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There's no such thing as an "Average Golfer"


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#1 Smash Factors

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:28 PM

It's fairly common on this forum to see people asking about the average golfer when trying to do some type of comparison. Have you ever seen anyone ask how far the average golfer drives the ball? Or, how many putts per round does your average golfer take? What's the up-and-down percentage of your average golfer?

We live in a world where we are constantly compared to averages. Our education system is designed around the concept of average learners. Were tested and graded, then compared to the average. Our employers review our performance and compare us to an average. Our FICO scores are based upon our deviation to an average.

Because of this, the concept of "averageness" regarding people has filtered it's way into virtually every aspect of our life, including golf. And while it seems like discussing average golfers is a logical thing to be doing, it actually turns out that there is no such thing as an average golfer. Nor is there such thing as an average person. Here is why.

Back in the early 1940's, the US Air Force measured the bodily dimensions of 4000 pilots, 140 different ways. This included shoulder width, arm length, height, waist size, head size and basically every possible thing that could be measured. Their plan was to take the averages of all those measurements and design a fighter plane cockpit that would fit basically all pilots.

Shortly thereafter, a fellah from Harvard came along and discovered how incredibly wrong it is to do such a thing. He discovered that not a single pilot from the group of 4000 met all 140 of the measurements. It begs the question, what good is the average when nobody actually IS average?

He wondered if finding an actual "Average sized person" is even possible. To find out, he measured the pilots again but used only 10 basic measurements this time instead of 140. He crunched the averages and discovered that not a single pilot out of all 4000 possessed all 10 of those average measurements. In short, not a single pilot was actually "Average".

So basically, the Air Force was getting ready to design a cockpit that actually fit nobody.

So instead, they designed a cockpit with an adjustable chair and other adjustable features so that virtually any sized pilot could get comfortable. This was the birth of adjustable seats and steering wheels in the automotive industry.

How does this apply to golf? Well, you could always just use handicap and compare yours to the average. The problem is that handicaps are based upon a singular dimension.....scoring. As we know, golf talent is not based upon a singular dimension. As with football, baseball, basketball or any other sport, golf talent is comprised of many, many things which make it a multi-dimensional phenomena.

So, if you wrongly decided to venture out and determine what an average golfer is, you might create a list of 30 golf shots and see how 4000 people do on each of those shots. Then, find the average performance of each shot and you will have your average golfer, right?

Well, just like the guy from Harvard discovered, there is no average person because not a single golfer from your group of 4000 (Or more) would actually meet all those averages. Nobody is average! If you then tried to create some type of golf instruction program based upon those averages, your program would in fact be designed to accurately instruct nobody.

The reason for this is that golf talent is multi-dimensional being comprised of many, many skill sets, where the depth of each set is more vast than the set itself. You cannot possibly compile them all and come up with an average that actually describes even one person no matter how many people you survey.

The short explanation is that we are all individuals that have our own unique way of not only learning, but also using our mind and body to do things. Golf instruction should probably follow along this guideline. There are no standard moves or standard actions that work for everyone. Because we are all unique, we need to be treated uniquely dependant upon our own tendencies and characteristics.

There are no average golfers, and you certainly are not an average person.

Edited by Smash Factors, 09 January 2018 - 08:32 PM.

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#2 Markrip

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:36 PM

I knew I was above average!
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#3 Medic

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:38 PM

Sort of like the concept of average height, average weight and such.

So long as there are reasonable highs and lows I could see where "averages" would come in. If I play with 9 friends who all shoot different scores I can add the 10 of our scores together and come up with an average. Having done this if said average is, say 84, then anyone shooting an 84 or so could be considered "average" in our group.

While the idea of having an average golfer is a vague concept at best because of the number of things that would have to be considered it still exists. Just my take on it.
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#4 sdandrea

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:40 PM

Nice to know I'm not average.  Now I know nobody is.  Interesting facts!

Edited by sdandrea, 09 January 2018 - 08:40 PM.

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#5 DavePelz4

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:44 PM

My sons are 6'7" and 6'4" trust me when I say they they'd like to be average as they don't fit proportionally in the world.


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#6 Smash Factors

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:54 PM

View PostMedic, on 09 January 2018 - 08:38 PM, said:

Sort of like the concept of average height, average weight and such.

So long as there are reasonable highs and lows I could see where "averages" would come in. If I play with 9 friends who all shoot different scores I can add the 10 of our scores together and come up with an average. Having done this if said average is, say 84, then anyone shooting an 84 or so could be considered "average" in our group.

While the idea of having an average golfer is a vague concept at best because of the number of things that would have to be considered it still exists. Just my take on it.

Yep. That works with scoring because it not multi-dimensional.
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#7 bigfatant

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:37 AM

Similarly: You are completely unique
just like everybody else in the world...


