Great People Are Overrated

Last month, in an article in the New York Times on the ever-escalating “war for talent” in Silicon Valley, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a passing comment that has become the entrepreneurial equivalent of a verbal tick — something that’s said all the time, almost without thinking.

“Someone who is exceptional in their role is not just a little better than someone who is pretty good,” he argued when asked why he was willing to pay $47 million to acquire FriendFeed, a price that translated to about $4 million per employee. “They are 100 times better.”

Source: Great People Are Overrated


That’s nice and all, but in the real world the people writing the paychecks get to decide that. I’d argue this is as much psychological as anything else.

  • If you are being massively overpaid, then you probably think you deserve it.
  • If you deserve to be compensated like a demigod, then obviously you are special (since most people barely get compensated as human labor).
  • If you are so special as to be worth wads of cash, then there may exist other such special people who are also worth wads of cash (though less than yourself, of course).

On the flip side, if you are mediocre (or believe that society at large sees you as mediocre, as measured by your paycheck), then you may well see the great mass of humanity more similar to you and are more likely to see those with standout paychecks as undeserving of them.

In short, the star earner is more likely to see their personal effort as the driver of their paycheck whereas a commoner is more likely to see the lucky breaks as the driver, IMHO.

Adam Cohen’s answer to Is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin a good idea? – Quora

Answer by Adam Cohen, Internet Economist. I work for SeatGeek.

No. Bitcoin is a ludicrously bad idea. It is a scam. A Scam. It is not a currency. The economic assumptions underpinning the Bitcoin ecosystem are laughable, and ignore hundreds of years of accumulated understanding of how currencies work with each other.

Source: Adam Cohen’s answer to Is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin a good idea? – Quora

CEO pay dwarfs employee pay, AFL-CIO highlights

In 2010, chief executives at some of the nation’s largest companies earned $11.4 million in total pay, on average, far more than the typical American worker, according to the AFL-CIO.

Source: CEO pay dwarfs employee pay, AFL-CIO highlights


The numbers aren’t *quite* that bad. Note that they are comparing CEO compensation at S&P 500 companies versus Bureau of Labor Statistics data on *all* American workers as total CEO:Worker pay disparity; that’s like comparing the average income of Ivy League graduates to the average income of all high school graduates and labeling the result “the value of a college education”. But, the number is pretty bad and reflects a much greater disparity than at some points in the relatively recent past.

Why American innovation will beat out China’s – Global Public Square – Blogs

Sometime this year, the Chinese government will announce a new initiative to lure ten scientific superstars to research labs throughout China. The government hopes that if it offers a $23 million dollar award to Nobel Prize winners and other luminaries, they will relocate and raise the quality and prestige of Chinese research and development.

Source: Why American innovation will beat out China’s – Global Public Square – Blogs


It sure would be nice if the US had a friendlier policy for letting graduate-educated people immigrate permanently to the US (especially those its institutions trained!).