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July 18, 2012


A Lloyd

I've always found the "we only hire the best of the best of the best" sorts of comments to be both a terrible filter and a remarkable falsework of self-justification.

On the applicant-end, there are folks who are talented but either insecure ("oh, I don't know if I meet their standards") or unwilling to let themselves be judged ("I'm great, but these guys don't get the privilege of telling me I'm not"). On the company end, this is shades of Justice Hugo Black who said of the Supreme Court ("we're not the final authority because we're infallible, we're infallible because we're the final authority"). So they go around congratulating themselves that they have hired the best of the best ("look, it says so right here on the website!"). I've worked for law firms that were explicitly "we hire the best of the best" and I've worked for a law firm that was founded by Quakers who had a pretty robust "no asshole" policy. I was infinitely prouder of my work for the no asshole policy than of the work I did where I was deemed best of the best (See, says so there on the label).


You need 10k hours to be good at something someone else is already good at. Otherwise, you just need to be sorta good at something different to be the best at it.

The harder part is figuring out what is different.


Dave Mark

The 10,000 hours rule discussed in Outliers was about becoming an expert in something. This was not limited to Gates, et al, as you suggest. In the book, it was applied to diverse things such as being an "expert" violinist, athlete (in your chosen skill), and yes, programmer. Certainly "competence" -- however you define that -- comes significantly earlier than the alleged 10k hours.

I think it isn't a stretch to say that doing something 40 hours a week for 5 years would put you into the neighborhood of "expert". In fact, when we look at peoples' resumes, we use similar criteria simply by looking at how many years they have been doing a particular job/skill.

Of course, your original premise is correct that there are some things that are more in-born, if you will, and others that can be developed. Ironically, being able to "learn on the fly" is often considered a trait in and of itself. Therefore, you may have someone who, for their entire life, has been able to learn, adapt, improve, and excel at many things that are put in front of them. It is THAT trait that is valuable in constantly changing industries such as the game business -- or any other one where there isn't a fixed skill set that is all you will ever need.


Excellent blog.Understanding mindsets is curacil as it allows you to understand why people do things and the decisons they make, yet most of the times, people mindsets work below the surface and isn't mentioned, yet it is the driving force of everything they do.The more people talk about growth mindsets and make it more acceptable and to the fore, the more leeway this concept will gain and all will benefit who use it.

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game