Success is Not Just Hard Work — Your Social Opportunities Could Shape your Future


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Success is Not Just Hard Work — Your Social Opportunities Could Shape your Future

"Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities." – Outliers: The Story of Success

What is Social Opportunity?

The theory that your social networks, environment and inherited status affect the opportunities that are presented to you.

  • Social opportunities can be things like:
    • Lifestyle and Culture
    • Access to Technology
    • Finances
    • Environment

Can education help kids surrounded by those who don't value it?
Can a child from a highly educated family be uneducated?

"Who we are cannot be separated from where we're from." – Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

Lifestyle and Culture: East Asian Education

It's common knowledge that East Asian children outperform Western children in school

Contributing Factors:

  • Cultural roots in Confucianism
  • Heavy value on education
  • Goal: to bring pride to their family
  • Always working toward perfection

These factors facilitate better learning through cultural belief, respect and social obedience:

  • Agricultural society
  • Long history of farming rice
  • Farming requires patience and cooperation
  • Rice farming is a long process

These factors facilitate better learning through cultural patience, hard work and community reliance

Access to Technology: Bill Gates

"People don't rise from nothing….It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't."

– Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

  • Bill Gates was born to an upper middle-class family in Seattle
  • Attended one of a handful of schools who had computer access in the 60's
  • Computer access in high schools from 1963 – today:

  • 1963: 1%
  • 1975: 55%
  • 1983: 75%
  • 1990's: 99%
  • 2000's: 100%

Because of this access:

  • He began programming at age 13
  • Built a program to direct scheduling for his whole school
  • He skipped class and neglected homework to spend time with the computer
  • 1974: Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft
  • 1985: Microsoft launched the first retail version of Windows

Access to Technology: Stephen Hawking

"It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success."– Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

  • Born in 1942 in Oxford, England, where he also attended University College
  • After college, Stephen studied cosmology at Cambridge University and gained his Ph.D
  • At age 21, Stephen was diagnosed with ALS. The disease eventually left him paralyzed and unable to speak
  • In 1997 Intel sponsored a computerized system to enable Stephen's communication
  • This computer is a tablet which interacts is an interface mounted on Stephen's glasses. With it, he is able to operate his whole computer, give lectures, use text-to-voice, and even Skype.
  • Stephen's accomplishment's prior to his diagnosis allowed him access to this new technology. This type of innovation has allowed him to continue his research in the field of cosmology.

Tip for success: Keep your eyes open for opportunities and embrace them with gusto!



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