• Late Bloomers

  • The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement
  • By: Rich Karlgaard
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (651 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking exploration of how finding one's way later in life can be an advantage to long-term achievement and happiness.

“What Yogi Berra observed about a baseball game - it ain't over till it's over - is true about life, and [Late Bloomers] is the ultimate proof of this.... It’s a keeper.” (Forbes)

We live in a society where kids and parents are obsessed with early achievement, from getting perfect scores on SATs to getting into Ivy League colleges to landing an amazing job at Google or Facebook - or even better, creating a start-up with the potential to be the next Google, Facebook or Uber. We see coders and entrepreneurs becoming millionaires or billionaires before age 30 and feel we are failing if we are not one of them.

Late bloomers, on the other hand, are undervalued - in popular culture, by educators and employers, and even unwittingly by parents. Yet the fact is a lot of us - most of us - do not explode out of the gates in life. We have to discover our passions, talents, and gifts. That was true for author Rich Karlgaard, who had a mediocre academic career at Stanford (which he got into by a fluke) and after graduating, worked as a dishwasher and night watchman before finally finding the inner motivation and drive that ultimately led him to start up a high-tech magazine in Silicon Valley and eventually to become the publisher of Forbes magazine.

There is a scientific explanation for why so many of us bloom later in life. The executive function of our brains doesn't mature until age 25 - and later for some. In fact, our brain's capabilities peak at different ages. We actually enjoy multiple periods of blooming in our lives. Moreover, late bloomers enjoy hidden strengths because they take their time to discover their way in life - strengths coveted by many employers and partners - including curiosity, insight, compassion, resilience, and wisdom. 

Based on several years of research, personal experience, and interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists, and countless people at different stages of their careers, Late Bloomers reveals how and when we achieve our full potential.

Praise for Late Bloomers

“The underlying message that we should ‘consider a kinder clock for human development’ is a compelling one.” (Financial Times)

Late Bloomers spoke to me deeply as a parent of two millennials and as a coach to many new college grads (the children of my friends and associates). It’s a bracing tonic for the anxiety they are swimming through, with a facts-based approach to help us all calm down.” (Robin Wolaner, founder of Parenting magazine) 

©2019 Rich Karlgaard (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“I’m tempted to say this book was long overdue, but the truth is that it couldn’t come at a better time. Rich Karlgaard makes a commanding case against the wunderkind ideal, in favor of recognizing that late bloomers often prove to be the most radiant. If you’ve ever known someone who was overlooked or underestimated - or been that someone - you’ll immediately appreciate the importance of this message. Reading it is an utter delight.” (Adam Grant, New York Times best-selling author of Originals and Give and Take)

“Despite Aesop’s warnings, our society still admires the hare more than the tortoise. We deify those who burst out of life’s starting blocks and disdain those who take time to find their pace. But that’s a colossal mistake, says Rich Karlgaard in his powerful new book. Drawing on a deep reservoir of science, Karlgaard shows that many of us - perhaps most of us - peak well after our wunderkind years as we acquire the wisdom, resilience, and equanimity necessary for genuine achievement. Deftly written and deeply researched, Late Bloomers will change the conversation about success in America.” (Daniel H. Pink, author of When and Drive

“Our culture exalts youthful brilliance over mature achievement. Talent often flourishes later in life, when experience brings wisdom.... The institutions and organizations that dominate so much our lives should pay heed.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Featured Article: Head to Head—Competing Advice for How to Succeed


When trying to reach a goal or make a lifestyle change, it’s tempting to latch on to the advice of the first expert who promises to have all the answers. Dig a little deeper though, and you might find that the opposite of what you first heard may have been what you needed all along. To find the advice that works best for you, we’ve rounded up a list of top self-development books with competing messages to help you advance your personal journey.

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That phrase does not mean what you think it means

Late bloomers here ends up referring to anyone who achieves significant financial success after their early twenties. There's little discussion of anyone "blooming" in any other way, and most examples are actually incredible successes by 40. In fact, almost all examples throughout the book are anomalies and outliers at the extreme high end of success, and a large chunk of the book revolves around top-tier performance at the most elite (and expensive) colleges.

Throughout the book the author makes pronouncements about how late bloomers are especially resilient, or curious, or a dozen other descriptors without providing any backing studies or data. Practically anything positive is associated with late bloomers, apparently because of the author's personal identification as such. The book comes across as a bitter justification for the author's "late" success - which he posits began for him at the ancient age of 26 - and why he's really better than the "early bloomers" who achieve multi-millionaire status in their teens or soon after.

While there are some interesting gems scattered throughout the book, and several ideas that could each have made for an interesting book on their own, Late Bloomers is unfortunately a disappointing mess which fails to prove the author's assertions.