And I thought someone would have mentioned something about using standard clubs with regular flexes (which I do) while having an average handicap.. lol

Edited by bigfatant, 10 January 2018 - 07:41 AM.

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#8 davep043

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:35 AM

I think averages do have a place in golf, specifically in evaluation of an individual's game.  If you're a 12 handicap, you could compare your own statistics to the average for 12 handicaps to see where you perform better or worse than average.  You can then develop an instruction and  practice plan to improve the areas in which your performance is sub-standard, while not spending a lot of time on your strengths.  If you putt like a PGA pro, but hit your driver off the planet, you won't improve your overall scoring by practicing your putting.

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#9 wkuo3

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:51 AM

According to "Smash Factors", you are nitty gritty about the numbers :good: .....As most of the digital age generation.

I do agree the "average golfer" does not match a singular person in that sense, but a categorized symbol representing the largest group of golfers.  The definition for the "largest group of golfers" changes with time so it's also a variable.
Numbers and statistics are there to assist decision making , for reference, for grouping information into something our intellectual ability could analyze but never the end of the explaining the fact.  Strange isn't it ?  Numbers does not always explain the fact >

That's what we're doing now.  We seemed to understand more with massive of information that's available these days,  but not able to use the information efficiently , correctly.  As in every facet of life in this moment of time of the human history.

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#10 HatsForBats

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:05 AM

So a lot of words trying to convince people that it is very is unlikely to find someone who matches all of the criteria for the 'average' so therefore everyone is a beautiful, unique snowflake and special? Sorry, no. A person doesn't need to match all of the averages to be considered average. Besides our inner circle nobody cares about what makes us unique. At the end of the day we are just average. Even some of those in our inner circles don't care but at least they hopefully pretend they do.


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#11 zebra2955

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:54 AM

So does the average golfer wear jeans with his shirt untucked ?
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#12 NJpatbee

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 10:34 AM

In discussing golf statistics (or any other type of statistic) the "average" is the least meaningful of the measurements.  We do not call people "median" golfers, but the median score or driving distance are more accurate measurements of a group of golfers.  That being said, for myself an "average" golfer is someone who is not a low dingle digit handicap or better, but some one who plays a reasonable amateur game shooting between 80 and 95 (roughly).  I look at "average" as a fairly wide window of ability.

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#13 zmrobertson

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 10:54 AM

View PostNJpatbee, on 10 January 2018 - 10:34 AM, said:

In discussing golf statistics (or any other type of statistic) the "average" is the least meaningful of the measurements.  We do not call people "median" golfers, but the median score or driving distance are more accurate measurements of a group of golfers.  That being said, for myself an "average" golfer is someone who is not a low dingle digit handicap or better, but some one who plays a reasonable amateur game shooting between 80 and 95 (roughly).  I look at "average" as a fairly wide window of ability.

My low dingle is NOT average sir!
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#14 Ferguson

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 11:40 AM

One thing I learned from my HS GYM Teacher -

There is no such thing as average when it comes to low dingles.

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#15 disco111

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 11:54 AM

One thing I do know is that the older you get, the lower the dingles get.............. :WTF: :cheesy:


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#16 ChipNRun

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:21 PM

View PostSmash Factors, on 09 January 2018 - 08:28 PM, said:

It's fairly common on this forum to see people asking about the average golfer when trying to do some type of comparison. Have you ever seen anyone ask how far the average golfer drives the ball? ...

...Back in the early 1940's, the US Air Force measured the bodily dimensions of 4000 pilots, 140 different ways. ...

Shortly thereafter, a fellah from Harvard came along and discovered how incredibly wrong it is to do such a thing. He discovered that not a single pilot from the group of 4000 met all 140 of the measurements. It begs the question, what good is the average when nobody actually IS average? .....

The short explanation is that we are all individuals that have our own unique way of not only learning, but also using our mind and body to do things. Golf instruction should probably follow along this guideline. There are no standard moves or standard actions that work for everyone. Because we are all unique, we need to be treated uniquely dependant upon our own tendencies and characteristics. ....

You are mixing up two topics, namely what good is average and the need to customize golf instruction to the individual. This intermingling is confusing.

First, let's take a look at the definition of average - there's more than one kind.

In the Air Force example, average is a statistic drawn from a representative sample of pilots. We use the sample statistics to make inferences about the population parameters (assumptions about the entire population). An average is meant to show the central tendencies of the sample.

As an example, let's use something closer to home: the results of the Hero World Challenge.
HeroWC_stat.jpg

One average is the mean, the 281.3 figure in gold highlight. This the arithmetic average of the total scores - add the scores, and divide by 18.
A second average is the median, which is the midpoint of the values displayed from high to low value. The two players tied for 9th place both shot a 280, or -8.
A third average is the mode. This is the value with the highest count; in this case, we have a bimodal distribution: Three players each at 277 and 288.
Fowler and Koepka would be considered outliers: subjects with extreme high and low values compared to the overall sample.

