Success and Luck Good fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H.Frank by Princeton University Press is to me a very courageous book because it speaks of a delicate theme: the one of luck not always accepted by Americans, in particular when they are rich and famous.
Don't tell to someone rich and famous he became rich and famous thanks to the good moment, good business, good connections because you will see that he/she will start to be upset. Try and then let me know.
The myth of the self-made man, hard worker, intelligent man, able to make the difference, is a priority.
But are we completely sure that luck is not involved in this process?
Once Bert my American neighbor said me: "Anna it's not important where you live, but who you know in that place."
And he was completely right because people you know can make the difference, in better and in worse and the social tissue of a place says all for the future development of a person and the career of this one.
If a person with abilities meet people in grade of helping him/her to coming out he/she is lucky. If he/she meets people who wants to cause troubles without being helpful it's a story of bad luck and impossibility of express the potentialities that there are.
The author tells that it was a struck of good luck being hired by the Cornwell University. A professor would have wanted to hire someone else, but another professor thought that Mr Frank was the best person and so he was hired and started to work in that prestigious university.
At first, because of a nasty divorce and his sons to growing up, Frank, a professor of Economics, didn't find the time the first three years at Cornwell to publishing anything because of these familiar problems.
During this period he met along his way Mr. Gramlich, policy economist professor, and thanks to their chats about economy and thanks to the encouragements received by him Mr. Frank started to publish without to being fired.
As also remarks Mr. Frank if he wouldn't have received this help, who knows what would have happened to him and his future? He continued to work in this university mainly because Mr.Gramlich's help and support. It was a good stroke of luck having met this man along his way.
A person born wealthy can theoretically and practically have much more success thanks to this first stroke of luck (being born rich and let's remember that no one chooses parents, environment and potential friends) than a common person. A good house plenty of books can help culture, and a best instruction and best schools although of course it's not said. But whatever that kid will want to do once adult, his/her options will be endless in comparison to the ones of a common person. It's a great luck that one as well.
The same author tells that he was adopted by a very wealthy family and only later when he was 35 years old, ready and helped by some friends for starting to search for his real mother and possible siblings. It is moving. Of course the situation of the adopted family permitted to the author of studying in good schools and having a great life.
Considering the first bad luck of being abandoned it was a great luck to being so loved and wanted by this new family don't you think so?
Once Mr. Frank talks of an interview with a famous reporter. The reporter wanted to clarify with him that the American dream is just hard work. Luck doesn't count. It was a big polemic. Later the author thought that maybe during the TV program he stayed too much "passive" because that reporter complained saying he left UK for affording in another very different country, and who knows what would have happened to him, and plus with his British accent!
Mr. Frank seeing the records of this reporter tells with tranquillity that he studied in prestigious schools, what a privilege! and so affording to the USA not like for the emigration of the beginning of 1900s. It was simple to find a great work place with that past and schools and plus British Accent is accepted and loved by Americans.
There are, insists Mr.Frank people with the same intelligence than other ones, the same abilities, but unfortunately they don't become successful as their similar ones.
A mystery? No, a story of luck. And good encounters.
We will also see the existing gap between the CEO of a big society and the pay received by the workers, and how a CEO is elected.
This book wants to share with you many economic facts with a lot of example that will let you think about what it can means a good struck of luck.
I want to share with you an example as well.
The one of our most important emigrant: Ivo Martinelli.
He lived in our little countryside, Morena, Umbria, Italia and left for good in 1948. Our countryside was very poor in that moment.
At school you could study just 'till the third elementary, there wasn't electricity, no bathrooms, no warm water in the houses.
He went at first in Venezuela. After a while he thought his dream the USA. He arrived to NYC. He told me that the first time he sat in a restaurant he just signed with a finger on the menu what he wanted to eat, without to have any pale idea of what he ordered. It was a hot dog. Ivo didn't know english at all.
After it, he did various works, in the American radar-spy in Alaska for more than 3 years and half and later opened a movie theater in Montreal.
There were some problems in Montreal with some people, not a great luck at all and he decided to move on and to change again, going to Vancouver.
Let's say that in that city Ivo has been very lucky because he met very good conditions and people (Ivo first on the right in the picture) as he told me who helped him to realize all his dreams without the problems experienced in the past.
There he owned six movie theaters, including a drive-in! Ivo invited in his theaters people like Mina, Rita Pavone, Claudio Villa our most important italian singers, because he told me that Italians felt melancholy for Italy and music the best cement. He shared a dinner with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
Luck, and lucky encounters are realistically important and a great part of our life.
Enjoy this very interesting book. It's for everyone and I wish to all: GOOD LUCK!
Thanks a lot Princeton Press for the physical copy of this amazing lucky book.
Anna Maria Polidori