Why “Dumber” People are More Successful than You

In school, it was generally assumed that the smartest people — the ones with the best grades — were the ones who would be most successful in life.

Something interesting happens about 10+ years after graduating from school. You realize that this presumed relationship between success and intellect is NOT true.

Here are a few examples:

A friend of mine was in the MIT PhD program in electrical engineering. The smartest students in the program became professors in academia. The two worst students in her PhD program started a company and sold it to Cisco for $4 billion.

One of my high school classmates desperately wanted to get into any Ivy League school — but couldn’t.

Fifteen years after high school, he has the same job (in venture capital) that my Stanford and McKinsey friends have.

When I became an entrepreneur, I was by far the person with the most elite academic credentials amongst my peers (these were small businesses without venture capital financing).

I was nowhere near the most successful. In fact, nearly half of my entrepreneurial mentors and friends don't have a college degree at all...

These are the people that I learn from constantly. Much of the non-consulting advice I share with you comes from these “unschooled” people.

(By the way, I do make a distinction between people who are unschooled vs. uneducated. Nearly all of my friends are well educated, even though half of them are not well schooled.)

I’ve concluded that in life and career there is an X factor — one thing that can compensate for poor grades, lack of an Ivy League degree, lack of a college education at all, poor test scores, the inability to do math, and even a low IQ.

What is that X factor?

What is the X factor that not only compensates for any perceived resume shortfalls, it in many cases makes your resume irrelevant?

That X factor is...

Your Network

There’s a lot of truth in the old saying...

It’s not WHAT you know, it is WHO you know that matters.

Or more importantly, it’s who knows YOU that matters.

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3 comments… add one
  • h Jun 3, 2015, 2:25 pm

    Very interesting topic– I know some of the top marketers who didnt go to school or dropped out so thats what makes this seem so compelling

    • Francisco Jun 7, 2015, 12:11 pm

      Hello H, can you share the names or biographies of these top marketers?

  • Will Jun 3, 2015, 1:00 am

    Good topic. If you write it, I’ll read it.

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