On today’s episode, I spent time with Rich Karlgaard. Rich Karlgaard, author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement, is the publisher of Forbes magazine and is based in Silicon Valley. He is a lecturer, pilot, and the author of four acclaimed previous books. A self-proclaimed late bloomer, he had a mediocre academic career at Stanford (which he got into by a fluke), and after graduating, worked as a dishwasher, night watchman, and typing temp before finally finding the inner motivation and drive that ultimately led him to his current career trajectory.
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After a mediocre academic career at Stanford (which he got into on a fluke), Rich couldn’t hold a job beyond dishwasher, night watchman, and typing temp throughout the majority of his twenties. It wasn’t until his late twenties that his brain “woke up” and he finally found the inner motivation and drive that set him on his current career trajectory. Now, he’s an award-winning entrepreneur-turned-publisher, columnist, author, television commentator, private investor and board director and he’s on a mission to show why we and our employers need to redefine our expectations for the timeline for achievement. In Late Bloomers, which has already received early praise from Adam Grant, Arianna Huffington, and Dan Pink, Rich argues that our society’s growing obsession with wunderkinds has led many of us to buy into a distorted and vastly limiting narrative that if we’re not prodigies, we’ve failed. And yet, a growing body of research in psychology and neuroscience shows that many of us just aren’t wired for such early success: the executive function of our brains, which enables us to see ahead and plan effectively, doesn’t mature until age 25 or later, and different types of our intelligence peak at different stages of our lives, with creative insight improving into middle age.
Specifics that we covered on the show include:
- Why is it important for Rich to write the book Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement? (02:34)
- The role of the media in forcing people to achieve early in life (06:42)
- How important is it for young people or late bloomers to be patient? (10:06)
- How does one navigate to maturity? (14:07)
- Traits that late bloomers have that younger people don’t have (22:05)
- The perception of productivity between young people and late bloomers (27:51)
- The role of social media for the young people and the late bloomers (30:36)
- What can be done with the educational system to fix the false sense of what it can bring (33:25)
“The pressure that we are putting on kids to achieve spectacularly and early so they can get into elite colleges so that they can get first jobs at Google or Goldman Sachs is unwarranted because it rewards kids who are really good at taking tests. It rewards those with determined focus and not all kids are built like that. And you see rising raise of anxiety, depression and we even had an epidemic of suicide.” ~ Rich Karlgaard
- Book: Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement
The key takeaway from this episode is echoes the popular fable The tortoise and The Hare – with the hare being admired more than the tortoise. The idea of slow and steady winning the race still has real power in a world that praises speed and hustle above all else.
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