Episode #130 – Marc Miller talks with Rich Karlgaard about late bloomers
Rich Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes Magazine and the author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement. He is also a lecturer, a pilot, and the author of four acclaimed previous books. A self-proclaimed late bloomer, Rich had a mediocre academic career at Stanford, which he got into by a fluke, and after graduating, worked as a dishwasher, night watchman, and typing temp, before finally finding the inner motivation and drive that ultimately led him to his current career trajectory.
[1:13] Marc welcomes you to Episode 130 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings you this podcast; CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
[1:42] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues. The more people Marc reaches, the more people he can help.
[2:02] Marc has released the third chapter of the next edition of Repurpose Your Career to the Repurpose Your Career review team. If you would like to be part of the review team, please sign up at CareerPivot.com/RYCTeam.
[2:20] You will receive new chapters as they become available. Marc would love to get an honest review on Amazon.com after the book is released.
[2:31] Marc’s plan is to release the book in mid-September and do a virtual and a real book tour. He will be in Austin, NYC Area, and D.C. during the months of September and October. Marc would love to meet his readers and listeners.
[2:48] Contact Marc at Podcasts@CareerPivot.com if you’d be willing to give him some advice on venues, job clubs, or groups who would be interested in hosting an event.
Now on to the podcast…
[3:04] Next week, Marc will give an update on where he and his wife are in their expat journey. He will talk about their healthcare, the resident visas, finances, and more!
[3:19] This week, Marc interviews Rich Karlgaard. Marc introduces Rich and welcomes him to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[4:26] Marc first saw Rich interviewed by Richard Eisenberg on NextAvenue. People in Marc’s online community recommended Rich’s book, because “We’re all late bloomers.” Marc asks about late bloomers and the background for writing the book.
[4:54] Rich talks about slacking through Stanford, after transferring from a Junior College. He contrasts himself with his ambitious, and diligent roommates. One was working on the space shuttle program, but couldn’t talk about it.
[5:56] At age 25, Rich held jobs such as dishwasher, temp typist, and security guard. On the night shift, his professional counterpart was the rottweiler patrolling with him. A couple of months later, Steve Jobs, also age 25, took Apple public. Rich always related to the idea that he was a late bloomer.
[6:35] We celebrate the early bloomer in popular culture but not late bloomers. Rich did a Google search for late bloomers and found Colonel Sanders, Ray Kroc, and Grandma Moses. Rich decided to write a book. There was no clinical definition of late bloomer, so he made one up.
[7:32] The late bloomer starts coming into their own, fulfilling what they feel is their destiny, at a later-than-expected age. It is in context to their peers. Rich explains what it means to bloom.
[8:25] Through a journey of challenging experimentation, you arrive at the intersection of your native gifts, your deepest passion, and your abiding purpose. With those three aspects in alignment, you begin to feel pulled toward some sense of who you were always meant to be.
[9:04] Marc recalls that when he graduated from college, he followed the path his parents expected of him. He went to work for IBM. He played different roles through many transitions. Much later, he realized that all his weaving around got him to where he is today. Marc didn’t bloom for quite a while.
[9:33] Rich tells how he got into Stanford and why he wasn’t ready for it.
[10:03] As a security guard, Rich had time to read. He read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, thrillers and literary novels, including Saul Bellow. He started learning what really great writing looked like. Later, he put all of that to work.
[11:12] Marc remembers when he was on a journey of discovery that he applied later.
[11:44] Rich talks about pulling experiences together and applying them to a passion and purpose, making use of your earlier interests in a new way. This can happen several times in your life, as you reinvent yourself according to new circumstances. In our later years, many of us want to have stood for something that transcends our life.
[12:41] In 2017, Fortune Magazine asked CEOs from the Fortune Best Places to Work list, including Intuit and Genentech, what they valued most in employees. The answers included curiosity, deeper pattern recognition, leadership skills, management skills, resilience, courage, and compassion.
[13:27] We expect companies to hire for high grades from elite universities. The best CEOs look for people with curiosity, courage, and resilience to keep growing. Oftentimes, the early bloomers stop growing, according to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
[14:26] Late bloomers often have a growth mindset. The early bloomers, who are rewarded in their youth, often get to the point where they think they know enough. Later blooming skills turn out to be hugely valuable. Curiosity is the first step toward growth. Early bloomers trade their curiosity for focus to get high grades.
[15:25] Marc notes that late bloomers often label themselves multipotentialites. They have lots of interests. They also tend to get bored easily. Their curiosity always drives them to learn that next thing. Rich says one becomes a better pruner of their interests as they go through life, and then focus later on, which is when they bloom.
[16:07] Neuroscience says the brain is constantly pruning. Starting in our 30s, we lose rapid synaptic speed processing and some memory but we develop cognitive attributes that support management, leadership, executive, and communication skills and deeper insights. In our 60s, we start to develop additional attributes that support wisdom.
[16:58] Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, says our grit keeps rising throughout our lives. We become much better selectors of where we’re going to apply our grit. Rich brings it back to your native gifts, deepest passions, and abiding purpose. That’s where to apply your grit.
[17:54] We become better editors of our curiosity as we get older.
[18:00] Is quitting a failure? Rich quotes Vince Lombardi. There are certain circumstances where you cannot quit. As a life strategy, train yourself not to quit when adversity comes your way. In other cases, quit at the right time. Rich cites Richard Branson and the Virgin Cola and Virgin Brides companies that he quit at the right times.
