Wednesday, January 05, 2011

How to pick the most successful person from your graduating class?

As I was added more friends to my facebook account, I was rather shocked and surprised to see some of my friends in different era of my life doing something totally unexpected. I'm sure some of you had this kind of thinking whenever you go for those class reunion. I think the earlier on in life, the bigger will be the shock factor. You might have known this friend of yours in primary school who is the average typical guy, but boomz, after several years, he's a professor at xyz university teaching physics, specializing in nanotechnology. Then, there is the prince to pauper stories, those who did very well academically but didn't translate to much success in real life.

I'm not saying these people do not deserve whatever bright future they have ahead of them. It's just not expected of them, given the kind of attitude and characteristics that they had shown when I've known them. Okay, I admit, maybe a tinge of jealousy too. Makes me wonder what others would think of me.

So, if you have to pick the most successful person in your graduating class, how do you pick it?

1. Academic success

I doubt this is THE defining factor. There are those who are good in studies and not much good in life. Actually from what I see, it seems like those who didn't do too well in school have a greater 'shock' factor when it comes to working life. I've no evidence, just from what I've observed and I am aware of the data bias that comes with observing with my two jealousy tinted viewpoints.

2. Looks

I think in terms of looks, those who are generally better looking are usually more successful. At the bare minimum, there is an unequal headstart for them. Looks are depreciating assets, so I think if you have good looks, you must learn to convert it to something more permanent and lasting before it all goes away. Try looking for a rich spouse or charm your way up where it's naturally well defended.

3. Height

Those who are taller seems to be more successful, especially for guys. Hmm, on the contrary, I think it works reverse for girls. Again, it's just based on my observations. Perhaps for guys, it makes them more prominent and thus recognizable? For girls, at least in Singapore, I know if they are taller than average guys, it's hard for them to get married. Don't blame me, I don't come up with the social rules.

4. Personality

Generally, those who are quieter are not too successful. Okay, perhaps that's why the studious top 1% of the class are generally not doing too well. The more talkative, the more 'people-oriented' kind of personality, to me, is the best indicator of success. From the many students I've seen, I've already singled out a few such people. If they land themselves in the correct job scope, I think they will excel pretty well. But talk is one aspect, one must do also. All talk and no do kind of people will obviously not fare better than less boisterous people will actually do what they set out to do.

How to choose a nice kitten out of a basket?

5. Family background

Again, this offers an unequal headstart in life that you can't help but wonder why it doesn't happen to you. Needless to say, those who have a better family background will have access to a lot of things that pushes their children up ahead so fast that it's hard to catch up. Just a fact of life.

6. Luck

Can't see this coming until it happens...sometimes the blind hand of fortuna gives and sometimes she takes. Luck plays a very important role in successful. Forget about skill. With bad luck, a skillful person will even lose to a lucky beginner. But I believe we can engineer and attract good luck with both positive attitude and good preparation. Luck is attracted by people who are hardworking, I really believe so.

The funny thing is that all these changes as we grow and nothing is really fixed in stone. I guess it depends on whether you believe in predestined life or a life where you control your fate. The two are not mutually exclusive of course. Hmm, after talking at length, I'm still none the wiser on how to pick the most successful person from your graduating class...anyone have any stories to share? haha :)


PanzerGrenadier said...


There are studies done in the US that show that in the US rail industry, the height difference between management staff (supervisors and managers) vs the rank and file railway staff is statistically significant. I.e. on average, management staff were a few inches taller :-)

In general, being tall is good for you if you are a guy. Being tall for women can be positive in careers where height requirements e.g. catwalk models, air stewardess etc. Taller women may prefer equal heights or taller men hence their matrimonial target could be smaller than an average height woman (just my own hypothesis :-) )

I read the book, "Influence" by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini and research shows that good looking people do have a better ability to influence others for their own gain. So it's really true that you should get good looking people for sales/marketing/customer relationship types of jobs assuming minimum educational and other skill requirements are met :-)

I know of a fellow JC schoolmate who was from a good family, was academically bright, friendly and all round "nice-guy" and had a great future. But he committed suicide while studying overseas so I sometimes think we need both IQ and EQ to get through life.

