I'm on my way to GDC. I write this from first class on a 752-200 from Detroit Metro. 25 years ago I lived in poverty. How did I go from having nothing to being one of those 0.1%ers? The usual, hard work, self-discipline, delayed gratification. But there's another element that rarely gets talked about: Being born lucky.
I took a political test and one of the questions struck me, "Some people are born lucky." as a True or False statement. I remember watching a video of Sargon, a popular political YouTuber, taking this test where he answers no to this question. Let me assure you, some people are born lucky. I would know. I was born lucky.
There is a tendency I've seen with "rich" people I know to believe their wealth is solely due to their virtue and wisdom. But in my experience, being "born lucky" is a pre-requisite to success. The problem with believing in ones own virtue and wisdom when it comes to success is that it is easy to lose empathy for the less fortunate.
Besides being born in the United States I had an advantage that even those who were born rich didn't have. I have almost super-natural good health. I suspect if you were to study rich people, particularly those, like me, who were at one time living in poverty (by USA standards) you will find that unusually good health is something they have in common.
As tempting as it might be to ascribe my health to decisions I made, I know that not to be true. I eat horribly. I don't require more than a few hours of sleep per night. I brush my teeth only when my wife complains my breath is killing the plants even as my dentist tells me "whatever you're doing, keep doing it, you have exceptionally good oral health" (I've never had a cavity and tell the dentist that flossing is his job). I never had to blow my nose until after I had kids. I didn't have a single sick day from K-12 except for chicken pox.
My health isn't something I earned. It was something I was born with. My mom is a mutant as well as I'm not sure I've ever seen her sick. Ever. As in, I'm not sure she's even had a cold.
My unearned health has allowed me to do things that others couldn't do. So many times in my career a given opportunity was only possible because I could work every day for months at a time to get it done. So much of my success can be attributed to my unusually good health. I don't get tired. I don't get sick. Year after year. Even now, my entire family at home is sick. I try to sympathize by pointing out I have a hang nail (advice to others: don't do that, I am not immune to my wife's beatings).
So next time you hear someone ascribe some sort of moral failure on the part of the poor, remember, some of our success really is based on being born lucky.
This week, amongst many meetings, I will be reporting what I find over at www.neowin.com. Also, I trimmed that hangnail.
Well stated Brad. I never knew some of the about you, glad you made it! I am not rich here for sure, but there is always hope.
I'm not rich, never will be.... and I sure as hell wasn't born lucky.
If anything it's more the opposite, in both health and fortune. Still, I'm still happy with my lot.
In fact, I don't want to be rich because I believe it would change me too much. I'd have the money but I'd be much the poorer in other ways, with relationships potentially suffering because of money quarrels, etc. Nah, I'm happier the way I am.
I may at times struggle with making money stretch far enough, and I'll often have to go without stuff when I want or need some new tech, etc, but I'm not worried or complaining because I feel that I am rich in the relationships I have with friends and family.
Sadly, though, my health is not the best and I'm in constant pain, so I may be a little envious there, but with the medications and physio I can manage and I do fare better than some. There are others far worse off than I, so in that respect I do count myself as being fortunate.
Money does change things. But in my experience, not quite in the way you describe. It is both better and worse. Money doesn't create happiness and I never set out to be rich, it just happened from me doing what I wanted to do in the first place which is make cool stuff.
I'm very sorry to hear about your health. You're a good man.
I consider myself lucky.
At the age of 56 I had heart bypass surgery.
On this day the 27th of February I celebrate my 70th birthday.
The grandkids now refer to me as being a stone age person.
I was born in 'The Lucky Country' ....so the rest was/is 'a given'...
....and there ain't nuthin' wrong with the smilies...
Australia has always been referred to as 'The Lucky Country'....sun....beaches...space...etc. "the land of plenty".
OK, so it's the second driest continent [Antarctica is first], is home to the world's deadliest anythings...including all top 10 snakes....
Melbourne [where I am] has been the World's most livable city for several years. [in spite of Real Estate prices - New York is cheaper].
I just got back from working Round 1 of the World Superbikes today....and we have a round of the MotoGP, and next month it's the Round 1 opener of Formula One ....The Melbourne Cup is the third biggest nag race in the world [if yer into them - I'm not].
But like Brad, I had to work to get what I've got...where I'm at. Nothing is 'free'...
When it comes to 'fighting' Australia has fought....in pretty well every conflict anywhere....including not the '17-18' and '41 -45' wars...but the '14-18' and '39-45' wars..
