Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Speaker Review: Rich Karlgaard and Late Bloomers

Rich Karlgaard is a good man. He's the kind of person who gently asks his emcee the time as a way of communicating the book event should have started one minute ago. His wealth of Silicon Valley business contacts provides factoids few others can access. 

At the same time, when you're so close to the C-suite, you can rely on your friends for interesting tidbits, which can result in schizophrenic mini-stories rather than in-depth work. As I get older, I want more depth and less surface-area involvement, even if the surface being examined is shiny and rich. 
When asked which cities he'd prefer to bloom into if he were 40 again, Karlgaard mentioned Silicon Valley (California); Austin, Texas; and Columbus, Ohio. He did not mention a single place outside North America. 

Another case in point: in the context of Palo Alto's intensely competitive and often miserable secondary schools, Karlgaard mentioned Israel, Singapore, and Sweden's mandatory military drafts as ways of exposing their citizens to more than just rote memorization in traditional schools. While that may or may not be true, a better analyst would include the fact that Israel and Singapore are American's only steadfast allies in their respective regions, making them unofficial NATO members. Such members, whether official or unofficial, are expected to contribute 2% of GDP towards military spending. Military conscription activities count towards the 2% goal, and smart politicians allocate as high a percentage as possible within the 2% to domestic development. In contrast, Sweden only made peacetime conscription mandatory in 2017 because it perceived a growing threat from nearby Russia and wanted to sociologically counter increasingly hostile anti-immigrant forces from within. Also, Singapore, unlike Sweden and Israel, only conscripts men. 

In any case, that's the kind of detailed analysis I like seeing. You won't find it in Karlgaard's book, which I admittedly skimmed. You will find great stories about VMware's founder and J.K. Rowling and lots of other inspirational late bloomers. To each, his or her own. 
Karlgaard getting ready to speak in Campbell, California.

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