Give Entrepreneurs “the Solitude They Need to Think Creatively”

(p. R1) . . . , numerous entrepreneurs and CEOs are either self-admitted introverts or have so many introvert qualities that they are widely thought to be introverts. These include Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, Larry Page, co-founder of Google, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, Marissa Mayer, current president and CEO of Yahoo, and Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

As entrepreneurs, introverts succeed because they “create and lead companies from a very focused place,” says Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and founder of Quiet Revolution, a website for introverts.
. . .
Many people believe that introverts, by definition, are shy and extroverts are outgoing. This is incorrect. Introverts, whom experts say comprise about a third of the population, get their energy and process information internally. Some may be shy and some may be outgoing, but they all prefer to spend time alone or in small groups, and often feel drained by a lot of social interaction or large groups.
. . .
Introverts not only have the stamina to spend long periods alone–they love it. “Good entrepreneurs are able to give themselves the solitude they need to think creatively and originally–to create something where there once was nothing,” says Ms. Cain. “And this is just how introverts are wired.”
. . .
While extroverts are networking, promoting or celebrating success, introverts have their “butt on the seat,” says Laurie Helgoe, author of “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength” and assistant professor in the department of psychology and human services at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W.Va. “An introvert on his (p. R2) or her own is going to enjoy digging in and doing research–and be able to sustain him- or herself in that lonely place of forging your own way.”
They don’t need external affirmation
Another important characteristic of introverts is that they tend to rely on their own inner compass–not external signals–to know that they’re making the right move or doing a good job. That can give them an edge in several ways.
For instance, they generally don’t look for people to tell them whether an idea is worth pursuing. They tend to think it through before speaking about it to anybody, and rely on their own judgment about whether it’s worth pursuing.
With extroverts, the need for social stimulation, for getting the idea in front of other people, can make them leap before they’ve thought something out, Ms. Buelow says. “It’s very important for them to get outside feedback and motivation.” Feedback is great, of course. But at a certain point a leader needs to decide on a plan and execute it.
Following their own compass also helps introverts stay focused on a venture. Extroverts can get sidetracked by seeking external validation, such as awards or media attention for a project, which can divert them from their main goals. While introverts welcome external validation, they won’t let it define them or distract them. “It’s about keeping the long-haul perspective,” Ms. Buelow says.
What’s more, because introverts aren’t looking for outside events to validate their plans–or themselves–they don’t take setbacks as personally as extroverts. Somebody who relies on external affirmation tends to take setbacks personally and may get dispirited if the company hits a rough patch.
. . .
. . . , in a 2009 study looking at how introverts and extroverts approached an “effortful task,” Maya Tamir, director of the Emotion and Self-Regulation Laboratory at Boston College and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, found that extroverts sought a happy state while completing the task, while introverts preferred to maintain a neutral emotional state.
“The introverts’ happy space is a quieter space with less interruptions,” says Ms. Buelow. “They won’t have that overstimulation.”

For the full commentary, see:
ELIZABETH BERNSTEIN. “The Case for the Introverted Entrepreneur; Conventional wisdom says you need to be an extrovert to start a successful business. That’s wrong for all sorts of reasons.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., August 24, 2015): R1-R2.
(Note: ellipses added; bold in original.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the title “Why Introverts Make Great Entrepreneurs; Conventional wisdom says you need to be an extrovert to start a successful business. That’s wrong for all sorts of reasons.”)

The Cain book mentioned in the commentary quoted above is:
Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. New York: Crown, 2012.

The Helgoe book mentioned in the commentary quoted above is:
Helgoe, Laurie. Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2013.

The Maya Tamir article mentioned above, is:
Tamir, Maya. “Differential Preferences for Happiness: Extraversion and Trait-Consistent Emotion Regulation.” Journal of Personality 77, no. 2 (April 2009): 447-70.

