Skip to content

Why you shouldn’t go to Harvard

That’s the title of a video about a talk Malcolm Gladwell gave at Google and it explains an important theory – relative deprivation theory.

It’s fascinating and important to know – and he summarizes it quite well in this 9-minute video. “We don’t form our self-assessments based on our standing in the world, we form our self-assessments based on our immediate circle.”

Invest a few minutes to understand this theory because it’s really powerful.

This all goes back to the idea that happiness is relative. If you are around people who have more wealth, show it off more, then you will feel poorer. If you are around poverty but you have enough, you will feel wealthier. As the outdated saying goes, happiness is making $1 more than your brother in law.

But what Gladwell is saying is that it goes beyond happiness and taps into motivation. You can learn how to use these engines of motivation to create environments where you are more likely to thrive. The University of Maryland may not be as exclusive as Harvard but you’d rather be a UMD graduate than a Harvard drop out. It’s also much cheaper. 🙂

The Self-Made Man [Slate] – “I’ve always admired what my father accomplished, and how he accomplished it, while not quite sharing his confidence that his experience was repeatable, especially in our current economic moment. The yawning gap between the dearly held ideal of the self-made man and the difficulty of actually improving your station in America, particularly if you’re poor, made me wonder about the utility of the rags-to-riches story. Is it a healthy myth that inspires us to aim high? Or is it more like a mass delusion keeping us from confronting the fact that poor Americans tend to remain poor Americans, regardless of how hard they work?”

The Meltdown at the Museum of Ice Cream [Forbes] – “Maryellis Bunn, 28, built a business that promised customers happiness, sprinkles and ice cream. The playground-meets-art installation was an instant hit with the Instagram generation. But ex-employees say that a darker reality lives under the gauzy filters.”

Brain Gain: A Person Can Instantly Blossom into a Savant–and No One Knows Why [Scientific American] – “Some people suddenly become accomplished artists or musicians with no previous interest or training. Is it possible innate genius lies dormant within everyone?”

Have a good weekend!