I’ve often cited Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers regarding right time/right place luck—often an accident of birth. For example Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Bill Joy and Scott McNealy were all born between 1953 and 1955
Another example of right time/right place is found in Harvard’s MBA class of 1974 as chronicled by Laurence Shames in The Big Time: The Harvard Business School’s Most Successful Class & How It Shaped America, originally published in 1986 and being republished now.
1974 was probably the most successful single group of MBAs ever graduated from any school; further, this class actually did stuff and built things, as opposed to shuffling money around.
But they also worked their tails off. They didn’t expect anything to be handed to them. They always asked for more work, not less. They were a very competitive, driven group. But, again, not only for their own monetary gains. They wanted to excel. They wanted to be leaders.
When the ’49ers graduated, I think there were 653 graduates. Only six guys went to Wall Street –less than one percent of the class. It just wasn’t considered where the action was or considered a place where you could make a meaningful difference.
Learning about that class makes you wonder what happened. Where did the drive for more than money go?
What happened between 1974 and 2008 that so changed the attitude of our best and brightest? Why did money gain primacy as the only thing that matters?
The funny thing is that if you ask the folks who actually are changing our world, such as Larry Page, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Kevin Systrom, they’ll all say the same thing—they didn’t do it for the money.
Flickr image credit: Patricia Drury