In golf, the industry uses averages to determine the concentration of players with different swing and physical characteristics. My brother got fitted for clubs recently, and the fitter told him he was made for golf: a 34" sleeve length, and 5-foot-9 tall. For most companies, their average lie and length clubs fit a lot of people from 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-1 tall.

Without averages and charting population trends, each golf club is an individual craft manufacturing task.

Golf Instruction.
Teaching people to play golf works best if you start with some general principles, and then tweak them to the characteristics of the individual.

Now Smash maintains that There are no standard moves or standard actions that work for everyone. I tend to disagree. Again, different golf instruction methods have general principles they work with, and then offer tweaks so individuals can adjust these concepts to their own physique and swing.

For example, the 5SK system maintains that there are five simple keys which are present in almost all successful golf swings. We are talking about five factors, not 140 from the USAF study.
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#17 NJpatbee

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:52 PM

View PostNJpatbee, on 10 January 2018 - 10:34 AM, said:

In discussing golf statistics (or any other type of statistic) the "average" is the least meaningful of the measurements.  We do not call people "median" golfers, but the median score or driving distance are more accurate measurements of a group of golfers.  That being said, for myself an "average" golfer is someone who is not a low dingle digit handicap or better, but some one who plays a reasonable amateur game shooting between 80 and 95 (roughly).  I look at "average" as a fairly wide window of ability.

OK, I meant single! (Tough crowd)

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#18 Ferguson

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 01:02 PM

View Postdisco111, on 10 January 2018 - 11:54 AM, said:

One thing I do know is that the older you get, the lower the dingles get.............. :WTF: :cheesy:


I knew a guy with DLD.  Distended Low Dingles.

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#19 SNIPERBBB

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:03 PM

Average is such a useless statistic. A couple weeks into a stats class is all you need to learn that.
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#20 Smash Factors

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:06 PM

View PostChipNRun, on 10 January 2018 - 12:21 PM, said:

You are mixing up two topics, namely what good is average and the need to customize golf instruction to the individual. This intermingling is confusing.

I don't see what's so confusing about this.

Recent university studies have shown that when you design an educational environment around instructing people based upon their own individual needs, nearly everyone in the class scores at the top of the grading scale.

One university study took a group of 30 people and taught them a subject they knew nothing about in a traditional classroom environment just like the one you and I had when we went to high school.

They also took a separate group of 30 people and taught them the same subject in a classroom environment where each student was allowed as much time as they needed on any part of the instruction. It was catered to their own individual needs.

The total time for both courses was the same (30 days I think), but the 2nd group was allowed to use that time as they pleased.

At the end of the course, roughly 25% of the students in the first group scored above 85% on the final exam.

In the 2nd group, 90% of the students scored above 85% on the same test.

The reason this happens is because the traditional educational environment is based upon how an "Average" person learns. Only now are scientists learning that few people actually learn within these average parameters.

The story of how averages became the norm of society is unbelievable. It goes back to the work of a man in the mid 1800's named Adolphe Quetelet (Kettle-Lay). He was an astronomer who wondered if a science could be developed to manage society. He thought that because astronomers used averages to make predictions about the movement of the stars, that averages could also be used to make predictions about people. His ideas were praised by basically every great, scientific mind from his era. As a result, averages have become the primary tool for everything in society from education to our professional lives. While it has been useful in many ways, studies are now showing that this devotion to averages actually does a very good job at one thing in particular.....hiding the true characteristics of our own individuality.

View PostChipNRun, on 10 January 2018 - 12:21 PM, said:

In golf, the industry uses averages to determine the concentration of players with different swing and physical characteristics. My brother got fitted for clubs recently, and the fitter told him he was made for golf: a 34" sleeve length, and 5-foot-9 tall. For most companies, their average lie and length clubs fit a lot of people from 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-1 tall.

A lot of people?

Average loft, lie and length is a good place to start, but few people actually require those standard dimensions. I'd like to hear from a club fitter as to how many people he's fit over the years that actually needed standard clubs. I assume that most, if not all people have had some type of modification to standard clubs.

View PostChipNRun, on 10 January 2018 - 12:21 PM, said:

Now Smash maintains that There are no standard moves or standard actions that work for everyone. I tend to disagree. Again, different golf instruction methods have general principles they work with, and then offer tweaks so individuals can adjust these concepts to their own physique and swing.

I agree. That's a good way of putting it. That being said, you don't lay down a blueprint for instruction and teach everyone in the same way. We need to be taught according to our own tendencies.

Edited by Smash Factors, 10 January 2018 - 04:09 PM.

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Some random 3 wood
My same, old irons
A few wedges...
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#21 bigfatant

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:26 PM

View PostChipNRun, on 10 January 2018 - 12:21 PM, said:

As an example, let's use something closer to home: the results of the Hero World Challenge.

