How to be successful

I’ve been a little behind on my reading lately, but thankfully I’ve totally gotten on board with audio books.  Honestly, they are so brilliant for walking to and from uni, and the gym!  I finally finished the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and highly recommend that one.  I’m currently reading another Sanderson – The Way of Kings.

But most recently I’ve branched out into non-fiction.  D loves books of all kinds so admittedly I feel a little guilty for reading novels almost exclusively.  So I asked him to recommend some engaging non-fiction.  I just finished Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, and what an enjoyable read.  It’s not super-sciencey, I would definitely call it light and possibly more anecdotal, but certainly not trivial.  I don’t want to ruin it for you because, well, you really should read it, but in order for me to discuss why I liked it, well, I need to say a little about it.  Here is its amazon description as an FYI.

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

Outliers really resonated with me because he talks a lot in early chapters about how when you were born may affect your success (which, admittedly is something I rather strive for and always have).  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my generation, and how I feel people my age are really at a disadvantage due to how old we were when the financial crisis hit.  Not that it didn’t affect everyone, it has.  But most people my age had just started working and were buying houses at the time of the housing bubble.  Many probably wanted to start families but have had to put it off because, well, times are tough.  I am trying to come to terms with the fact that my generation, my friends, will not be as well off as our parents were.  I mean, maybe we will be.  But I don’t think so.  Not to say that my parents (the baby boomers) were a privileged generation, but in a lot of ways they were.  I feel like because of my student loans and the fact that wages are not increasing at the same rate as inflation, and that people will probably keep their jobs longer (less freedom of upward mobility within organisations), and that comparatively, I just won’t make as much money as my parents, mostly due to inflation.  For many of their early years, my parents lived on one income.  My generation can barely get by on 2.  Rent/mortgages/gasoline is expensive.  And my generation has been trained to be consumers.  Yes, the generations below have been trained to be consumers as well, but my generation really does not understand the concept of going without.  Whereas, I know my parents who grew up in rural MN farms remember when times were tough.  It’s a little depressing to think about.

So as much as I may be willing to work hard, I sometimes feel as though I will never get ahead and be truly successful because of when I was born.  Of course, a massive student debt which I took out all on my own volition will probably affect my saving potential, but my education should, in theory, increase my earning potential.

Are you concerned about your future financial success?  Do you feel like the economic crisis has permanently affected your earning potential?  Do you think we’ll be as well off as our parents?


One thought on “How to be successful

  1. Sounds like an interesting read! Ryan reads a lot of books like this, as part of his continuing education as an independent business owner. One of the big things that he’s taken away from his reading is that successful people hang out with other successful people. If you want to be motivated, spend time with people who are motivated, etc. Kind of like learning by example I guess. As far as the economy goes, I personally have been affected jobwise (you know my story) and I do feel like people in my field especially have been restricted both by the number of opportunities out there (little) and the salaries/wage increases offered (minimum). While I do love my job, I’m partially motivated not to look for something else that may offer better compensation because I know how competitive it is out there and that it might take 6 months to a year of active searching to find a new job.

    My parents didn’t teach me much about managing finances, but luckily I have a frugal husband to keep me in check and take care of the money for me. Our biggest financial achievement has been our ability to live under our means and save, save, save!

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