Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why you should know about the 10,000 Hour Rule

In my Entrepreneurial Journalism class, we're starting our case studies of media entrepreneurs and reading a chapter from Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, about The 10,000 Hour Rule.  I like to assign this reading because Gladwell is an interesting writer, he's had the kind of career most journalism students dream of, and you always take away something you can use in your own work.

The gist of Gladwell's observation is that, to get really, really, really good at something you need to spend about 10,000 hours practicing the craft. Just doing it. Over and over and over. It's an interesting chapter, and I'm not going to give away the details, just go find the book.

Here are a few student comments about the reading from the course discussion blog:

I thought this chapter was useful because it made a clear case for the idiom, practice makes perfect. The author gives concrete examples of how some of the most successful and influential people have had to work to get where they are today. He shows us that innate talent can only take you so far. The author demonstrates that the only way to achieve great success is through a combination of situational luck and extremely hard work. No one is born a master.
1. First and foremost, this reading applies to entrepreneurship because it proves beyond a doubt that hard work is the key to success. If you want to be the next big thing, or start a viable new company, work is the only way to achieve this. You might have the best idea in the world, but if you are complacent, and don't work to better yourself, it will never take you anywhere.
2. Another important idea to take away from this reading is that every one has to start somewhere. The Beatles, arguably the most famous group of its generation, began their career playing at strip clubs in Germany. What a far call from glory that is. However, the author shows that this experience is what ultimately transformed them into the band we all know and love. To entrepreneurs, this means that we may have to start working below our expectations in order to develop the skills needed to make it in the big time. We can't get discouraged that things aren't going our way because if handled correctly, every opportunity will prepare us for the future.
3. The last important idea to take away from the reading is that situational luck is almost as important as hard work in achieving success. Bill Joy and Bill Gates are both examples of this. If they had not been given the opportunity to work with the most advanced computers at the time they did, than someone else would have founded Microsoft, and someone else would have developed the code for the internet. This is important for us to keep in mind because we are at a similar turning point. Old fashioned Journalism is on the way out, and a viable replacement has not yet been adopted. We have grown up in the age of information, computers are out second nature. What is stopping us from developing the future of Journalism? After all, we are young, determined students at our state's flagship university. We should be taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the university while we can.
I thought this was a fantastic reading. Both really interesting and informative in that super smart but accessible way Malcolm Gladwell writes. The point of this reading was to get across the idea that while talent is innate, it's mastered at the precise amount of 10,000 hours of practice and no less. He gives several examples, including a few famous computer technicians, The Beatles, and more to show how, with practice, talent became expertise.This definitely applies to entrepreneurship in the following ways:1. An entrepreneur has to be incredibly well-versed in their own ideas. They have to live and breathe them in order for them to be sold. While an entrepreneur might not spend 10,000 hours on one idea, the more time spent on one can probably lead to the creation of countless others. The more ideas you have, the more refined each following one is bound to be.2. Public speaking is a really good area to get 10,000 hours of practice. An entrepreneur constantly has audiences to confront, and he or she has to be confident enough with a large group of people to sell a product or idea. Imagine what kind of experience 10,000 hours of public speaking could lead to. I'm sure Tony Robbins knows.3. 10,000 hours could be incredibly useful in the form of leadership. If a person has a super storied history of leading clubs, starting organizations, whatever gives them a prominent position at the forefront of a group, they're sure to be a better businessperson because of it. After ten years of being the head of various failures and successes, running a business would probably just become secondhand knowledge. 

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