Malcolm Gladwell Explains Why Human Potential Is Being Squandered [PopTech Video]

Sociologist and best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell, uses the term “Capitalization” to discuss

the abundance and scarcity as it applies to people.” More specifically, Gladwell sees “capitalization” as “the rate at which a given community capitalizes on the human potential… what percentage of those who are capable of achieving something actually achieve it.”

Gladwell’s most recent book, Outliers: The Story of Success, investigates human potential, how it is squandered, how that trend can be reversed, and the reasons why some succeed so much more then others.

Through his research Gladwell discovered that,

Cap rates are really low. They are much lower then you think they are and that’s why I think this is such a worthy topic for investigation.”

Here is a clip with highlights from Gladwell’s talk at Pop Tech on this issue [11 min.]:

3 Conditions Which Constrain The Capitalization Of Human Potential

1. Poverty.

… is the obvious thing that limits the exploitation of human potential.”

2. Stupidity.

… where institutions get in the way of the development of human potential.”

3. Culture.

When we look at these different rates of capitalization, 20 and 30 years later, what we’re seeing is the consequence of those early ingrained cultural notions…”

Why Is This Important?

It is important because I think when we observe differences in how individuals succeed in the world our initial thought is always to say, to argue that that is the result of some kind of innate difference in ability.

And when we look at the different rates that groups succeed we think that that reflects some underlying innate trait in the characteristics of that group. And that is wrong… what capitalization rates say… is there’s another explanation and that has to do with poverty, with stupidity, and with culture.”

Low ‘Capitalization’ = Room For Improvement

We have a scarcity of achievement… not because we have a scarcity of talent. We have a scarcity of achievement because we’re squandering our talent. And that’s not bad news that’s good news; because it says that this scarcity is not something we have to live with. It’s something we can do something about.”

Here is Gladwell’s full talk at PopTech [19 min.]

Here is Gladwell’s description of his new book Outliers: The Story of Success

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