The Common Scold

The Common Scold is named after a cause of action that originated in Pilgrim days, when meddlesome, argumentative, opinionated women who displeased the Puritan elders were punished by a brisk dunk in the local pond. Believe it or not, the tort lasted until 1972, when State v. Palendrano, 120 N.J. Super. 336, 293 A.2d 747 (N.J.Super.L., Jul 13, 1972) pretty much put it to rest. But the thought of those feisty women, not afraid of a little cold water, has always cheered me up and inspired me. I first used the moniker as the name of my humor column at the University of San Francisco School of Law many moons ago, and revive it now for this blawg!



OutliersI'm a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell, and I'm absolutely fascinated by leadership, so I was eager to grab his new book, Outliers: The Story of Success. I know it got trashed by some critics, but ignore them. It's a fascinating study that sets out to debunk the cowboy notion of "self-made men" -- and explores the factors that have come into play to create successful people.

Gladwell concludes that everything from when you are born (for example, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both born in 1955, so they were young adults at a critical time in cyber-history), and how much time you invest (it takes just about 10,000 hours to perfect any craft), and what type of social/family/cultural  structure you were raised with, can sharply influence your ability to succeed.

Gladwell studies a cross section of powerful, successful people, from Gates/Jobs, the Beatles, Canadian hockey players, to Joseph Flom -- the first associate at  Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. And he looks at how his theories played out with Gladwell's own family. His observations are fascinating and encouraging.

And do buy the audiobook -- Gladwell reads his own book, and he's a perfect storyteller, none better.

December 28, 2008 in Books | Permalink


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As a companion read Seth Godin's rebuttal to the 10,00 hour claim, which he argues is not true in all cases. Basically, Gladwell's model is missing a layer of complexity -- the level of competition in a given market.

Posted by: Neil J. Squillante | Jan 4, 2009 11:41:48 PM

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