Mail Room Hero
I have a friend of mine who is a CFO of a pretty big company. He recently explained to me how he came to be the owner of the company and I told him it was a fantastic story.
I told him that he should hire a ghostwriter to write a fictionalized version of it or actually a biography or maybe even make a movie out of it because of such a fantastic story.
They’ve been doing studies of twins for a long time, ever since the 50s. The reason they like to study twins is because twins gives them an insight into the old question of nurture versus nature. They can study a whole bunch of identical twins raised together and they can study whole bunch of identical twins raised apart.
Nurture Vs. Nature
This can give them an idea into what kind of factors create an adult personality. How much of those factors are genetic, nature and how much of those how many of those factors are nurture or environment. They have some very interesting and very clear results.
The problem is these results are not the kind results that people like to hear so they’re not really that popular but if you understand what they really mean it can be very inspiring no matter who you are.
There is an economist, Dr. Gregory Clark, who’s written a few books and one of them he wrote is called the Son Also Rises, the son, S-O-N also rises, and this book is a study of families over the past several hundred years.
He wanted to look at families because he was looking for any type of empirical historical data that would shine some kind of insight into whether or not genetics is responsible for wealth. So he studied these families in Europe and he studied these families in Asia for many generations to see if there is any kind of relationship between family names and wealth.
He found some startling results that could be very disheartening or they could be very encouraging depending on how you choose to interpret this data.
A very interesting book that was very popular a long time ago, and I think they even made it into a movie, was Freakonomics. Freakonomics was another book written by an economist and he looked at various interesting aspects of modern society but from the lens of economics. One of the things he looked at was the correlation between wealth and books.
Money And Books
Meaning that the higher someone’s income is, the more wealth they have, the more books they’ll tend to own. So there’s a very positive correlation between wealth and books, but the question is, is it that they started reading books and became wealthy, or did they buy books because they are wealthy, or is there some common variable that is driving both their wealth and their desire for books?
It could be one of those ideas were form follows function and function follows form. For example if you’re happy you’ll smile as result of your happiness but also if you’re in a bad mood and you force yourself to smile and you’ll start to feel a little silly. That the external behavior will drive your internal feelings or the internal feeling can drive your external behavior it works both ways.
It could be that wealth and books or whatever missing variable also works this way. For example if you can imagine somebody that was always insanely curious and they always wanted to learn more that would cause them to buy more books but if they were insanely curious they might also be curious about how to make more money.
The Common Variable?
They might be curious about both learning stuff in these books and both how to operate in the world so that they could become more successful and make more money. What if it turns out that this idea of being curious was actually a muscle that you could build?
What if is the only difference is that some people are born naturally curious and naturally driven and they are driven to create wealth and they are driven to want to know what’s going on in this drives them to buy books?
What if is possible to cultivate that desire? What if is possible to cultivate that drive? What if it’s possible to cultivate that curiosity so that if you are to cultivate that curiosity you would start to have a desire to learn more, you would start to have a desire to figure out how to make more money, you might start to have a desire to figure out what you could do to improve yourself?
Free Will Option
What if it’s a matter of simply making a decision whether having that already built-in genetic desire if you can make a decision to build any skill that you want and it’s just a matter of doing the time to build that skill?
These are the some of the ideas of economics and unfortunately you can’t ever really do any kind of experiments. You can’t really separate variables you can’t set up double-blind tests. You have to kind of look at the empirical evidence and the benefit from looking at empirical evidence is you can decide how to interpret this any way you want.
You can decide to interpret this data to help you become more successful and get whatever you want. That’s kind of what Dr. Clark found when he looked at all of these families.
Water Seeks Its Own Level
He found that families that were wealthy tended to stay wealthy even if they had a couple of generations that slipped into poverty. Similarly, families that were poor tended to stay poor even if they had a couple of generations of wealth. The rich families, even if they went through a couple generations of poverty, they managed to get their wealth.
They had some kind of genetic impulse to get their wealth back. On the other hand the families that were poor, even though they had a couple of generations of wealth, they managed to lose all that wealth maybe because of their genetic disposition for poverty.
What this also could mean that even if you have a genetic disposition to be poor it is possible to become wealthy. So the idea is to figure out whatever these poor people did to create those one or two generations of wealth and just copy that.
Choose The Right Crew
The interesting part from the study of twins is that there turns out that there’s really only two factors, two variables that determine our adult personalities. Those two factors are genetics and non-family peer group. This means of you’re a parent it’s not such great news because there’s a lot of ideas out there that if you’re going to be a parent there’s all kinds of super genius parenting skills you need to learn.
According to the data, the data says otherwise. The data says if you’re a parent the best you can do for your children is make sure they hang out with positive role models. Once you give your kids your genetics that’s about the best you can do. Once we have our genes, which we can’t change, the best thing we can do as individuals is make sure we hang out with positive role models.
The data is very clear. The two factors that drive adult personalities are genetics and non-family peer group. Since we can’t change our genetics, we should focus on that thing that we can change which is our non-family peer group.
Everyone has a huge amount of control over the people that they choose to hang out with. If you want to become wealthy, if you want to become anything it’s simply a matter of finding the right people to hang out with. It’s simply a matter of finding the right role models.
The story my friend told me was that when he was in high school his father had already established this company. His father had founded this company. His father had grown up poor. He was worried that if his son grew up rich he would become corrupt.
He made a deal with the son when he was in high school. He said when he graduated high school he would give him a job in the mail room at his company. He would make a deal that he wouldn’t be allowed to say that he was his father’s son. But the deal was if he got himself a position in upper management by the time he was 35, then he would inherit the entire company, complete control of the entire company when he was 35.
Follow His Footsteps
His father’s decision was that this was the best way the best chance for his son to learn the same lessons that he learned. That creating wealth by hard work is the best way to create wealth. Getting wealth by inheriting it is very dangerous.
The son and the father agreed. The son got a job in the mailroom when he graduated high school. After high school to the time he was 35 he paid for his own college. He didn’t tell anybody he was the son of the founder and by the time he was 35 he had achieved the title of CFO all by himself.
That’s when they told everybody. That’s when he inherited the entire company because of his hard work and not because of his genetics.
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