Skills Gap Is Bigger Labor Market Problem than Technology Progress

(p. A17) Technology disrupting the workforce is not a new phenomenon and it has never proved a lasting impediment for those eager to work. The invention of, say, the internal-combustion engine put buggy-whip makers and carriage assemblers out of business, but it created many more jobs in the manufacture, advertising, sales and maintenance of automobiles. Other technologies, from the cotton gin to the airplane, expanded job opportunities and created goods and services that made the hard work worthwhile.
What is unique about today’s digital revolution is the suspicion, fanned by progressives, that for the first time technology threatens to make obsolete not only some jobs–as assembly-line robotics has, for instance–but human labor itself.
. . .
That poor schooling, and not some intrinsic human limitation, is the real barrier to full employment seems to be borne out by what economists call the “skills gap.” More than nine million Americans are currently looking for work, but 5.4 million job openings continue to sit unfilled, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most of the largest increases have been in health care or professional and business services.
In a recent study by the large U.S. online job site, CareerBuilder, more than half the employers surveyed had positions for which they could not find qualified candidates: 71% had trouble finding information-technology specialists, 70% engineers, 66% managers, 56% health-care and other specialists, and 52% financial operations personnel. Nearly half of small and medium-size employers say they can find few or no “qualified applicants” for recent vacancies, according to the latest survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
With the Labor Department conceding that help-wanted postings have “remained at a historically high level,” this is the time not to rail against technology but to use it to make education more effective: gearing coursework to the learning styles of individual students, identifying and remedying disabilities early on, and providing online access to the best classes in the world.

For the full commentary, see:
LEWIS M. ANDREWS. “Robots Don’t Mean the End of Human Labor; The left frets about the impact of technology, but new jobs will be created. The real problem is bad schools.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Aug. 24, 2015): A13.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated on Aug. 23, 2015.)

Chinese Communists Fear the Magna Carta

(p. A5) HONG KONG — China’s leaders have long behaved as if nothing could daunt them. But an 800-year-old document written in Latin on sheepskin may have them running scared.
. . .
It is not clear why the public showing was moved off the Renmin University campus. But Magna Carta is widely considered a cornerstone for constitutional government in Britain and the United States, and such a system is inimical to China’s leaders, who view “constitutionalism” as a threat to Communist Party rule.
In 2013, the party issued its “seven unmentionables” — taboo topics for its members. The first unmentionable is promoting Western-style constitutional democracy. The Chinese characters for “Magna Carta” are censored in web searches on Sina Weibo, the country’s Twitter-like social media site.
Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese dissident, said he was not surprised that the exhibit had been moved off the campus. He said that Renmin University had close ties to the Communist Party’s training academy and that the principles the document stood for were contrary to the party’s. More important, he said, Chinese leaders may have been concerned that the exhibit would be popular and that “many students would flock there.”
“They fear that such ideology and historical material will penetrate deep into the students’ hearts,” Mr. Hu said.
. . .
Magna Carta has been the subject of several academic conferences and lectures in China this year, including two at Renmin University. One doctoral student in history who knows people at the museum said that the school had canceled the exhibit on orders of the Ministry of Education.
“To get kind of wound up about an old document like the Magna Carta? They’re a little bit brittle and fragile, aren’t they, Chinese leaders?” said Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat who was stationed in Beijing and now serves as director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney in Australia. “Poor dears.”

For the full story, see:
MICHAEL FORSYTHE. “Magna Carta Visits China, but Venue Abruptly Shifts.” The New York Times (Thurs., OCT. 15, 2015): A5.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article was dated OCT. 14, 2015, and had the title “Magna Carta Exhibition in China Is Abruptly Moved From University.”)