You do realise you've used the averages and mean of players who played the best for the year?
Do you really want to know WITB? Oh ok (talk about peer pressure!)
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#22 sdandrea

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:42 PM

View Postzebra2955, on 10 January 2018 - 09:54 AM, said:

So does the average golfer wear jeans with his shirt untucked ?

That's the average "bubba"  :taunt:
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#23 Hit 'Em Straight

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:49 PM

But my canned response to inquiries into the nature of my game is:  "Average, probably a little less."

Guess that's out the window.

Perhaps I'll need to try on the more esoteric, "I golf, therefore I am."

And then win the first couple of holes while people try to figure out if I'm batty or maybe just feel bad about taking money from a silly liberal arts major.

Edited by Hit 'Em Straight, 10 January 2018 - 07:49 PM.


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#24 Medic

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:31 PM

If no such thing as an "average golfer" exists then this would also mean, that because this would be the base measure, there is also no such thing as above or below average.

In other words there are just golfers. We are all the same.
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#25 naval2006

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:58 PM

Average is Golf Digest lingo for duffer


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#26 PowderedToastMan

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:07 PM

Sounds like something an average golfer would say.
Former professional golfer. Current amateur human being. Reformed club ho.

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PING. Lots of PING.

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#27 MtlJeff

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:21 PM

View PostSNIPERBBB, on 10 January 2018 - 04:03 PM, said:

Average is such a useless statistic. A couple weeks into a stats class is all you need to learn that.

I think if you understand the limitations and variables it can be useful. But obviously the larger the sample size the better. And also knowing the median helps a great deal.

One great example i read was Bill Gates walking onto a bus with 100 people on it, and what it does to the average wealth of the bus. You need to know the median too

I think averages help, Golf OEMs i am sure use average swing speed and launch characteristics to come up with their stock shaft offerings for example. And that is a very important aspect of selling clubs when many golfers do not get fit
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#28 Medic

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:26 PM

View PostMtlJeff, on 10 January 2018 - 09:21 PM, said:


One great example i read was Bill Gates walking onto a bus with 100 people on it, and what it does to the average wealth of the bus. You need to know the median too


Public service can be fiscally cruel. If I'm on the bus with Bill it'll bring that average back down to reason.

: )

Seriously, as usual, great reply Jeff.
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#29 MtlJeff

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:37 PM

View PostMedic, on 10 January 2018 - 09:26 PM, said:

View PostMtlJeff, on 10 January 2018 - 09:21 PM, said:

One great example i read was Bill Gates walking onto a bus with 100 people on it, and what it does to the average wealth of the bus. You need to know the median too


Public service can be fiscally cruel. If I'm on the bus with Bill it'll bring that average back down to reason.

: )

Seriously, as usual, great reply Jeff.

It's crazy because even the first time i read the book you can't possibly fathom the result. I think the average would still be a net worth of 800 million dollars if everyone else on the bus was worth 50K LOL...Small sample sizes can just get killed by outliers

Another question asked was "How much does the average actor get paid", and your initial reaction is that they are very well paid. But there are so many actors (most of whom serve you coffee) that it does even out, and the average isn't much different than many other professions.

Both just good examples of keeping things in perspective
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#30 Medic

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:43 PM

View PostMtlJeff, on 10 January 2018 - 09:37 PM, said:

View PostMedic, on 10 January 2018 - 09:26 PM, said:

View PostMtlJeff, on 10 January 2018 - 09:21 PM, said:

One great example i read was Bill Gates walking onto a bus with 100 people on it, and what it does to the average wealth of the bus. You need to know the median too


Public service can be fiscally cruel. If I'm on the bus with Bill it'll bring that average back down to reason.

: )

Seriously, as usual, great reply Jeff.

It's crazy because even the first time i read the book you can't possibly fathom the result. I think the average would still be a net worth of 800 million dollars if everyone else on the bus was worth 50K LOL...Small sample sizes can just get killed by outliers

Another question asked was "How much does the average actor get paid", and your initial reaction is that they are very well paid. But there are so many actors (most of whom serve you coffee) that it does even out, and the average isn't much different than many other professions.

Both just good examples of keeping things in perspective

Used to love reading articles all about Gates. His thoughts on business, management and success.

Years ago he was asked in a magazine article who he would hire, a guy with 10 years of real world experience and no degree. Or a guy with a Master's but no real world.

Paraphrasing...

"I can always send the guy with experience to school and he will immediately benefit me and my company. The guy with the degree will need at least 10 years to catch up with the other fella."

They summarized his thoughts - he would prefer experience over education because of its tangible value to the whole operation.

I always found this interesting. He truly seemed to value what someone had already accomplished in their lives regarding real world experiences.

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Odyssey Versa 9 34"
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