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IYO, what is the #1 driver of professional success?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by gdl203, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. TheDarkKnight

    TheDarkKnight Senior member

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    It helps to be a nearsighted Asian. It seems no matter how many times I fuck my job up or get caught slacking, they don't seem to want to believe that I am stupid/lazy/incompetent, and so they keep promoting me.

    Haha, people's perception can certainly work in one's favour.
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    I don't recall seeing this in the poal choices, or in the responses (though I didn't read them all), but it seems to me that there are a lot of contributing factors listed in the poal, but more than anything else it comes to attitude / persistence.

    Of the successful people I've known and admired, I don't recall a single one accepting 'no' as a valid answer. Same with 'can't' - they hate hearing those words from their subordinates, and have all but stricken them from their own vocabulary (well, until you ask them for a raise, but that's a whole different story).

    "Don't tell me why you can't do something - tell me how you will do it."
     
  3. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Senior member

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    Most "successful" people I've met were not what I would consider intelligent.

    These people were usually a combination of shrewd ambition, which is a particularly odious duo. One always has to watch out for the shrewdly ambitious sons of bitches.


    I'd agree with this. Intelligence is no guarantee of success, and past a certain threshold, can actually be detrimental in the professional world. Anti-intellectualism is rampant in American culture. Just as it was on the playground in elementary school, so it is in the corporate world. Furthermore, a lot of really smart people tend to become cynical or burned out after experiencing a few setbacks in their careers. They don't have the same "Aww shucks, well, everything happens for a reason, so I won't dwell on this!" attitude that their slightly dumber peers will have.

    Success is basically:

    a) 50% luck
    b) 25% work ethic, and
    c) 25% positive attitude.

    It's exceedingly difficult for the truly smart to maintain C when they first realize how much more important A is than B, and this becomes a self-defeating cycle.
     
  4. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    When I think of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet I really dont think 'slightly dumb'. Neither were ones to climb the corporate ladder however, they did it their own way.

    People who are really into what they're doing network well, because they like to talk about it and they have something interesting to say. When I was into cars and auto racing heavily it didnt take long to start meeting significant people because I had something to bring to the table and they wanted to meet with me.

    I'm certain when guys like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet were at the beginning of their careers they were the same way, totally obsessed.
     
  5. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Senior member

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    When I think of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet I really dont think 'slightly dumb'. Neither were ones to climb the corporate ladder however, they did it their own way.

    Well, yeah. But in the case of Gates, there was quite a bit of luck involved. His mother had connections out the wazoo, which were critical to his success. He also lucked into access to top-notch computing facilities in high school which were ordinarily unavailable to students like him. I'm not saying he's not smart, but he had a lot of very lucky breaks.

    Now, granted, my previous post was more about success climbing the corporate ladder. If you want to talk about entrepreneurs, that's a different story. Luck still plays a huge part, though. Arguably an even bigger part.
     
  6. millionaire75

    millionaire75 Senior member

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    Agree with what everyone said regarding luck. Plays a very big part.
     
  7. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    No surprises that it takes the perfect combination of personality traits, 'luck' if you call it that, and ambition to become one of the richest people in the world.

    There are many rags to riches stories out there of people who didnt have 'luck' in terms of what they were born into but still managed to become quite successful.

    Having good inter-personal skills is key and something a lot of Phd's dont have, the ones that do however become more successful because of it.
     
  8. TheDarkKnight

    TheDarkKnight Senior member

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    more than anything else it comes to attitude / persistence.

    Of the successful people I've known and admired, I don't recall a single one accepting 'no' as a valid answer. Same with 'can't'


    Actually I just posted about attitude, 2 posts or so above you. It's good to see my thoughts are read [​IMG]

    "Intelligence is no guarantee of success, and past a certain threshold, can actually be detrimental in the professional world."

    I agree with this and also Skinny's "Having good inter-personal skills is key and something a lot of Phd's dont have"

    Too much intelligence is limiting for a number of reasons as you stated AB, and also because of the lack of inter personal skills that often come with it.

    Incidentally, for those with young children, or planning them, do these traits factor into your upbringing for them?

    I don't want my future children to become a "project" but equally I want to do my best to make sure they have the essential life skills of Attitude, Confidence and Inter personal skills.
     
  9. TheDarkKnight

    TheDarkKnight Senior member

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    more than anything else it comes to attitude / persistence.

    Of the successful people I've known and admired, I don't recall a single one accepting 'no' as a valid answer. Same with 'can't' - they hate hearing those words from their subordinates, and have all but stricken them from their own vocabulary (well, until you ask them for a raise, but that's a whole different story).

    "Don't tell me why you can't do something - tell me how you will do it."


    Incidentally this can be absolutely self taught, and can counter an upbringing which didn't foster it.

    I read some excellent sales and marketing books which taught me excellent principles. These books plus self employment taught me to use them and refine them.

    It is almost like self taught Cognitive behavioural therapy, but really, just excellent thought processes.

    Everytime I hit a problem or make a bad mistake, I sit down and evaluate what I did wrong, how I could do it better in future, and how I can turn it into a great result right now.

    With a bit of practice it becomes second nature.

    Now when the shit hits the fan, and most people get drunk and give up, I immediately think "how can I turn this into a great result" and think through how I can do this.

    I also rarely carry bad baggage for previous poor decisions, as I know I have learnt from these past mistakes, so they are far from failures.
     
  10. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Senior member

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    There are many rags to riches stories out there of people who didnt have 'luck' in terms of what they were born into but still managed to become quite successful.
    There are surprisingly fewer of those stories than you might think, actually. I say surprisingly, because I too once thought as you did on this issue. When you peel back the layers on most "rags to riches" stories (professional athletics aside), quite a few common factors tend to emerge: family connections, luck of being born in certain parts of certain time periods, middle to upper-middle-class beginnings (hardly "rags" as we commonly think of them), special access to a key resource that was not afforded to peers in similar circumstances, and strong mentor figures willing to take chances on the up-and-comer. All of these stars had to align at precisely the right times. That's not to discount the role of intelligence or hard work, obviously. You can get all the lucky breaks in the world and be a total idiot, and your idiocy will prevail over your good fortune. But conversely, you can be really bright, really well socialized, really hard working, and really unlucky -- and because of that bad luck (or really, lack of extraordinary luck), you will not succeed. "Luck" is a pretty tough thing to nail down, and I take it by your insistence on using the term in quotation marks that you agree. That said, as hard as it is to describe exactly what "luck" is, its role cannot be overlooked. Indeed, its role has proven -- time and again, in almost all great success stories in American history -- to be critical. By no means a comprehensive analysis on the importance of luck in "rags to riches" success, but certainly a good starting point, is Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. It's a quick, easy, and enlightening read about the true nature of success and the American Dream. Like I said: it's by no means the be-all, end-all discussion on the topic. But it's eye opening in a lot of respects.
     
  11. Deluks917

    Deluks917 Senior member

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    "Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race"

    -Calvin Coolidge
     
  12. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    There are surprisingly fewer of those stories than you might think, actually. I say surprisingly, because I too once thought as you did on this issue. When you peel back the layers on most "rags to riches" stories (professional athletics aside), quite a few common factors tend to emerge: family connections, luck of being born in certain parts of certain time periods, middle to upper-middle-class beginnings (hardly "rags" as we commonly think of them), special access to a key resource that was not afforded to peers in similar circumstances, and strong mentor figures willing to take chances on the up-and-comer. All of these stars had to align at precisely the right times. That's not to discount the role of intelligence or hard work, obviously. You can get all the lucky breaks in the world and be a total idiot, and your idiocy will prevail over your good fortune. But conversely, you can be really bright, really well socialized, really hard working, and really unlucky -- and because of that bad luck (or really, lack of extraordinary luck), you will not succeed.

    I agree, though I think this thread needs to makes the distinction between professional success in the structured, corporate, or professional setting, and just plain business success in entrepreneurship. The former, i.e. lawyers, doctors, or other degreed professionals, are highly dependent on hard work and generally the harder the work the 'better' you'll do (though, slaving away in some crappy city trying to 'make partner' is not 'better', IMHO). The latter however is highly dependent on luck and the cause of the American phenomena of huge amounts of idiots that stumbled into mass amounts of wealth, who assume they're geniuses because of it. As a lawyer trying to set up his own practice, I get a little of both and I can appreciate the courage it takes to be an entrepreneur, though I'm certainly not going to get some fanciful ideas like Mitt Romney that I'm running a noble "enterprise" that puts me into some high caste or wherever he imagines himself to be.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    Incidentally this can be absolutely self taught, and can counter an upbringing which didn't foster it.

    I read some excellent sales and marketing books which taught me excellent principles. These books plus self employment taught me to use them and refine them.

    It is almost like self taught Cognitive behavioural therapy, but really, just excellent thought processes.

    Everytime I hit a problem or make a bad mistake, I sit down and evaluate what I did wrong, how I could do it better in future, and how I can turn it into a great result right now.

    With a bit of practice it becomes second nature.

    Now when the shit hits the fan, and most people get drunk and give up, I immediately think "how can I turn this into a great result" and think through how I can do this.

    I also rarely carry bad baggage for previous poor decisions, as I know I have learnt from these past mistakes, so they are far from failures.


    I think it can be self-taught, from an academic perspective - but I think most people lack the courage or willpower to look themselves in the eye and face reality. We all tend to slant things into our favor, and very few people in general will be truly objective when it comes to their shortcomings.
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    Actually I just posted about attitude, 2 posts or so above you. It's good to see my thoughts are read [​IMG]

    (...)
    Incidentally, for those with young children, or planning them, do these traits factor into your upbringing for them?