FTC Retaliated Against, and Destroyed, Innocent Firm that Stood Up for Rule of Law

(p. A17) Sometimes winning is still losing. That is certainly true for companies that find themselves caught in the cross hairs of the federal government. Since 2013, my organization has defended one such company, the cancer-screening LabMD, against meritless allegations from the Federal Trade Commission. Last Friday, [November 13, 2015] the FTC’s chief administrative-law judge dismissed the agency’s complaint. But it was too late. The reputational damage and expense of a six-year federal investigation forced LabMD to close last year.
. . .
Unlike many other companies in similar situations, . . . , LabMD refused to cave and in 2012 went public with the ordeal. In what appeared to be retaliation, the FTC sued LabMD in 2013, alleging that the company engaged in “unreasonable” data-security practices that amounted to an “unfair” trade practice by not taking reasonable steps to protect patient information. FTC officials publicly attacked LabMD and imposed arduous demands on the doctors who used the company’s diagnostic services. In just one example, the FTC subpoenaed a Florida oncology lab to produce documents and appear for depositions before government lawyers–all at the doctors’ expense.
Yet after years of investigation and enforcement action, the FTC never produced a single patient or doctor who suffered or who alleged identity theft or harm because of LabMD’s data-security practices. The FTC never claimed that LabMD violated HIPAA regulations, and until 2014–four years after its investigation began–never offered any data-security standards with which LabMD failed to comply.
. . .
. . . , the FTC is likely to simply disregard the 92-page decision–which weighed witness credibility and the law–and side with commission staff. That’s the still greater injustice: The FTC is not bound by administrative-law judge rulings. In fact, the agency has disregarded every adverse ruling over the past two decades, according to a February analysis by former FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright. Defendants’ only recourse is appealing in federal court, a fresh burden in legal fees.
That’s what happens when a federal agency serves as its own detective, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. As Mr. Wright observed, the FTC’s record is “a strong sign of an unhealthy and biased institutional process.” And he puts it perhaps most powerfully: “Even bank robbery prosecutions have less predictable outcomes than administrative adjudication at the FTC.” Winning against the federal government should never require losing so much.

For the full commentary, see:
DAN EPSTEIN. “Hounded Out of Business by Regulators; The company LabMD finally won its six-year battle with the FTC, but vindication came too late.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Nov. 20, 2015): A17.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated on Nov. 19, 2015.)

Scientific Insight Requires Hard Work More than Easy Epiphany

(p. A21) The myth of the finches obscures the qualities that were really responsible for Darwin’s success: the grit to formulate his theory and gather evidence for it; the creativity to seek signs of evolution in existing animals, rather than, as others did, in the fossil record; and the open-mindedness to drop his belief in creationism when the evidence against it piled up.
The mythical stories we tell about our heroes are always more romantic and often more palatable than the truth. But in science, at least, they are destructive, in that they promote false conceptions of the evolution of scientific thought.
Of the tale of Newton and the apple, the historian Richard S. Westfall wrote, “The story vulgarizes universal gravitation by treating it as a bright idea … A bright idea cannot shape a scientific tradition.” Science is just not that simple and it is not that easy.
. . .
Even if we are not scientists, every day we are challenged to make judgments and decisions about technical matters like vaccinations, financial investments, diet supplements and, of course, global warming. If our discourse on such topics is to be intelligent and productive, we need to dip below the surface and grapple with the complex underlying issues. The myths can seduce one into believing there is an easier path, one that doesn’t require such hard work.
But even beyond issues of science, there is a broader lesson to learn, . . . . We all run into difficult problems in life, and we will be happier and more successful if we appreciate that the answers often aren’t quick, or easy.

For the full commentary, see:
LEONARD MLODINOW. “It Is, in Fact, Rocket Science.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., MAY 16, 2015): A21.
(Note: ellipsis internal to third quoted paragraph, in original; other ellipses, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated on MAY 15, 2015.)

Mlodinow’s book, related to the commentary quoted above, is:
Mlodinow, Leonard. The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos. New York: Pantheon Books, 2015.

Challenging Videogame Improves Attention and Memory in Seniors

(p. R1) Neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and his colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco have found that playing a challenging videogame upgrades our ability to pay attention.
As reported in the journal Nature in 2013, the Gazzaley lab trained 60- to 85-year-old subjects on a game called NeuroRacer. The multitask version involves simulated driving along a winding road while quickly pressing keys or a game controller to respond to a green sign when it appears on the roadside. As a control, some subjects played a single-task version of the game that omits the winding road and involves only noticing and responding to the green sign. To ensure that subjects were genuinely challenged but not discouraged, the level of game difficulty was individualized.
After 12 hours of training spread evenly over a month, multitasking subjects were about twice as efficient at shifting attention as when they started, a huge improvement by any standard. Remarkably, their new scores were comparable to those of 20-year-olds not trained on NeuroRacer. The subjects still tested positive six months later.
The multitaskers also got an unexpected brain bonus. Their sustained concentration and working memory (briefly holding information such as a phone number) improved as well. The training had targeted neither of these functions, but the general benefits emerged nonetheless.

