Valedictorians: Past Behavior is not Predictive of Future Success

He scored four touchdowns in one game in high school. That was his peak.

In the investing/finance world, there is the standard disclaimer “Past performance may not be indicative of future results.” Meaning, a mutual fund that yielded 10x the competition last year, may not happen again this year.

This disclaimer, while weasel-ish (but legally approved!), applies in real life too as the title of this post suggests. Namely, how someone performed in the past may not mean they will be destined for infinite greatness. This relates to a recent article talking about class valedictorians has gone viral in popularity and spread around. The article is actually an excerpt from Barking up the Wrong Tree. The main concept of the article is that those valedictorians and other people who were great at getting A’s in high school don’t necessarily become huge successes later in life.

That’s not to say, however, that top students become hobos or delinquents. Some do go on to become doctors, lawyers, tax partners, etc. But because they know how to follow rules and get good grades, these students only know how to compete in “the system”.

Do you ever look up former competitors classmates on Fakebook or LinkedIn to see what happened to them, much like we look up to celebrities of yesteryear? Perhaps there’s some schadenfreude or some curiosity. Like, did Susie Smartie become that Vice President of Sales? What about Simon Suckup? Is he a surgeon now?

Towards being socially upward, we can’t be chained too much to our past. That article about class valedictorians probably speaks to our insecurities in which we didn’t perform well in a rules-based game (i.e. the school system). But real life doesn’t work that way; and I’d argue that school doesn’t teach you those skills to succeed and be socially upward in real life.

So if you’ve ever failed at something or didn’t seem to have a knack for a topic, don’t let that past behavior rule you forever. It’s not your past behavior that dictates whether you’ll be successful. No, it’s your ability to get knocked down seven times, but get back up eight times that does.



Spring is Here! Time for a Self-Renewal

Bill Evans
Spring is here!

It’s been about a month after the first day of spring. But it sure hasn’t felt like it, at least not in Toronto. Worse if you are in eastern Canada…BUT with May just around the corner, warmer temps are coming.

With spring, it’s usually a time to do the annual spring clean. Clear out the garage, sub-out your winter clothes for brighter, lighter colours. Whereas New Year’s day is about the new year and new goals, Springtime promotes within us a feeling to renew and rejuvenate yourself. To be socially upward, it’s a great idea to ‘spring clean’ your surroundings, your body and your thoughts. Here are some tips to get you on your spring clean cleanse rejuvenation regime:

  1. Cleaning up

Gawd, isn’t it easier to just procrastinate on cleaning up? After all, the moment you re-order or tidy up (e.g. emptying out clutter), it seems to create more clutter.

Tactic: To combat the clean-up procrastination, go in spurts. Ten-minute intervals, to be exact. So spend TEN minutes tidying up (getting rid of paper, putting away winter clothes, etc.). This allows you to feel accomplished and it’s quick.

2. Mental cleanse

It’s no wonder that mental wellness has gained mainstream near-acceptance. We live in anxious times, full of worries, self-doubt, and such. I am my own worst enemy and you are probably too.

I am starting meditation and really trying to keep it simple. No pizzazz, no freaky cultish stuff, no over-the-top over-priced meditation sessions (like at Instead, it’s learning to zone in and let my thoughts drift away.


Now that it’s getting better to go outside, let’s take a moment to use our lunch time to walk outside. When it’s cold, we tend to make excuses to stay indoors. (“It’s too windy, it’s grey out…). But now that it’s sunny, NO EXCUSES.

Sitting is the new smoking, they say. To combat this, make sure you move. Walking is so easy, free and hey, it’s time to check out the ladies baring their skirts!  😉


So take a look at the three points I raised in this post. The aim is to just START. You gain momentum by starting small. In doing these three areas, you will get your spring cleanse and pave the way to a more socially upward lifestyle!

Not First Place…Can Work Out

Being first place is what successful, social upwards should strive for. Right? There are some tried and tested aphorisms like:

  • Being First to market when creating a new product
  • “Winners get the prom queen…” (as per The Rock film)
  • Silver sucks” (because it means you lost to the person who got the gold!)

And of course, there’s famous race car driver Ricky Bobby who explains why FIRST is the best:

I agree that being first can be great. But not always, though! After all, sometimes the person who is first is the one who is really the ‘canary in the coal mine’.

Arrows, pioneer, first
The problem with being a pioneer…and being first…

I like the cartoon at the top of this post. Rather than giving participation medals, we should encourage trying and getting your foot in the door. It’s like Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss one hundred percent of the shots you DON’T take.”

We have a real, human need to be chosen. To be the first choice. Look at sports drafts, like in NFL football or the NHL. There’s all this hype about being the number one pick. Sometimes they pan out, sometimes they don’t. But being number one is what people strive for.

Being successful and socially upward isn’t always about being number one. I like the story of Julia Roberts. Her big breakthrough came when she starred in Pretty Woman. Was she the first pick to play the hooker character? NO! In fact, her role was first offered to many others. Including Molly Ringwald (the 80’s starlet of teen films). Julia Roberts wasn’t first, second…not even fifth. And yet she OWNED the role and, to this day, is an A-lister.

I’ve probably been second, or third (or worst) choice for a job. In the end, it doesn’t matter what place. Who cares about what rank you are. What matters is what you do once you get your shot.

So be sure to be socially upward, be sure to:

  • Get your foot in the door.
  • Get started.
  • Get going.
  • Try.
  • Fail.
  • Learn from the failure.

I’ve had co-workers remind me how I wasn’t first choice for a job. It was their way to bring me down. Probably to their (low) level. Sure, it rubs hard. But I used the job experience to get skills, build experience and parlay that to greener pastures. You must do that too.

From Socially Awkward to Socially UPWARD