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Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement

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We live in a society where kids and parents are obsessed with early achievement, from getting perfect scores on SATs to getting into Ivy League colleges to landing an amazing job at Google or Facebook—or even better, creating a start-up with the potential to be the next Google, Facebook or Uber. We see coders and entrepreneurs become millionaires or billionaires before age thirty, and feel we are failing if we are not one of them.

Late bloomers, on the other hand, are under-valued—in popular culture, by educators and employers, and even unwittingly by parents. Yet the fact is, a lot of us—most of us—do not explode out of the gates in life. We have to discover our passions and talents and gifts. That was true for author Rich Karlgaard, who had a mediocre academic career at Stanford (which he got into by a fluke) and, after graduating, worked as a dishwasher and nightwatchman before finding the inner motivation and drive that ultimately led him to start up a high-tech magazine in Silicon Valley, and eventually to become the publisher of Forbes magazine.

Authors Thesis

  • A society that excessively focuses on early achievement colors perceptions about individuals’ potential for later success in a way that disregards far more people than it rewards. Rich assumed that potential late bloomers—that is, the majority of us sorted by society’s efficient early bloomer conveyor belt into “less than” bins—just needed to jump back onto the same conveyor belt with new skills, new habits, and new techniques.

Here are my favourite take aways from reading Late Bloomers by Rich Karlgaard: