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December 06, 2010


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"measured risk takers" and those personality types typically have to do w/ being an entrapeneur,... VERY hard work, MUCH longer hours than the vast majority are willing to work, often for low/little $$ early on and continued discipline with finances. Often "street smart" "B grade" type students that are "bored" with the center of the lane type careers and branch out to somethign different, a niche or working their PASSION, THAT all together gets them to those $$ levels...

Working hard is great but you have to work hard at the right things. If you are working hard at minimum wage you will not become wealthy without alot of luck.

I think the key here is developing good work ethic and study habits in school. It isn't necessarily the subject matter you learned, but the attitude and techniques you ingrained into yourself. I feel that hard work is a virtue that is learned. You might learn it yourself or someone might have to teach you how to do it, but you'd be surprised how many people don't know how to work hard or what work ethic really means.

Hard work is not a guarantee of wealth or we (my hubby and I) would be rolling in the stuff! Sometimes it just comes down to knowing the right people or catching a "lucky" break. It also might help if we didn't live in Michigan! Ha ha!

I learned the lesson about hard work and discipline in a slghtly different manner. You see, from grade school to high school, I was one of the kids who was the among the smartest/intellectually gifted/top of my class. School work always came easily to me to the point where for many classes I didn't have to exert that much effort. Needless to say, I didn't develop very good work habits because I didn't need to. I could just show up to class, listen to the teachers, and ace all of my tests.

However, everything changed when I went to college. I ended up going to a university which most people would consider to be competitive. Anyone who has been to college knows that professors aren't there to spoon-feed you the material. You are expected to put in most of the learning effort on your own with the professor guiding you. That coupled with the fact that my fellow students were all a cut above the student body at my high school led me really struggle my first semester. That first report card really opened up my eyes to the fact that I either had to buckle down and work, or I would be in deep trouble.

Rather than give up, I decided that I actually had to change my study habits and work if I ever wanted to stand a chance of keeping up with the pace. Over the next few years, I developed the work habits which I failed to attain while I was in high school, and I ended up graduating college with honors. That work ethic carried over into my professional career to the point where I would consider myself to be successful.

The lesson for me is that no matter what your level of giftedness (if that is a work), one factor in developing a strong work ethic is to push yourself and challenge yourself to the point where you can't get by on ability alone. In my case, going to the school that I went to (which happened to be a private college) played a pivotal role in my development of a strong work ethic. This particular school pushed me to the point where I had to work hard and not just skate by on ability. I don't want to reopen the whole "public vs private college" debate that raged on, but in my case, I firmly believe that going to the school that I went to was the right choice for me. That isn't to say that it is the right choice for everybody, because everybody's situation is different. However, everybody should keep that in mind when anyone gives you advice that attempts to be "one-size-fits-all".

"So the "hard work" needs to be channeled into the right venture -- into something that has the potential to get a good return for the effort put into it. Otherwise, all the hard work in the world is probably for naught."

This is SO SO SO TRUE. Thank you for noting that, FMF.

Honestly, I know more people that are well off because of hard work instead of high grades In fact, I recently blogged about a friend of my that was super smart and got a doctorate in Chemistry, but now works as a stockboy at a grocery store.

So it takes a mix of hard work, intelligence (at least to a degree), and the ability to see opportunities and take the necessary risk to try those opportunities (or so my one rich friend says...).

Note, my rich friend only has a networth between 5 and 10 million, so he doens't really qualify for that Stanley is talking about.

Most super wealthy people start their own business- "you never get rich working for someone else".

Starting your own business is actually a lot easier when you have nothing to lose, when your ships are burning on the shore, when failure really isnt an option. The motivation to work 'harder' is far greater.

When you have made great money working for someone else, its really hard to give that up, risk it all, and stick with it when you can always go back to making great money working for someone.

Most people who succeed at school and jumping through the hoops have multiple options so the opportunity costs are higher. They never had to work harder to get above average.