    I don't want my future children to become a "project" but equally I want to do my best to make sure they have the essential life skills of Attitude, Confidence and Inter personal skills.


    Well, I read it but also wanted it to encompass the unyielding attitude of getting what you want by any means necessary. A lot of people want something, some will work hard to get it, but I think few will really throw their weight around to pursue it - hoping to avoid 'hard feelings' or bad karma. I know a few people like this: not always the most pleasant people to be around much less work for, but they get results. Lots of collateral damage along the way as well, but such is the price of making omelettes.

    As for upbringing, I'm making it a point to 1) live by example, and b) accept no excuses. Unfortunately this also means I can't make excuses for myself, either, which is a tough discipline but no one ever said this sort of thing was easy.
     
  15. r...

    r... Senior member

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    Am I the only one here who thinks the views expressed on "luck" and its importance are borderline absudist? 50 years ago you couldnt have coco krispies for breakfast. This day in age a farmer milks a cow sending that off to some homogenization plant; while in a factory some towns away some machinery is toasting rice grains and adding some "chocolate flavored substance" as some lady in a hairnet watches. The milk is bottled and sent to grocery store where it will sit a couple isles from that aforementioned rice cereal after its been weighed, bagged, and boxed. Meanwhile after making the trip to the grocers I managed not get myself killed by either purposeful action or sheer randomness. The Breakfast Stars have aligned it would seem. How "lucky" am I be eating coco krispies this morning?

    I think Einstein felt the same why about miracles.

    ...
    As for upbringing, I'm making it a point to 1) live by example, and b) accept no excuses. Unfortunately this also means I can't make excuses for myself, either, which is a tough discipline but no one ever said this sort of thing was easy.


    Good to read. This is key, a child's personality and how they relate to world is impacted more by how they see those around them behaving than by what those same people have to say about those behaviors. As a father I would classify success by raising a happy and well adjusted individual who is equipped to navigate this world better than I. Another smaller success but just as important is keeping her off the stripper pole.
     
  16. gdl203

    gdl203 Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    Am I the only one here who thinks the views expressed on "luck" and its importance are borderline absudist? 50 years ago you couldnt have coco krispies for breakfast. This day in age a farmer milks a cow sending that off to some homogenization plant; while in a factory some towns away some machinery is toasting rice grains and adding some "chocolate flavored substance" as some lady in a hairnet watches. The milk is bottled and sent to grocery store where it will sit a couple isles from that aforementioned rice cereal after its been weighed, bagged, and boxed. Meanwhile after making the trip to the grocers I managed not get myself killed by either purposeful action or sheer randomness. The Breakfast Stars have aligned it would seem. How "lucky" am I be eating coco krispies this morning?
    Fun but this has pretty much nothing to do with the topic of this thread or the ideas people expressed about what makes a particular individual more successful professionally than some of his peers.
     
  17. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    greg,

    last week I spent some time with some family. one group of cousins inherited a shitload of money, one group got nothing (one brother married a rich girl, one didn't).

    of the "rich" cousins, one is a very successful person in finance, one is a proffetional poet and lecturer at a good school, one is a high school teacher after "retiring" from the high tech world, one is bankrupt at 40 after trying to run a business that made no sense.

    of the "poor" cousins, one made 240K or so last year, one 100, one 80. the two that made less money also have less comfortable home lives, and are less secure in their proffetional careers.


    how much money each has isn't really the indicator of how successful they are, there are different ways to messure success. I would say that within the two seperate groups of cousins, making mature decisions and working hard are directly related to how successful each was. luck had nothing to do with it, aside from the obvious of being born into a capitalist society, as middle class (or better) white people.
     
  18. gdl203

    gdl203 Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    I guess my approach to the question is a bit biased by my job and a very particular mass recruiting process that brings 150 undergrad and grad school graduates every year and makes it fairly easy to track and compare the success of different people hired to do the same job.

    I think that factors outside one's control and in particular pure random chance of being assigned to a specific group or a specific project, tremendously impacts people's ability to succeed and surpass others. Of course hard work, work ethics, ambition, education, etc... are all factors that help someone do a better job and seize opportunities but at the end of the day, IMO, sheer luck is the #1 differentiator, particularly later in one's career - maybe not so much as a very junior worker, where all is needed to "perform" is putting in hard work.
     
  19. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    At one firm or in general? You can fail at one firm, move onto another and succeed there.
     
  20. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Senior member

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    You can fail at one firm, move onto another and succeed there.

    Only so many times you can do that over the course of a career. There's definitely such a thing as a serial entrepreneur who tries a hundred ideas, fails at all of them, and finally hits it big with idea #101. But a corporate climber who fails too many times at too many companies -- even for reasons beyond his control -- is going to be given fewer and fewer chances to redeem or reinvent himself.
     

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