Be well and prosper :-)

athulican said...

Musicwhiz said...

Hi LP,

I can relate to this post. I tend to think I am those prince to pauper cases - did well academically but more or less in limbo in terms of my career.

There was a primary school classmate who was the class joker and was super naughty, but now is like head of HR in a global bank and owns assets in excess of S$1 million!

Oh well.


Createwealth8888 said...

Born poor is not your fault. Die poor is your fault.

la papillion said...

Hi PG,

Oh, i've read that study before. It does make sense :)

I've seen students who had everything made for them, except their desire to do well...I guess things are just like that - if you have it all, it might not be a good thing. Conversely, if you don't have it all now, you might develop the fighting spirit to have what it takes to reach there :)

Anonymous said...

Hi LP,
My wife does not like to talk about financial matters.
She thinks as long as she has a roof over her head, food to eat, and money to spend, what's there more to ask for.
Anything more is a bonus to her.
Ha! Ha!
Heavens seem to favour simple folk with simple life.

In actual fact, I have been scratching my head till today on financial matters - that it leaves very little hairs on my head.
I also try to change her mind on money, money, money, it must be funny in a rich man's world(ABBA).

I talk so much that I think if she were to take over our "portfolio without me, she will be doing O. K. lah.
Ha! Ha!

la papillion said...

Hi kanglc,

Oh, I've seen that before. It's actually part of the reason why I came up with this post. The other reason is the fact that I've unexpected friends who invited me to join their facebook and I've seen their portfolio, haha :)

Hi mw,

It's still early to judge :) I've noticed a few jokers in class are quite successful too. Again, no evidence, just observations :)

Maybe we should encourage our kids to break the rules and be the class joker instead :)

Hi bro8888,

Well said well said.

la papillion said...

Hi temperament,

I agree :) Sometimes living a simple life can be quite good and carefree, especially when someone who thinks a lot for you is your spouse :)

Likewise for my case, I'm the one doing the hard planning. I'm okay with it actually, because I guess someone has to do it. It's a case of mutual influence :) haha

Createwealth8888 said...

My young colleague told me this:

Last time, when my parents paid for my study, I fooled around and never study hard.

Now I have to spend my own money and time to study hard. (He is studying part-time degree course)

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

Hello La Papillion

When you wrote that romantic (to your significant other it is!) Dec 2010 blog "Not to take things for granted", that was my definition of "success".

I was humming the 80's song: I wish I had Jessie's girl!

Kerry said...

Hey LP,
Yeah I've read this study too.

With regards to looks, that's something not of our choosing. However, the other contributing part is grooming and dress sense, I find, which can be developed.

Well the final point is beyond our control. Perhaps if we aspire to walk the success path, it'd be apt to prepare and work on ourselves so that when Lady Luck finally does show her face, we'll be more than ready to meet her. =)


Financial Journalist said...

I have always been thinking what kind of students will end up being successful in future.

Typical Singaporean is always comfortable and less ambitious with little drive.

My observation is that those who knows what they want and they are committed to pursue their goals, tend to do better.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

I guess the difference between your parent's paying and you paying for your own study is the intention. If you really want it, you'll treasure it and fight hard for it :)


I went to youtube to search for the song :) wow, you really introduced me to a lot of songs, haha!

Hi Kay,

I agree with you! Opportunities open up to those who are well prepared!

Hi fx trader,

Yes, definitely more motivated people will have a higher chance of success. Those who do not have a plan to succeed will invariably fail, all else being equal.

Musicwhiz said...

Jessie's Girl is by Rick Springfield, just to make your search easier. :)

la papillion said...

Hi mw,

Found it already :) thanks!