Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thomas Edison an Outlier

         When I had to pick an outlier to research at first i wasn't sure who to pick.  I knew it should be someone influential so one of the first people that came to mind was Thomas Edison.  I didn't really have much proof that he was an outlier until i actually started to research him.  After reading a lot about him i realized that he is indeed an outlier and follows some of the rules to be successful.
      Thomas Edison was born February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio.  He was the last of seven children.  When Edison was young he had scarlet fever which left him nearly deaf.  Later in his life this disadvantage would come back to affect him.  Edison was only in school for 12 weeks before his teacher deemed him difficult and his mom decided to pull him out and teach him at home.  This wide open curriculum allowed him to self educate himself and learn independently. Edison getting pulled out of school might have actually been a special opportunity.  Although at first it might have seemed like a bad thing, Edison had more time than any child his age to focus on and learn what he wanted. He was also used to teaching himself new topics and experimenting to find things out on his own.  That explains why from a very young age Edison was an entrepreneur.  For example he published his own newspaper called The Grand Trunk Herald and he sold it to passengers.
         For example,  Edison was given a special opportunity.  He saved a three year old child from being run over by a train and the boys father was so grateful that he taught Edison to operate a telegraph.  This   opportunity allowed Edison to become employed as a telegraph operator.  Getting to work as a telegraph operator lead Edison to become very familiar with electrical science. That special opportunity really allowed him to discover his love for electrical science.
      Thomas Edison was also privy to accumulative advantage.    All his special opportunities put together lead to accumulative advantage.  From a very young age Edison capitalized on opportunities like when he was kicked out of school.  He didn't let not going to school stop him from learning.    Also when he became a telegraph operator he used every chance he had to learn as much about  the telegraph and electrical science.  Basically Thomas Edison's advantages started small and then snowballed down to huge advantages.
       Another rule of success  that Thomas Edison followed was the 10,000 hour rule.  Edison has basically been working towards 10,000 hours since he was a young boy.  All that free time he had as a kid allowed him to get a head start on 10,000 hours.  When Edison was 19 he began working at the Associated Press.  He worked the night shift so he could spend a lot of time reading and experimenting with electricity.  That also goes towards the 10,000 hour rule.  When Edison was only 22 years old he had his first successful invention which was an improved stock ticker that the Stock Telegraph Company bought for $40,000.  20-22 years of age is normally when most devoted people reach the 10,000 hour rule which is conveniently when Edison had his first successful invention.
     Edison became a well known inventor by the 1870's.  He created a few useful inventions but the most well known by far was the light bulb.  He then created the Edison Illuminating Company which provided electricity to paying citizens.  I think it's quite clear that Thomas Edison was extremely successful but now its also pretty clear that he's also an outlier.  He had a few special opportunities which lead to accumulative advantage and he also completed the 10,000 hour rule.  In my persona opinion Thomas Edison is a true outlier.