How Many Left

9861 Hours Left

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Problem With 20 Under 20

Put in about five hours since my last post, which was probably not the most uplifting thing many of you have read. Just finished a little bit over an hour session, breaking through the 65k word count on the novel. It should be done by the end of August, which is all hunky dory, and I'm sure the five readers of this site will love to buy a copy.

Let's move on though, to something I think is antithetical to the 10,000 'rule'. This 20 under 20 thing that was started recently. The basis of the entire thing is: drop out of college and compete for $100,000 to begin a start up company. Oh yeah, you gotta be under 20 years old too. First, I want to say that I have a huge man-crush on Peter Thiel. He is an innovator, libertarian, and probably a genius. More important, he puts his money where his mouth is. He doesn't just sit around talking about the college bubble; he does something about it. All of that is to be admired and emulated. Especially the libertarian part (hint hint). 

This scholarship though, or fellowship, is a radical step to help fix this economy, but I'm not sure it's the right one. I'm not doubting that these twenty year olds are bright and far more mature than the rest of their peers. They probably have ideas that beat all the ideas me and my friends will ever have, combined. That's not saying much, given that the major decisions my friends make are whether to smoke pot on the couch or in the garage. Still, what I'm doing a poor job of saying is: I think these kids definitely have a lot going for them.

Even with that, what Thiel is doing violates the ten thousand hour 'rule'. These kids aren't experts in what they're doing; some might be, or might be close, but the vast majority just haven't had the time to put in the necessary hours to be masters at their craft. That's probably not what Thiel is aiming for, but the people that change the world--the ones that vault to the head of their class have all put the necessary time in. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Michael Jordan. Stephen King. Tiger Woods. Murray Rothbard, and goddamn it, even Paul Krugamn. Years and years dedicated to reading those before them and evolving their ideas. These kids--smart, gifted, talented--are still just kids. Inexperienced and lacking the skills and knowledge to change the world at this point. His two year fellowship simply isn't long enough for the impact to be there. Even if the kids could work 12 hour days, every day of every week, at the intensity it takes to commit 'deliberate practice'--it would still take them over two years (2.28) to be considered masters. I applaud Thiel for what he's doing, for trying to get people out of the fucking mindset of college as the end all, be all in education and progress. But if he's going to do it, he's got to make the commitment to get the kids the hours they need--to make them masters at whatever business or field they're in.

The 20 under 20 is a great idea, but I don't think it's being executed properly. I know that takes balls as big as melons to even say to someone like Peter Thiel, but if he's wanting to make the impact that he claims to--why not add another two years to the fellowship? Why not make sure when these kids leave your tutelage, they're ready to be the leaders in their field? To take on the world and all other comers? In short, with the power you have, why not make them masters?

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