Conceptual Breakthroughs The Domain of the Young

Jason Mendelson recalls this quote: "I love backing first time CEOs because they don’t know what they can’t do and never limit themselves."

Reminds me of a conversation I had with Auren Hoffman a couple weeks ago. We theorized the best time to start a company was around age 27. On the one hand, you have acquired enough knowledge and experience to do something meaningful. On the other hand, you aren’t weighed down by the baggage of too many experiences and the tendency for such baggage to reinforce preconceived notions. And you aren’t overly jaded. And you probably don’t have a family to care for. Also, when you’re 27, you’re still free from the status worries that bedevil adults — you don’t give a shit what the neighbor thinks.

According to this wonderful Dan Pink Wired article, I would argue high-tech entrepreneurship would fall under the "conceptual breakthrough" category — swift, deductive, certain, as opposed to inductive, step-by-step innovation. Conceptual innovation, Pink says, is the domain of the young.

“Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans. Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers. Galenson maintains that this duality – conceptualists are from Mars, experimentalists are from Venus – is the core of the creative process. And it applies to virtually every field of intellectual endeavor, from painters and poets to economists.

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