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Dreams are for the wealthy
Posted: 05 December 2013 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Is it me or is anyone else getting sick and tired of all these commercials that tell us to “reach for your dreams”?  I have a mortgage, two car payments, and kids to get through college. How do I go for my dreams?  What about kids whose parents can’t afford college or don’t have good enough credit scores to take out loans? You can’t get a crappy job without a degree these days yet alone a good one.

I’m a fan of silent movies, and I remember reading about how these two brothers dreamed of being in the movie business, circa 1900’s. They started a hotdog stand, saved enough money to buy a movie projector (a nickelodeon actually) and set up booths along the street. From those proceeds they opened an actual theater, and the rest is history.  I *think* it was the Loeb brothers.  In THOSE days all it took was a good idea and hard work.  Can you imagine nowadays?  They couldn’t even start up a hotdog stand! (They were teens at the time).

Nowadays it’s all money and degrees and luck.  Or am I all scrooged?

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Posted: 05 December 2013 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Design an app. Much easier than selling hotdogs.

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Posted: 05 December 2013 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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George is right Cuthbert. It may not be so easy to open a movie production company from scratch but the vast majority of millionaires and billionaires in the country came from humble beginnings. The founders of Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, and many other companies were middle class kids who had a great idea and the courage and hutzpah to make their dreams happen. I think if anything those stories are more common today than they were 100 years ago.

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Posted: 05 December 2013 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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You’re kidding right? Bill Gates, humble beginnings?  Please.  Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his Harvard buddies middle class? Bull.  Mark Z’s dad hired a programmer to teach him programming.  Eduardo S, facebk fame had wealthy parents too, probably the other Harvard buddies who helped form and finance Facebook did too.  Jobs, while not of SO wealthy parents was definitely well financed in his schooling and to get a job at Atari without a degree, well that just doesn’t happen without connections.  And I think you’re being completely disingenuous when you say “I think if anything those stories are more common today than they were 100 years ago”.

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Posted: 05 December 2013 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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George - 05 December 2013 11:55 AM

Design an app. Much easier than selling hotdogs.

Are you a programmer? Not so easy. Plus there are literally millions of apps. It takes mucho money or connections to make real money OR flatout luck.  It’d be like in my example except there are literally so many hotstands you can’t walk down the street. smile

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Posted: 05 December 2013 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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CuthbertJ - 05 December 2013 03:19 PM

You’re kidding right? Bill Gates, humble beginnings?  Please.  Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his Harvard buddies middle class? Bull.  Mark Z’s dad hired a programmer to teach him programming.  Eduardo S, facebk fame had wealthy parents too, probably the other Harvard buddies who helped form and finance Facebook did too.  Jobs, while not of SO wealthy parents was definitely well financed in his schooling and to get a job at Atari without a degree, well that just doesn’t happen without connections.  And I think you’re being completely disingenuous when you say “I think if anything those stories are more common today than they were 100 years ago”.

Cuthbert this is why you will never succeed. Where you see obstacles these men all saw opportunity. Evan William from Twitter grew up on a farm. Steve jobs grew up in a very modest one story ranch. Mark Zuckerbergs father was a dentist but not a millionaire and money or lack of it will not keep you out of Harvard. Harvard has a policy that no parent will have to pay more than 10% of their income towards their child education. No one handed these men success. They made their own success. Keep telling yourself something is impossible and it will be

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Posted: 05 December 2013 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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macgyver - 05 December 2013 03:52 PM
CuthbertJ - 05 December 2013 03:19 PM

You’re kidding right? Bill Gates, humble beginnings?  Please.  Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his Harvard buddies middle class? Bull.  Mark Z’s dad hired a programmer to teach him programming.  Eduardo S, facebk fame had wealthy parents too, probably the other Harvard buddies who helped form and finance Facebook did too.  Jobs, while not of SO wealthy parents was definitely well financed in his schooling and to get a job at Atari without a degree, well that just doesn’t happen without connections.  And I think you’re being completely disingenuous when you say “I think if anything those stories are more common today than they were 100 years ago”.

Cuthbert this is why you will never succeed. Where you see obstacles these men all saw opportunity. Evan William from Twitter grew up on a farm. Steve jobs grew up in a very modest one story ranch. Mark Zuckerbergs father was a dentist but not a millionaire and money or lack of it will not keep you out of Harvard. Harvard has a policy that no parent will have to pay more than 10% of their income towards their child education. No one handed these men success. They made their own success. Keep telling yourself something is impossible and it will be

So naïve. Each one of those tech companies were formed by multiple people, most or all of whom had rich well connected parents. Steve Jobs comes to closest to your notion of a small guy making by his own hard work, but even there I believe he had wealthy connections or partners with them.  Now if you were smart, you’d mention Kickstart or something like that where people DO work hard to raise money to start things….but still they need the bucks.

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Posted: 05 December 2013 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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No one ever conquered the world by making excuses Cuthbert.

