The 10,000 Hour Rule

Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist, first wrote about it and Malcolm Gladwell author of pop behavioral science books like “Tipping Point”, ran with it.

The 10,000 Hour Rule: It states it takes 10,000 hours to develop world class expertise in a subject or skill.

To press his “world class” distinction, Gladwell points out that people who are successful at a very early age, like the Beatles and young Bill Gates, put in their 10,000 hours while they were still young, the Beatles great making music and Gates peddling worse-than-crap software. (I’m joking…sort of.)

Two observations about the 10,000 hour rule:

1. You can be really, really good at something without needing 10,000 hours of practice. That said, hours of intelligent work do matter and matter a lot. There’s no substitute for it.

2. If you do aspire to world class skill – which does NOT guarantee world class Beatle-like success – you’re looking at a serious mountain to climb.

Let’s break it down…

The 10,000 Hour Rule by the numbers

If you spend one hour a day on your practice/training/studies etc., you’re looking at 27.3 years before you hit the “magic” 10,000 point.

Two hours a day will get you there in a speedy 13.6 years.

If you’re in a real hurry, go four hours a day and you’ll get there in a mere 6.8 years.

If you’re truly serious, give it seven hours a day and in 3.9 years (call it four to allow some time off holidays) and you’ll be there.

To bring this down to earth, book knowledge (which is a world of difference from do-ing skill, but still extremely helpful) can be acquired much more quickly.

Just an hour a day, gets you to 30 hours in a month or 365 hours in a year.

Focus your reading on single topic and there aren’t many topics you can’t become a pro at in a year or less of self-directed study.

Mastering the skill of money making

I give this advice often and if I haven’t put it in writing, now’s the time.

If you want to be smart about marketing, ignore the trendy flash-in-the-pan gurus and read the classics: Claude Hopkins, John Caples, Dick Benson, Victor Schwab, Maxwell Sackheim, Robert Collier, Drayton Bird, Harry Browne, Dan Kennedy, David Ogilvy, and Gary Bencivenga for starters.

These guys are the touchstones.

Read and re-read their books until they’re in your bones.

In a year or less, you won’t need marketing gurus, coaches, consultants, seminars or any other such expensive nonsense.

You may want to take advantage of the insights of others (always a good idea), but with your year of reading behind you, you’ll be buying wisely.

There are great values available in marketing education for the informed – but there’s also a lot of crap.

Sadly, people who don’t do their homework only get the good stuff if they’re very lucky and then a lot of them don’t benefit from their good luck because they lack the basic foundation to recognize good from bad advice.

Secret: Buying wisely is one of the essential, if unglamorous, sides of business. Folks peddling expensive education programs tend to leave that lesson out.

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. I’ve put in my 10,000 hours (more than a few times now) on the subject of marketing and how to help people develop their own marketing know-how in as little time as possible.

Here’s how I help people who want to become more savvy about their marketing without paying an arm and a leg for it.

Deval Patrick, idiot politician of the year
The System Seminar: The good, the bad, the better
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