Malcolm Gladwell seems to think attending an elite college or working for a famous company could kill your dreams.
I'm generally a huge Gladwell fan but assuming this BI article is an accurate synopsis, his latest book is complete horse shit.
He suggests that its better to be the best among a mediocre/sub-par set vs. be mediocre among the best. One of the examples he gives is that a programmer is better off going to an unknown tech co. vs. Google since he/she will be more likely to be a star at the lesser firm. What kind of hippie bullshit is that? Let's for one second ignore the Gladwell's foregone conclusion that you will be mediocre. I understand he's referring to everyone (who is a representative of the average person, i.e., is mediocre).... but why would your strive for that?
At first glance I thought the key takeaway was going to be that you're better off going to the unknown tech co. because you'll have more confidence etc and will in long run develop a lot more, gain unique skills you won't gain among a sea of Sergey Brins, and eventually surpass the same version of yourself that went the Google route. That would have been somewhat insightful. But from the article, thats not what he's saying.
Since when did motivation stop being about actual achievement and instead change to a warm fuzzy feelings of being special. Everyone shouldn't feel special and exceptional, because everyone is not. That's one of the reason we had the housing crisis. Everyone thinks they're special and they deserve something. Everyone deserve to own a home. No you fucking don't, you can't afford it.
Should aspiring bankers aim foror start at a boutique municipal bond company?
Based on his logic in "David and Goliath," Gladwell's answer would almost definitely be to go small. "Rarely do we stop and consider," he writes, "whether the most prestigious of institutions is always in our best interest." In academia particularly, he says, "The Big Pond takes really bright students and demoralizes them."
If by demoralizes them he means "makes them believe they are not exceptional" then I think that phenomenal is called LIFE.
The older I get the more I see previously exceptional (I use this word loosely in this instance) people falling off and reverting to the mean... and even below it. You see this throughout life. The child prodigy that literally barely made it through a state college. The super smart hot chick in HS who ended up looking mediocre and really doing nothing in life. The whip smart kid in college who ended up becoming a mortgage broker. The kids in your analysts class that all went to the best schools but just didn't measure up against their peers in the professional world. This could go on forever and in every aspect of life.... from school to work to money to women.
I understand its human nature to think you're special. Everyone thinks "I am different than everyone else" and in that respect, they're all the same. We all think we're different, we all think we are exceptional. Its human nature. As you progress through life you find out exactly which part of the bell curve you fall on. That's the real world. Everyone can't be the best and to surround yourself with sub-par people just to feel good about yourself is pathetic.
Gladwell's book is David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.
If you ask me, the art of battling giants is to become one.