Tag Archives: success

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.



Lessons Learned From Movies

If you’re going to stay in and Netflix your Friday night, you might as well take lessons learned from the movies (or TV shows) you (binge) watch. Here is my take on lessons that can be learned from movies.

1) Inception – “You mustn’t be afraid to be dream a little bigger darling…”

Inception is a slight mind-fuck of a movie. Well, not totally. Anyways, Tom Hardy’s line is wicked after the Joseph Gordon Levitt character fails to achieve his goals with machine gun.

Lesson: Dream (a little) bigger; don’t limit yourself.

2) Gladiator – “AS ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Man, Gladiator is a man’s man movie. Guys should aspire to be Maximus (played by Russell Crowe), and women want to bang him (uh, the Maximus character that is). Didn’t Gladiator win Best Picture and nab an Oscar for Russell Crowe? So there you go, a movie riffing on Spartacus can win you awards.

But wait, that’s not the lesson.

Lesson: the real lesson is about leadership, commanding your troops, stepping into a leadership role…and teamwork.  Together you stand, divided you fall.

3) Children of Men – “No good deed goes unpunished…”

This film won an Oscar for best cinematography. I didn’t know what cinematography was/is, but when you see this film, you’ll see why it won. Solid film.

I bring up Children of Men because of a phrase Julianne Moore’s character says to Clive Owen’s character.

“No good deed goes unpunished, Theo…” 

The film takes place in 2027 where women are no longer able to conceive, leading to the imminent end of population growth and humanity itself. Theo, played by Clive Owen, gets caught up in the fight amongst competing groups (rebels vs. government vs. some mythical research group) when he has to help a pregnant (!) woman get safe.

I had never heard of the expression “No good deed goes punished” before. Indeed, I would think that good deeds are good, and should be recognized (or rewarded), not punished! But in the work/corporate world/real life/relationships, phew-ee, do I understand why people say, “No good deed…goes punished.”

You should too, if you haven’t already.

4) This is It (Michael Jackson rehearsal/documentary)

This film came out a little after Michael Jackson’s death in 2009. At the time, I saw it as profiting of the timing of Michael Jackson’s passing. Years later, and dropping the context for the film’s release, the film gives you a way different view of Michael Jackson.

The film is based on footage from Jackson’s rehearsals for his upcoming tour. Jackson had the tapes rolling as he wanted to view the recorded rehearsals privately later on. The intent was never to release it – but with his passing, the footage was cut into a documentary.

You see Jackson being the consummate craftsmen, an artist first and foremost…someone OBSESSED with detail. Whereas he had the public persona of Crazy (remember his nickname “Wacko Jacko??), This is It shows Jackson as lucid, determined and dedicated to presenting the best show.

Lesson(s): Like a swan furiously paddling beneath the water, you don’t see the hard work and sacrifice behind the scenes. The clip above…I mean, whoa, MJ is a damn pro who knows what he wants. You don’t get success slacking off or failing to know what you want.

5) Godfather – “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Every guy loves The Godfather (well, the first two of the trilogy anyways!). So many iconic scenes. The kiss of death. James Caan getting machine-gunned down. And for me, it was this scene:

Lesson: Know people’s thumbscrew. And press. Then turn.


6) American Gangster – “My man…”

Well, you’re probably tired by now…I’ll just say that American Gangster is a solid film. Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe make good films together!

If you like this, I can make more posts about movie lessons. Or if you have your lessons, let me know in the comments!

Fake it ‘til you Make it

Fake it Til You Make it in Real Time

“…to thine own self be true”

– Polonius in Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

“…to thine own self be true (sort of, it depends?)”

– Johnny Elle

Have you ever been too honest?

  • If your wife asks you, “Do I look fat in this?”, how do you reply?
  • If your boyfriend asks, “does size matter?”, how would you reply?