The Biggest Loser

Before I launch into dissecting my first patent litigation case, I'm thinking that a little more needs to be said about my own qualifications for doing so. As I've noted in previous posts, assessing the quality of a patent is a skill demanding tripartite expertise: law, business, and technology.

I have expertise in these three areas. Actually, my expertise goes well beyond law, business, and technology. Hence the term "Polymath" in the name of our company.

But "Jack" in the company name arises from the answer to the following question: How does one acquire expertise in such a wide diversity of fields at such a relatively young age (48 as of this year)?

Answer: By being the Biggest Loser.

Explanation: I was a pretty good computer scientist. Graduated in the top 1% of my undergraduate class. Did a Masters, and, recently, developed a few websites. (I was even a Rhodes Scholar finalist back in the day.) But no company today would hire me as a head of development. (And I didn't get the Rhodes.) In terms of technology, I'm a hack.

I was pretty good law student and lawyer. Graduated in the top 10% of my Stanford Law class, clerked on the 9th Circuit, and worked for Fenwick & West in various IP legal matters in various capacities. But no law firm today would recruit me as the head partner of their IP department. In terms of IP law, I'm a hack.

I was a reasonably useful business guy. Held various strategic and business development roles within startups, big companies, and R&D units. But no company today would recruit me as CEO. In terms of business, I'm a hack.

I was a pretty good basketball player. Played on my national team. Played professionally in Europe. But I played only one year on each, and I never played in an Olympics nor in the NBA. Meaning? In terms of basketball, I was a hack.

I might well be the healthiest 48-year-old that you know. I measured my resting pulse the other morning upon waking -- it was 38. My body fat is 12%. Blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol readings are all optimal. In fact, virtually all 50 of my annual blood test readings are excellent. None of this is an accident of my genes. But nobody today would hire me as their health guru. In terms of personal health, I'm a hack.

I'm the inventor of a model linking the Enneagram theory of human personality with emergent findings in neuroscience. Personally speaking, I believe this work is my greatest yet, in any domain. Put simply, I think I've stumbled upon a core, eternal, truth about humans (and all vertebrates). But nobody wanted to publish my book, and very few have exhibited interest in this work. In terms of the neuroscience of personality, I'm a hack.

I could go on here. But you're starting to get the picture, I hope. The answer to how one becomes a passable polymath is by attacking new fields long enough to achieve reasonable mastery, but then leaving the field well before the brass ring looms on the horizon.

[Digression: I re-read this list and wonder if I suffer from lifelong brass-ring-o-phobia.]

Sometimes, my clients ask me: "Do you know anyone else who can do this work that you do for us?"

I answer that I don't know any. I haven't met any other losers who are as big a loser as I am. I mean, I've met losers who are proficient in a couple of fields. That's pretty common.

But rare is the loser with a list the likes of mine. :)