Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Geeks love studs

I was at a customer conference for a big Indian offshoring firm earlier this week, and Malcolm Gladwell was one of the speakers.  First, I must say that Gladwell is to be commended for taking his talk from his next book, rather than his last one, for generally putting a lot of energy into his talk, and for not using the phrase "10,000 hours of practice" once.  I'd contrast this with the spectacle of Michael Lewis, a better writer, totally dialling in his onstage talks and pulling from recent books.

However, there was an interesting moment where Gladwell started talking about reading Keith Richards's autobiography.  I don't really remember what his point about Richards was, but somewhere in there he made some point about Richards getting laid a lot and what the key was.  At the time, it didn't seem that significant.

A little bit later, Vivek Tanadive, CEO of TIBCO and a pretty good speaker himself, was holding forth on the same stage, pulling mostly from his most recent book, The Two-Second Advantage. Tanadive was talking about how complex event processing like the stuff TIBCO makes uses predictive technology in rapid iterations to model the fluid decision-making of top-performing humans. One of the examples he pulled out was some guy who's an amazing pick-up artist at bars, because he's able to anticipate how women will react to what he says.  No doubt Tanadive is trying to build an algorithm to model this.

But here's my point: here are two pretty geeky, truly brilliant guys totally gawking at the accomplishments of modern-day Lotharios on a stage in front of a thousand people.

Lets turn this around and think about if they were praising the incredible accomplishments of women who got lots of men to do the nasty with them. What would we call them? Hmmm, let me think.  Not geniuses.

The thing is, just like the Zuckerberg character in The Social Network, we're talking about geeks who just want to get some action and approval from the ladies. The real question for men who are driven to sleep with lots of women is not the how of it, but the why.

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