Talent Scouting

As a college counselor, I’m interested in the work of talent scouts. (I am interested in any activity that results in an individual’s gifts, passions, and talents being discovered and supported.) I stumbled across a Robert Scoble year-end interview of venture capitalist Rich Wong, and immediately realized that venture capitalists belong to the talent scout tribe. (So does Scoble, for that matter!)


Here is Rich talking about his internal heuristics around assessing a pitch. This reminded me a little bit of an Einstein quote Dan Meyer shared in a presentation, also in December: “The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.”

If I were still in the business of reviewing college applications, a perspective like Rich’s might make me wonder how we could assess prospective students’ ability to “frame up” a problem. Because wouldn’t THOSE be interesting people to invite to join a learning community?


Here Rich shares some of his thoughts on assessing an entrepreneur’s social reputation. Again, thinking about the work of college search and fit, this makes me think about how a college could “read” a student’s associations to get a better feel for the kind of campus contributor they might be. College admissions offices are probably most accustomed to thinking about this question within the realm of extracurricular involvements. Some of the current thinking runs along causal lines: “HS debate champ = college debater.” What about the kind of reputation scoring Rich talks about here? Are there young people who have pushed their network skills in the direction of their learning, and if so, what do they look like? Would an admissions officer know how to find or recognize them?

Turning that assessment vector around, how might a student’s perspective on a college community change as that student seeks out different windows on that community’s activities? As we move towards increased transparency of both social connections and of learning, how is what we do changed? (What kind of Hawthorne effects are going on?)

Lots of questions, no definitive answers… the usual!


Posted on January 14, 2010, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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