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Posted: 05 December 2013 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Cuthbert this is why you will never succeed. Where you see obstacles these men all saw opportunity. Evan William from Twitter grew up on a farm. Steve jobs grew up in a very modest one story ranch. Mark Zuckerbergs father was a dentist but not a millionaire and money or lack of it will not keep you out of Harvard. Harvard has a policy that no parent will have to pay more than 10% of their income towards their child education. No one handed these men success. They made their own success. Keep telling yourself something is impossible and it will be

My wife has a sign on her office wall that’s a quote from Henry Ford, you know the farmer’s son who became a multimillionaire, loosely quoted it says “if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right”. Or Thomas Edison, also a farm kid who ended up a multimillionaire, who stated that success is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration, or Andrew Carneigie who began life as a poor steel worker, so poor he had only one meal daily and ended up owning the company. And you can aptly point out that they began their careers in the late 19th Century but amassed most of their wealth in the 20th. There are many other rags to riches stories to numerous to point out. Fact is in this century the possibilities are endless as education has markedly improved, academically and technologically and anyone with the Drive because that’s what it takes, can at least better themselves if not excel. You can’t sit back and wait to be lucky; you have to crave it and that takes self confidence, intelligence, elbow grease, and connections if you have them. If not they can be developed. Look how we’re all plugged in to each other via the electronic media! Some of us (well, not me on facebook) establish new connections daily. You don’t have to be backed by a famous parent or a wealthy one to be self driven.


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Posted: 05 December 2013 09:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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CuthbertJ - 05 December 2013 04:17 PM
macgyver - 05 December 2013 03:52 PM
CuthbertJ - 05 December 2013 03:19 PM

You’re kidding right? Bill Gates, humble beginnings?  Please.  Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his Harvard buddies middle class? Bull.  Mark Z’s dad hired a programmer to teach him programming.  Eduardo S, facebk fame had wealthy parents too, probably the other Harvard buddies who helped form and finance Facebook did too.  Jobs, while not of SO wealthy parents was definitely well financed in his schooling and to get a job at Atari without a degree, well that just doesn’t happen without connections.  And I think you’re being completely disingenuous when you say “I think if anything those stories are more common today than they were 100 years ago”.

Cuthbert this is why you will never succeed. Where you see obstacles these men all saw opportunity. Evan William from Twitter grew up on a farm. Steve jobs grew up in a very modest one story ranch. Mark Zuckerbergs father was a dentist but not a millionaire and money or lack of it will not keep you out of Harvard. Harvard has a policy that no parent will have to pay more than 10% of their income towards their child education. No one handed these men success. They made their own success. Keep telling yourself something is impossible and it will be

So naïve. Each one of those tech companies were formed by multiple people, most or all of whom had rich well connected parents. Steve Jobs comes to closest to your notion of a small guy making by his own hard work, but even there I believe he had wealthy connections or partners with them.  Now if you were smart, you’d mention Kickstart or something like that where people DO work hard to raise money to start things….but still they need the bucks.

I totally agree with CuthbertJ, and disagree with Macgyver here.

Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Mark Zuckerberg were from white upper-middle class backgrounds - i.e. the most privileged background in the country outside of the truly rich. It’s ludacris to suggest they did not have above average connections and resources in doing what they did. That in itself, is upper middle class thinking.

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Posted: 06 December 2013 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Back to the original thread; hell yes some if the richest people inherited wealth and priviledge but of the 100 wealthiest in the World today only 27 inherited it and 18 didn’t even have a college education. The rest got there by persistence, failure and then success, learning along the way, e.g. James Dyson who came from a single parent family of four. There a many success stories coming from the blue collar World so, yes it can be accomplished depending on the right conditions here in the Western World. For instance, most of the posters on this thread are middle and upper middle class. Did you get your jobs through family ties and outside connections? I’ll bet you worked your asses off for your positions; no one just handed them to you.


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Posted: 06 December 2013 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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mid atlantic - 05 December 2013 09:56 PM

Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Mark Zuckerberg were from white upper-middle class backgrounds - i.e. the most privileged background in the country outside of the truly rich. It’s ludacris to suggest they did not have above average connections and resources in doing what they did. That in itself, is upper middle class thinking.

Read this Wikipedia entry on Bill Gates. Yes mom and dad had upper middle class jobs but nobody handed him anything and there is no mention of special connections in his rise to success. In fact what you get from a reading of his early life is that this guy was brilliant, had some good ideas,incredible drive, and a was willing to take risk ( dropped out of Harvard, made some bold claims but then backed them up with action).  Those are the things that make people successful. Yes it can be helpful to be backed by powerful or wealthy parents or to have connections but the lack of them does not preclude success and there is no evidence that either played a role in Bill Gates success or Paul Allen.

You don’t have to be a tech wizard to be successful either. If you are driven for success something as simple as underwear can get you there. The creator of Spanx is a young woman named SAra Blakely who with no Ivy League education or connections took a simple idea and became a Billionaire ( yes with a “B”).  Take a look at Mark Cuban’s story for another example. And sticking with the Shark Tank theme for success in another field look add Barabra Corcoran.

Its easy to find excuses for our own failures but none of that will help you succeed. No one is going to hand success to you. You can whine about how someone else had better opportunities or you can get off your butt and look for your own.