[19:20] Rich talks about Intel quitting the memory chip business for the microprocessor business. Bob Noyce, Andy Grove, and Gordon Moore debated the decision. Bob Noyce thought you should never quit. Andy Grove foresaw the rise of the personal computer. Gordon Moore argued that a new owner would go into microprocessors.
[21:15] You should never quit as the first response to adversity but at any time, there is always an optimal use of your time, treasure, talent, and purpose. If you cannot make them work optimally in your current circumstance, look for a new circumstance. A strategic retreat can be very successful.
[22:47] Daniel J. Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, published the book about poor Depression-era students and their success at the Olympics when he was 62. It was on the NYT bestseller list for 110 weeks. It was his third book but his first success.
[23:40] Daniel J. Brown had quit high school because he was having what we now call anxiety attacks. He finished school by correspondence, working in the Berkeley University library. It was that there he discovered books. Had he stayed in high school, he would not have been in the Berkeley library.
[24:29] Later, Daniel J. Brown entered law school, as his father wanted him to. He quit after three days, full of shame. Yet at age 62, he published one of the great non-fiction books of the last 10 years.
[25:00] Marc notes that the decision to quit often turns out to be a very big decision and critical to later success.
[25:16] Entrepreneurs, artists, and writers are on a different path. As a late bloomer, when you get off of the conveyor belt everyone else takes, you take responsibility for your own journey and figure it out. You may find some dead ends and have to turn back.
[26:13] If you are on an unconventional path you risk that every time you quit you reinforce the feeling that you have not found the success you want. You may feel guilty about it. Quitting is just one tool in your tool belt. Use it when it makes sense.
[26:43] What does re-potting yourself mean? Rich says your environment and people around you may not bring out the best you. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking cited research that suggests some people are ‘dandelions’ and some are ‘orchids.’
[27:34] You can drop dandelions into any environment and they will thrive. Orchids can bloom only in certain circumstances. Rich talks about why he didn’t thrive in Bismarck, ND. You need friends around you who encourage your development.
[29:27] You might be in a job that does not take you to where the best of you can come out. You have to re-pot to find your ultimate destiny.
[29:46] For new stuff to begin, you have to end stuff, according to Dr. Henry Cloud, author of Necessary Endings. We have to decide on our priorities. Do we feel what Oprah Winfrey calls our supreme destiny — what we were put on earth to do; the fulfillment of our gifts, passion, and sense of purpose?
[30:31] If you feel that destiny, even in a small amount, you have to look at your environment to see if you are being supported. Successful re-potters have gotten a great lift by joining peer groups.
[31:50] Marc’s seven career transitions have been half-step career moves, with a relationship that took him across. ‘Weak tie’ connections know people you don’t know. Rich says this is a good thing about support groups and recovery movements.
[32:32] Rich calls the half-step idea ‘adjacent spaces,’ borrowing the term from management consulting. Rich shares a case study of an L.A. advertising copywriter who realized at age 50 that she was in a youth-obsessed industry. She re-potted to Vermont to do some serious writing and it worked well for her.
[34:00] Rich gives advice about self-doubt in late bloomers. People who feel they haven’t quite arrived at that place where they feel pulled by their destiny rather than pushed by outsiders have self-doubt. What do you do about it? A long-term strategy to deal with self-doubt is to wall it off from your self-worth.
[35:20] You have inherent self-worth. You are here. You are not an accident. Learn how self-doubt can be useful to you. It shows up at the worst moment. What is it telling you? Do you need more preparation or a partner? Self-doubt is your annoying friend. Listen.
[36:46] After you listen to self-doubt, use self-talk and self-compassion; frame your self-doubt in a different way. Instead of seeing yourself as nervous about something, see yourself as excited about it. It’s the same adrenaline. Tell yourself you are going to learn something from this great opportunity. Look at self-doubt in a new way.
[37:31] Marc talks about MSU (Make Stuff Up) Disorder springing from self-doubt. Be compassionate with yourself. You are your own harshest critic.
[38:09] If you let your self-doubt infect your self-worth, you spiral downward. No one else can destroy your self-worth. Protect it from your self-doubt. Treat yourself like you would treat a vulnerable good friend. Don’t attack yourself.
[39:15] It helps to talk to yourself in the third person. “Why is [your name] feeling self-doubt. [Your name] should be feeling excitement about this opportunity!”
[39:47] Go to RichKarlgaard.com to contact Rich. He would love to hear late bloomer challenges and successes. Rich is inspired by the people who achieve unconventionally, on an unconventional timetable, and by people who suddenly realized they had an opportunity to lean into who they were becoming, not who they once were.
[41:26] Marc hopes you have noticed that he is interviewing a lot of prominent authors in 2019. When Marc and his wife returned from Mexico last Fall, Marc was surprised to find his mailbox full of books from major publishers who wanted a review of the book and an interview on the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[41:51] When Marc learns of a good new book, he contacts the publicist and asks for free copies to share with his online community, who write the review, and Marc schedules an interview for the podcast. No one has said, “No.”
[42:09] If you find a book that inspires you, please email to Podcast@CareerPivot.com and tell Marc about the book and the author and why you were inspired. Marc will see if he can get the author on the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Get involved!
[42:32] The Career Pivot Community website has become a valuable resource for the 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is recruiting new members for the next cohort.
[42:44] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[42:58] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Please go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more. They are now starting a writers’ group.
[43:47] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[44:06] Please come back next week, when Marc gives an update on becoming an expat in Mexico.
[44:12] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.