Sure is....means I'm still alive and kicking...
I am just down the road in Geelong
Should catch up one day ....been eons since I hooked up with a local WC user...
I know that if I were to suddenly become wealthy there would be dozens of people with their hands out, and that would be my dilemma. People don't remain rich if they give to everyone with a sob story or their hand out, and while I'd want to help those in need and who are deserving of it, there would be many I'd have to say no to, and that's where the problems would arise, with bitterness and resentment towards myself and those I had helped.
So no, I'd rather not have it to begin with. At least this way, everyone knows I don't have it to give and the status quo remains. Having said that, I do help my daughter quite a bit. She is doing it tough right now, and I don't have a lot, but I don't want my grandkids going without the necessities of life while she struggles to make ends meet.
Thanks for that, I appreciate it. The thing is, I have better days than others where I'm high in spirits and feel like I can conquer the world. Then there's the not so good days when I'm in pain and/or suffering with vertigo, but I try to remain positive and cheerful so as not to depress those around me. It's at those time I think of the Monty Python song: "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life".
As for being a good man, well I try to be. I mostly succeed, but then there are times when I look back in retrospect and feel I could have done better. Oh well, it's the thought that counts.
Yeah, I had one of those... got run off the road and ended up in hospital [on and off] for 3 years. I had a total of 136 fractures, which is probably why I suffer with arthritic pain nowadays, some 40+ years later. Thing is, I was bulletproof and invincible back then, so once I was back on my feet I returned to the hard physical type of work I'd always known... and loved. I tried office and factory work but never really liked it. I hated being cooped up so I did some outdoor construction work before settling down to doing removals [shifting other peoples junk from a to B]
Unfortunately, however, with past injuries and such, my body eventually broke down and I got pensioned off a few years back... put out to pasture, if you will, to get fat in lieu of the required effort. Oh well, it could have been worse....coulda been sent to the knacker yard and melted down for glue.
So in other words those who are rich have superior jeans and are thus worthy of being more prosperous?
That is not what Brad is saying. Quite the opposite, in fact. From what I read, Brad could very well have had the arse hanging out of his 'jeans', because he lived in poverty at one point in his life and likely couldn't afford to patch them, much less purchase new ones. So no, it wasn't a rich gene... if ever there was such a thing.
I don't know that there's such a thing as being born lucky, either. Brad may have been blessed with good health and have a few things go his way, but the fact is that he went from poverty to being a successful business man through hard work and dedication. So if genes are involved, it will be the ones that ensure the good health and stamina to work towards his goals.
As for rich jeans, I'd like some of those overpriced designer ones the Hollywood stars wear, quite frankly, not these cheap generic things I pick up at K-Mart for 10 bucks... 7.95 on special.
The post seems like an intentional contradiction to prove a point.
On one hand you were born lucky, but on the other hand you worked hard for what you've achieved.
Based on things you've said in the past on this forum, I'm waiting for the "gotcha" when you post again...
I see no contradiction... no on one hand and then the other.
I mean, why can't success be a combination of all those things?
An enterprise does not succeed on one aspect alone. You can throw all the money in the world at it but if you're not prepared to work had it will fail regardless of the cash supporting it..
Good health is another important factor to building a business, because without it the energy and vitality to continue building just isn't there.
Oh, and then there's the product! Do enough people want it to make it viable?
And then there's luck, or as I prefer to call it, good fortune, being on your side.... things going the way you need them to in order to make the steady progress to eventually turn a profit. And therein lies the key word... PROFIT, because without that there is no business.
I wasn't implying anything about Capitalism vs. Socialism/Communism. It is possible to make a profit with or without hard work, and I have nothing against profit. It's the best motivator there is.
I just get this uneasy feeling that the OP is a lead in to the "47%", or welfare queens, no new taxes, anti-safety net and anti-regulation rhetoric, etc, etc.
And yes, this kind of thing has happened on this forum before, even though it's supposed to be restricted to Joe User.
I think there is definitely something to the notion of 'born lucky' - you have to have the health and intelligence to exploit opportunities that present themselves during your lifetime. Being in the right place at the right time and playing the right gamble are the basic prerequisites to success in whatever you do - and you can't 'know' those conditions in advance, you just have to be able to recognize them. Timing is also a component of 'born lucky' - had Brad been born in 1884, he'd have had nothing to do and his awesome software development skills would have been for naught.