[ Edited: 06 December 2013 09:08 AM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 06 December 2013 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Surprised to see so many Oprah fans here. Duh, you have to work hard to get anywhere, and duh, social accumulated advantages matter.

When I first heard of Bill Gates, I heard how he rode his bike to the computer lab to learn how to program. When his biography came out, I found out his mother started lab, AT THEIR COUNTRY CLUB!!! Which of those is more important? That he studied instead of played, or that his mommy helped him? The answer does not actually matter. It will be different for each individual millionaire.

What does matter is that most of the stories of rags to riches in the tech industry have those details about who their parents were or what advantages they were given, left out. This leaves a false impression that it ONLY takes guts and determination. This leads to people not caring about the disadvantaged and claiming they should ride their bikes to the library. Never mind their are drug dealers between them and the library and they don’t have a bike.

So, yeah, I hate the marketing side of capitalism. The part where they try to sell you the dream of fast cars and great abs. Having a nice house and putting your kids through college actually is a wonderful dream in itself.

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Posted: 06 December 2013 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Let me add some timeframe here and clarification. My original post was meant to imply, and I admit I didn’t state it clearly, that since about the 1980’s (ahem, can anyone say Reagan) the things that went into achieving the American Dream, such as hard work, diligence, etc. mattered far far less than the things that go into it now (if it even exists anymore).  The likes of Edison, Ford, etc. succeeded in part because pretty much anything went in those days. You could put children to work, you could setup shop with little or no regulation and certainly no college degree. Or you could get a job just by showing up and wowing the boss, and from there proceed by hard work. 

Nowadays that job you want to wow’em about? There are 50 to 100 applicants for it, all of them with college degrees.  Sure there are a few success stories, like the Spanx thing, but that’s 1 out of millions of not so lucky stories. And think about that Scott Mayers guy who was posting here for awhile. He had some interesting scientific ideas. 50 years ago he probably could have raised a little money and done some experimenting on his own. Nowadays without a PhD he’d never get near a lab, let alone be able to open one himself ala Edison.

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Posted: 06 December 2013 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Good points. Comparisons to immigrants coming to New York and working their way out of the slums or just about any story of success from before 1950 are pretty much worthless. Of course any story that demonstrates how hard work pays has value, but no story can negate that fact that hard work often does not pay off. The success stories are not arguments that unsuccessful people are lazy and the failure stories aren’t arguments that successful people are just lucky.

I was just coming into the job market when this shift toward being enamored with entrepreneurs started. It was exciting when I was naive enough to believe it. It didn’t take long to figure out most entrepreneurs were not much different than cruel bosses from the 1950’s. Then came the 90’s where money was made using money. Risk became not risky at all for many and poor people started arguing that rich people deserved what they got. I don’t mean to be longing for the good old days, but it seems like we need to get back to valuing a hard’s day work.

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Posted: 06 December 2013 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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CuthbertJ - 06 December 2013 11:21 AM

Let me add some timeframe here and clarification. My original post was meant to imply, and I admit I didn’t state it clearly, that since about the 1980’s (ahem, can anyone say Reagan) the things that went into achieving the American Dream, such as hard work, diligence, etc. mattered far far less than the things that go into it now (if it even exists anymore).  The likes of Edison, Ford, etc. succeeded in part because pretty much anything went in those days. You could put children to work, you could setup shop with little or no regulation and certainly no college degree. Or you could get a job just by showing up and wowing the boss, and from there proceed by hard work. 

Nowadays that job you want to wow’em about? There are 50 to 100 applicants for it, all of them with college degrees.  Sure there are a few success stories, like the Spanx thing, but that’s 1 out of millions of not so lucky stories. And think about that Scott Mayers guy who was posting here for awhile. He had some interesting scientific ideas. 50 years ago he probably could have raised a little money and done some experimenting on his own. Nowadays without a PhD he’d never get near a lab, let alone be able to open one himself ala Edison.

Yes it is hard to be a big success but I am not sure why you think it was so much easier back in the day? I’m not sure where we could find that sort of data but my gut feeling is that if you were able to put it together you would find that there are more self made millionaires ( accounting for inflation of course) today then there have ever been. You are correct that you can no longer just walk into a job with no skills and no education and expect to get to the top by putting your nose to the grind stone in most cases but that is largely a factor of progress. Much of what makes our world go around these days is complex and tech oriented. That’s the nature of progress. I’m a physician and 100 years ago getting into med school was a lot easier than it is today. In addition, when you came out you were skilled in virtually all fields of medicine. That’s because there wasn’t very much to know. Today it takes far more training just to master a specialty area in medicine. To make it in many industries you are going to need a college education or more. That trend has been going on since the wheel was invented though and it will only become more pronounced as our knowledge base and technical prowess increases.

You are correct that there are many more applicants per job now than there were in the past but that has really only been an issue since the 2008 recession. Prior to that many industries were competing for warm bodies to fill their positions. So yes the employment market is different than it was 15 years ago but the employment market always goes through cycles and this is just another one that we are slowly climbing out of.

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