Ha, I didn’t realize that Bill Gates, while smart, wasn’t the smartest…
The excerpts below are from Paul Allen’s new memoir Idea Man.
On Bill Gates and Harvard’s notorious Math 55. What professor is Gates talking about below? The professor who currently teaches math 55 is invited to comment — anonymously, of course ;-)
… I offered a word to the wise: “You know, Bill, when you get to Harvard, there are going to be some people a lot better in math than you are.”
“No way,” he said. “There’s no way!”
And I said, “Wait and see.”
I was decent in math, and Bill was brilliant, but by then I spoke from my experience at Washington State. One day I watched a professor cover the blackboard with a maze of partial differential equations, and they might as well have been hieroglyphics from the Second Dynasty. It was one of those moments when you realize, I just can’t see it. I felt a little sad, but I accepted my limitations. I was O.K. with being a generalist.
For Bill it was different. When I saw him again over Christmas break, he seemed subdued. I asked him about his first semester, and he said glumly, “I have a math professor who got his Ph.D. at 16.” The course was purely theoretical, and the homework load ranged up to 30 hours a week. Bill put everything into it and got a B. When it came to higher mathematics, he might have been one in a hundred thousand students or better. But there were people who were one in a million or one in 10 million, and some of them wound up at Harvard. Bill would never be the smartest guy in that room, and I think that hurt his motivation. He eventually switched his major to applied math.
group incentive pay and hourly pay motivate workers more effectively than individual incentive pay. …. swimmers on the first legs of a relay did about as well as they did when swimming in individual events. Swimmers on the later legs outperformed their individual event times. In the heat of a competition, it seems, later swimmers feel indispensible to their team’s success and are more motivated than when swimming just for themselves. ….
To me this is interesting, because it shows people work harder if they believe they are being somewhat altruistic. I always thought everyone was so individualistic, but it turns out that that may not be the case.
Sources connected to Britney’s video tell TMZ … Spears netted a cool $500,000 for various product placements in her “Hold It Against Me” video. We’re told the dating site Plentyoffish.com, one of several companies featured in the vid, forked over “a couple hundred thousand” to feature their site on Brit’s computer during the vid and saw immediate results … a 20% spike in traffic the day after the video premiered. (via Britney Spears Scores Six-Figures Off Music Video | TMZ.com)
Wow, I guess this is the way videos get financed these days.
It isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want.
Jobs says he does no consumer and market research and this is why. Interesting take.
So you’re thinking of starting a company. Here’s your test. Imagine a few years from now that you’re looking back and your company has been beaten by a competitor. Ask yourself - did you have fun doing what you were doing, and solving the problem you were trying to solve. If the answer is yes, then you should start that company. Otherwise, you’re in it for the money, and you’re better off doing something else.
I believe Costco does more for civilization than the Rockefeller Foundation, I think it’s a better place. You get a bunch of very intelligent people sitting around trying to do good, I immediately get kind of suspicious and squirm in my seat. … I’ve seen so much folly and stupidity on the part of our major philanthropic groups, including the World Bank, I really have more confidence in building up the more capitalistic ventures like Costco.
I remember when [Yahoo] hired Semel to be CEO. I knew the goose was finally cooked then. He was a studio guy and Yahoo fully embraced the entertainment company mantra. They even hired a guy named Loyd Braun, who had green lighted Lost at ABC but was fired before it was proved successful. Together, he and Semel were to turn Yahoo into a content company. Shortly after hiring him, there was a glowing article on him in something like Fortune or BusinessWeek and it casually mentioned that he didn’t know how to work his computer and his assistant read his email to him. I nearly blew a gasket. The most important anecdote of the whole article was a throw away sentence buried in the middle. The guy in charge of Yahoo couldn’t work email!!!
Scott Orn via Kenny Kellogg: Paul Graham on Yahoo
From my friend’s awesome blog :)