For the full commentary, see:
PATRICIA CHURCHLAND. “MIND AND MATTER; A Senior Moment for Videogames as Brain-Boosters.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Oct. 3, 2015): C2.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 30, 2015, and the title “MIND AND MATTER: Videogames for Seniors Boost Brainpower.”)

The Gazzaley article mentioned above, is:
Anguera, J. A., J. Boccanfuso, J. L. Rintoul, O. Al-Hashimi, F. Faraji, J. Janowich, E. Kong, Y. Larraburo, C. Rolle, E. Johnston, and Adam Gazzaley. “Video Game Training Enhances Cognitive Control in Older Adults.” Nature 501, no. 7465 (Sept. 5, 2013): 97-101.

Inflation of the Co-Authorship Bubble

CoauthorInflationGraph2015-10-30.jpg Source of graphic: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A1) . . . , there has been a notable spike since 2009 in the number of technical reports whose author (p. A10) counts exceeded 1,000 people, according to the Thomson Reuters Web of Science, which analyzed citation data. In the ever-expanding universe of credit where credit is apparently due, the practice has become so widespread that some scientists now joke that they measure their collaborators in bulk–by the “kilo-author.”

Earlier this year, a paper on rare particle decay published in Nature listed so many co-authors–about 2,700–that the journal announced it wouldn’t have room for them all in its print editions. And it isn’t just physics. In 2003, it took 272 scientists to write up the findings of the first complete human genome–a milestone in biology–but this past June, it took 1,014 co-authors to document a minor gene sequence called the Muller F element in the fruit fly.
. . .
More than vanity is at stake. Credit on a peer-reviewed research article weighs heavily in hiring, promotion and tenure decisions. “Authorship has become such a big issue because evaluations are performed based on the number of papers people have authored,” said Dr. Larivière.
. . .
Michigan State University mathematician Jack Hetherington published a paper in 1975 on low temperature physics in Physical Review Letters with F.D.C. Willard. His colleagues only discovered that his co-author was a siamese cat several years later when Dr. Hetherington started handing out copies of the paper signed with a paw print.
In the same spirit, Shalosh B. Ekhad at Rutgers University so far has published 32 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals with his co-author Doron Zeilberger. It turns out that Shalosh B. Ekhad is Hebrew for the model number of a personal computer used by Dr. Zeilberger. “The computer helps so much and so often,” Dr. Zeilberger said.
Not everyone takes such pranks lightly.
Immunologist Polly Matzinger at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases named her dog, Galadriel Mirkwood, as a co-author on a paper she submitted to the Journal of Experimental Medicine. “What amazed me was that the paper went through the entire editorial process and nobody noticed,” Dr. Matzinger said. When the journal editor realized he had published work crediting an Afghan hound, he was furious, she recalled.
Physicists may be more open-minded. Sir Andre Geim, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics, credited H.A.M.S. ter Tisha as his co-author of a 2001 paper published in the journal Physica B. Those journal editors didn’t bat an eye when his co-author was unmasked as a pet hamster. “Not a harmful joke,” said Physica editor Reyer Jochemsen at the Leiden University in the Netherlands.
“Physicists apparently, even journal editors, have a better sense of humor than the life sciences,” said Dr. Geim at the U.K.’s University of Manchester.

For the full story, see:
ROBERT LEE HOTZ. “Scientists Observe Odd Phenomenon of Multiplying Co-Authors.”The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Aug. 10, 2015): A1 & A10.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the title “How Many Scientists Does It Take to Write a Paper? Apparently, Thousands.”)