Russell’s Books on Religion, God, and Atheism