16 people found this helpful

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Not self-help...but super effin’ helpful

Oh, wow. This book spoke to me on a level that no other has done to this point. The timing could not have been any better, too. My girlfriend is one of the “early bloomers” discussed in the book; scored 1580 combined on her SAT, accepted to Harvard...twice, and has done everything “the right way.” She hasn’t so much as received a traffic ticket, even. I, on the other hand, have had some experiences. I was a mediocre student with flashes of brilliance in areas I really liked and I easily dismissed subjects I didn’t care for, scored slightly above average on my SAT, graduated in the top quarter, and got into my first choice of university: the illustrious University of North Texas! Flunked our after my freshman year with a 1.75 GPA. Joined the Navy and did that for seven years...and I couldn’t even do that right: was discharged under “other than honorable” conditions. Worked in various sales jobs until I came into residential property management and I finally found something that I was both good at and enjoyed. And guess what? I messed that up, too. After becoming an “adult,” I would find myself in the pokey at least once a year for unpaid traffic tickets. I had a horrible temper. I was incredibly stubborn. I was clearly my own worst enemy.

Fast forward to about three years ago and, shortly after deciding to go back to school once I found out that I was still eligible for my Montgomery GI benefits, I met my superstar girlfriend. She took interest in me but until just recently I was constantly worried that I wasn’t good enough for her due to her academic prowess and her faultless life. I believed her when she told me that my past snafus were not indicative of who I am and what I am capable of, especially considering the fact that I decided to go back to school to pursue a career in law, but because she was the “other,” her credibility wasn’t sufficient; I always felt as if her and those of her ilk were always secretly judging my every move and word, linking it back to my history of failure and surreptitiously casting me aside.

All of these feelings have negatively impacted my academic performance - not as badly as the first time, but I’m not doing myself any favors by squeaking out Bs and a few As, especially considering that my top choice of law school is one where Bs as an undergrad is...well, I fear that my application will literally be laughed at upon receipt by admissions officials. I even started telling myself that becoming a lawyer isn’t for me because I’m too stupid for it. Then I heard of this book on NPR and figured it was worth listening to; I certainly felt as if I fall into the “late bloomer” category so maybe I could find some areas that relate to me and use them as sources of motivation. I didn’t expect the ENTIRE book to be relevant. I finished the audiobook in one setting and I walked away with a confidence that had been dormant for 37 years. I’m going to listen to it again and again until every single point is essentially committed to memory.

This isn’t a word I use to describe many books, but this one is more than deserving of the distinction: liberating.

42 people found this helpful

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Still listening but…

So far this is less about late bloomers and more about early bloomers and their falls from great heights and the systems that are pressuring young people to achieve early. I was hoping the focus here would actually be on late bloomers, but the content is interesting and the narrator is good for the subject matter.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Inspirational

Nice inspirational piece with some neuro science backup as to why it's ok and sometimes better that you haven't accomplished anything into your 30's, 40's, or even beyond. There's still time to bloom, and your experience and wisdom may make it easier and more enjoyable.

14 people found this helpful

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Impressive and inspirational

This book far exceeded my expectations. I read or listen to between 15 to 20 non-fiction books a year and this one stands out as one of the best of the last decade. I liked it so much I purchased a hardcover version for my personal collection so I can lend it out to friends and relatives. A great book for anyone dreaming of realizing their full potential.

4 people found this helpful

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Solid

The second half of the book, particularly the last two chapters, had some phenomenal, uplifting content.

The author put his heart into it. It’s definitely worth the read. The first chapter was a little too strong on the thesis that we’re obsessed with early achievers. His point is well researched but the best tone for the book came later. So expect gold later in the book.

Thank you for this fine piece of work, Mr. Karlgaard.

4 people found this helpful

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A Thoughtful Important Work

The first third is fairly redundant and perhaps full of too many anecdotes. But his point is well taken. The book really begins to enrich once we hear the authors piercing insights and observations in the second half, after getting through everything that is wrong with the world in the first.

This is one of those books that is worth coming back to again and again. So full of wisdom, it would be nearly impossible to absorb and live out everything in its pages.

Worth listening, reading, highlighting, etc. I read a lot of books from a similar vane. Most are crap. I'm looking for gems like this.

2 people found this helpful

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Good read for late bloomers

Such a timely book that really breaks down what it means to be a late bloomer in the 21st-century. I like how the author use lots of examples of late bloomers from the past and the present. The writing is very relatable. Grab a tissue. You might find yourself written in the pages of this book in seeing how you’ve experienced your own late blooming life within the last few chapters. Timely. Relevant. And a destigmatizes being a late bloomer, and I love that.

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  • DK
  • 04-13-21

Liberating... Years of Regret Gone

Fantastic book! I recommend it for anyone who has a force within them driving them to do more, but also driving them to stress and unnecessary distraction, for lost days and a sense I should be “there” already.

1 person found this helpful

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Food for thought

It definitely comes off more scholarly than not. But if you can take the dryer presentation, the content is quite enlightening and presents a new scope for viewing the world and specifically the American cult of early success.

1 person found this helpful