Saturday, August 09, 2008

Professional Stereotypes and High Performers

In response to Paul Graham's essay A Fund Raising Survival Guide, Gordon Mohr has posted a fascinating insight in the comments:
The very last sentence of the last footnote caught my eye:

Oddly enough, the best VCs tend to be the least VC-like.

I suspect that rather than being odd this is nearly tautological for any profession -- "the best X tend to be the least X-like". Professional stereotypes are set by the multitudes in the middle, not the highest-performing outliers.

Further, atypical behavior can be both a cause and effect of excellence. Being 'different' helps them be 'better', but also by being 'better' they gain freedom and confidence to deviate from norms.

(Of course, "the worst X tend to be not very X-like" is also true. But they're more likely to at least try to emulate the average X.)

- (via Hacker News)

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