A+ students have a higher average income
C- students have a lower average but a higher standard divination/ fatter tails


Your post is very important. I knew of multiple B students in high school who got ACT and SAT scores that would put them into the Harvard elite. They clearly had the ability to be straight A students but were able to slide by with zero effort and get B's and chose to do so. I no longer know what happened to these people but unless they fixed their work ethic I am quite certain they didn't amount to much financially or any other way for that matter.

As an employer I would never hire a gifted person without work ethic. A minimum threshold of talent is required but once that is met, work ethic is the single most important factor (except maybe in fields like rocket science for which high intelligence is a must but for most things, super high intelligence is not necessary, but work ethic is critical).

However I also agree with others that work ethic is not enough. Some people seem to believe hard work will inevitably lead to success but you have to have enough street smarts to understand how to apply your hard work in ways that can lead to success. Some people don't really have a good sense for that either.

I was told in college that the C students would get farther in life than I would because they knew they had to work for it. My intelligence level was high, but the high that put me on the easier path and had me interested in too many things to pick and choose. They were right. I did fair in life and I feel I am okay. However, I got by on A's and B's and it was so easy that I never pushed myself to overachieve.

In fact, my satisfaction level is quite comfortable and I regret nothing. I have always had, as well as a lack of motivation, a lack of wanting a lot of things. If I had a good job, a happy family and the time to enjoy myself, I felt great. I guess I passed that on to my kids. As a youngster, my son was satisfied with a dime or a dollar or ten dollars in his pocket and only pushed to get enough to get by.

It takes all kinds in the world. I am a hard worker - at what I like to do, not at things I don't like to do. Ain't it grand that there are so many types of people to make up our world. God blesses us all in some way or another.


I totally agree that you have to channel the hard work in the right direction. Some lessons I've learned:

1. Busyness does not equal success.
2. Not everything I *can* do will lead to success.
3. Success isn't about doing enough things. It is about doing enough of the *right* things.


My wife and I emigrated from England in 1956 and had $400 when we got off the boat.
Now our investment income and net worth put us in the top 2% of people where we live in Silicon Valley, CA.

We were both very hard workers and volunteered for every assignment that came our way as well as working long hours. This alone would have provided a nice lifestyle and the comfortable and happy retirement that we have now had for 18 years but it wouldn't have been nearly enough to kick us up into the top 2%.
That only took place after we retired when I shifted from analyzing ICBMs and nuclear warheads to analyzing the behavior of the financial markets, writing financial software, and just happened to be in the right place, with the right basic computer and mathematical skills, at the right time, when the DOT.COM bubble started and we had some glorious years in the market, between December 1992 and March 2000.

Look at many of the super wealthy individuals, there's a lot of luck and good fortune in many of their successes. I live near where Apple, Google, HP, Intel, Oracle, Netflix, Yahoo, eBay, PayPal, and Facebook have their headquarters, and their founders are all prime examples.

Old Limey -

You've reminded me of two variations of a definition of luck:

Luck is when hard work meets opportunity.
Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.

I definitely was struggling to keep up in college vs many of my peers. Part of it was my bad high school but part of it was definitely that I had some brilliant friends.

The smartest know the ones who would brag that they were learning the material during the test that they aced, took years to find a decent job.

I guess I knew I needed to pull out all the stops to compete with some of them, so I did a co-op and worked overseas for a year. That instantly put me to the top of the class as far as hire-ability. I'm happy with the path I took and in hindsight I'm glad things didn't come so easy.


Thank you and I totally agree with you and others that hard work is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition to success. I have no aptitude for anything artistic. No matter how much hard work I put into painting a picture or carving a sculpture, I would not end up being a successful artist. You need to work hard but also have self-awareness about your talents.

MBTN: Funny you should use the example of Artist. This illustrates another point: Even if you're super-good at what you do, you have to be aware of your industry. There are THOUSANDS of amazing Artists out there who are super-talented and have worked hard, who are flipping burgers, simply because there are not enough art jobs to go around. There are more super-talented, hard-working artists than there is demand.

So being aware of Supply and Demand and positioning yourself in a career with lots of demand and little supply is another Key Factor to mega-wealth.

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