I spend a lot of time here in Austin in one of two Starbucks. One is right by UT and there is a cool college vibe there, and the other is near the Arboretum area, this sort of high-end area of Austin. At this second one, I always end up running into interesting people. This place is sort of an office-away-from-the-office. So I meet lots of entrepreneurs, retired people, readers, and people that are usually bored but interesting while getting coffee.
Today I ran into this retired cardiologist that has a ranch up in Round Rock. He was carrying a copy of Atlas Shrugged and he sat beside me. I set my business card on top of his book, without saying anything (my business card says “John Galt Games,” an open reference to the protagonist of the book he happened to be carrying.) He squinted at it and looked over and smiled at me, shaking the card in his hand. “Small world!” he said.
So that of course got us talking. He said his whole life people have been telling him to read Atlas Shrugged and he finally broke down to read it. He was amazed at the book and was excited to talk about it and all the parallels he saw in his life.
Then he looked out the window and quickly looked back at me and queried, “Have you read – ” and I cut him off and said, “The World is Flat? Yes, I have, of course.” He smiled again, shocked that I finished his sentence.
We then spent about an hour pouring over the overlaps between the two books, about India and China, about how to raise American kids, etc. He was lamenting about how lazy his kids are and how he knows they are way behind their peers in India and China. He knows they are gonna get killed by their peers in India and China, where it is seen as “cool” to be smart in school and to excel in business. In China and India, their heroes are Bill Gates from Microsoft and Geoff Yang from Yahoo. Here in the USA, the kids worship Britney Spears and Puff Daddy. He was very interested in all the time I have spent in Asia and was asking me for all sorts of child-raising advice. I told him I didn’t have any freakin’ idea… but it would certainly help to get out of the bubble of the USA.
Anyway, he was a cool guy to talk to for a few hours…