Of course luck is a huge factor. Ask the guy born without any limbs, or that kid who died of cancer at the age of 4 and never learned to code. But I think it doesn't necessarily follow that because person X was lucky he has to share it with person Y just so it's fair. Imho, modern socialism is based on humanism rather than fairness. We have to be able to recognize that capitalism brings something good because it strives for people to excel. At the same time I think it is right to strive for a degree of socialism in order to ease the sufferings of our fellow humans who are so very much suffering. And that is not based on a moral obligation stemming from it being unfair that I got lucky, because had I been unlucky I would have felt no less sypmathy for those who suffer. I just wouldn't have been able to help as much.
I dunno.I've seen pictures.
No, you weren't! I was just saying that it's several things that combine to make a successful business, and that Brad was/is fortunate to enjoy great health [not a rich gene or a lucky gene], and that's what enabled the continuous hard work Brad put in to get where he is today.
I spent a few weeks in Melb after Christmas...stayed in Lonsdale St... lovely wide, tree lined street...2 mins from Chinatown...great choice of restaurants for dinner every night....top spot..
Haven't been back for about 25 years and must say it's gone ahead leaps and bounds and had a lovely time re-exploring the city and exploring Southbank etc. Took a cruise up the Yarra, took in a coupla exhibitions, a wander down Chapel St and an amble around the Chapel St Bazaar and revisiting some favourite haunts like Pellegrinis.
The whole feel of the city was more elegant and relaxed than the helter skelter of Sydney and everyone was so relaxed and friendly.
Enjoyed it so much started thinking I could move back quite easily...and started checking out real estate... then started remembering the longer, colder winters...
Sydney's harbour is stunning...the Bridge...the Opera House and I am lucky enough to live on the harbour, but if I had to live further out with the heat and the traffic, I would be back in Melbourne in a shot...winter or no winter.
My brother is moving back to Oz with his American wife from Seattle, and I've told him Melb is the best place for them to settle...far more sophisticated and cosmopolitan with their love of the coffee and tea industry. Sent him heaps of pics and they are sold on the place.
I left the day before the unfortunate incident in Bourke St Mall... I was in the Mall at the same time the day before which bought it even closer to home...
Melbourne has the best day trips an hour to and hour and a half out of the city....don't bother in Sydney...traffic too bad... but some lovely inner harbour beach spots close to home I must say...
Best plan.. win lotto... summer in Melb and winter in Syd... sorted... almost... going to buy lotto ticket...
(Melb drivers are nuts tho!!)
While I subscribe to Seneca's "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" philosophy, as that has often been my experience, I think you're 100% right that many successful people seem to forget that at one or more points they maybe had a 50/50 shot or worse of failing miserably. Just because you "made it" by whatever your personal definition of that is, doesn't make you the smartest/wisest/perceptive person in the room.
A nice post Brad.
@ sydneysiders, on Sydney & Melbourne... big cities, etc.
I don't like big cities full stop, with all that hustle and bustle, but I certainly prefer Melbourne over Sydney any day. The inner city of Melboune isn't so metropolitan and concrete canyonish, and the people aren't so 'gotta be there yesterday-ish', either. Sydney, on the other hand, is too full on and uncompromising, with everything going 100mph 24-7.
I don't like Brisbane, either, for much the same reason, and it's worse since I last was in there. For the last 10 years I've lived between 32 and 50 minutes away by train, yet I've not bothered going to Brisbane City even once. All I need is here in Ipswich/Brassall.... and what isn't I can get on-line. Having said that, however, we are moving to Maryborough, up the Qld coast a ways, in the next couple of months.... for an even more relaxed lifestyle.
There's a few reasons as to why, and I don't mind where I am now, but it's a move that will benefit several people in the long term, including a niece of Shaunna's, a family friend, plus my daughter and her kids.
Yup, we're all moving up there to effect was is commonly known as a seachange... not to mention going to a cooler climate, being closer to the coast. Ipswich can be one hell of a hot SOB during Summer, and bitterly cold in Winter, so Maryborough will be a pleasant change for us all.
I'm curious about things: faith, belief, and identity in particular. I'm not especially interested in accruing wealth; I have enough that I don't need to worry. In my universe, success in equals understanding, recognizing that understanding is both fluid and predicated on an almost infinite number of third variables.
Could you explain "luck", as you define it, and how it relates to your understanding of free will/free choice, and fatalism? I'm legitimately curious.
I'm betting the gotcha lies somewhere between the actual value of a 1 million to 200 million inheritance and a presidential campaign victory.
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