in 111 Books in 2011

#18/111: Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders

What is it about?

Scott Shane summarizes various scientific studies in genetics on work, leadership and entrepreneurship. He shows what genes can do and how they act in these different situations.

Key points?

We don’t know so much about genes: Genetics is a complex topic and it isn’t easy to test hypotheses. Most studies cited in this book are based on twin studies, i.e. you can only check if there is a genetic difference but not where it actually is. Scientists have extracted some genes which are responsible for characteristics like risk taking or impulsiveness but they affect a lot of different behaviors. In conclusion, it is really hard to find (all) genes which are responsible for a particular behavior.

Look at indirect effects: However, it is possible to extrapolate differences which are generated by genes. E.g. your temperament or your OCEAN (Big Five) personality traits are much influenced by your genes. These account for about 50-60% of your characteristic. 

What we know is that there is influence: Your personality traits, in turn, influences many of your decisions, like what job you are going to choose. So, genes actually influence your decision whether to become an accountant or a salesman but mostly indirectly.

I think that this book is a good draft which should be extended if there are more  scientific discoveries. Many studies aren’t replicated and scientists are only at the beginning to understand how everything works. Nonetheless, it is an interesting book that shows what could be possible in the future. Like identifying your strengths more easily or more efficient forms of education.
But your life isn’t determined. Genes don’t explain all the variance, i.e. your environment (parents, your actions, friends, etc.) explains the rest.

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