I'm reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers: The Story of Success. It's a fascinating work that studies the circumstances which help mold ultra-successful people. There is a lot more to success than you might think. The typical American thought process on success is that smart and talented people work harder than their peers and ultimately become successful in their field. That's the American Dream, but it isn't that simple. While hard work and talent are certainly critical to success in any venture, those aren't the only ingredients. Timing, opportunity, expectations, access, and cultural factors all play a major role in success. For instance, Gladwell writes that Bill Gates just so happened to go to one of the few middle schools in America that had a computer in the late 1960's. Gates spent hours learning how to program and write code. Had Gates been a youngster in any other city or at any other middle school or in any other time in history, the world might not know the basics of the PC as we have them today. Would Bill Gates have been any less intelligent had he not had that access? Of course not. Would Bill Gates have been any less driven had he not been able to work on his craft at such a young age? Of course not. But Bill Gates is a product of excellent timing, unique access, nurturing support, and endless opportunity.
National Signing Day 2012 will once again be a huge event. Hundreds of websites will enjoy record traffic, and countless radio and television shows will profile the nation's top high school football talent. It is not uncommon for recruiting junkies to take off work on the first Wednesday in February and spend the day trying to make sense of their favorite team's recruiting haul. And I've got news for you, National Signing Day is only going to get bigger. But what created this monster? This relatively new phenomenon of sports lunacy had to start somewhere. The NCAA doesn't directly benefit from high school kids choosing hats off of a table. So what factors built National Signing Day into the huge event that it is today?