The Roseto Mystery (Introduction)

Same condition or even worse condition than other groups, while they had lower heart disease rate.

Not physical factors such as exercise, gene, location
But social group habit

Opportunity (some prerequisite knowledge)

1.The Matthew Effect:
  • These have abundance should be given, while these have not should be taken away

  • Success in hockey game: birth date

  • These birth between January and March have more time to practice and to become physical maturity, these advantage can accumulate

2.The 10,000 Hour Rule (Accumulation makes for success):
  • Joy and Beatles’s success: opportunities to practice for 10,000 hours

  • Same work for other celebrities

3.The Trouble with Geniuses (Genius guarantee no success):
  • Christopher Langan, highest IQ ever, however he lived in misery

  • Lewis Terman’s study of Genetic Studies of Genius. And he found that people with highest IQ were not these most successful

  • So, extraordinary is less about talent but opportunities

  • To be Nobel Prize winner, you have to be smart enough, but smart is not everything.

  • Oppenheimer’s example: also met some similar obstacles, while he succeed in the end.

  • In higher level, practical intelligence, the ability to convince, to judge appropriate chance, play more important role.

The Three Lessons from Joe Flom

Joe Flom’s story: Brilliant immigrant kid overcomes poverty and the Depression and finally got his success.

However, after close investigation, we can find a series of stories behind his success and then draw a different conclusion.

1.Lesson One: The Importance of Being Jewish ( Provide them chances )
  • Although Joe had excellent ability, he was rejected for his background: being Jewish

  • And traditional law firms did not touch proxy fights, so they had enough chance for further development

2.Lesson Two: Demographic Luck
  • Although Joe’s father was as same intillegent as Joe, while he had no such demogaphic advantage: At Joe’s time, after the
    Depression there were more opportunities and less competitions.
3.Lesson Three: The Garment Industry and Meaningful Work
  • Business behind little girls’ aprons

  • Jewish immigrants were different: they had city business experiences. Came with business or professional skills such as dressmaking or sewing was a stroke of extraordinary good fortune

  • Three things make meaningful: atonomy, complexity and connection between effort and reward

  • Growing in environment with “meaningful” work prepare children for upper reaches

  • Tailor/Garment Maker >> Garment Maker >> Lawyer/Doctor


1.Harlan, Kentucky
  • Continuous fights between families

  • Cultures of honor behind these behaviors: their ancestors lived in highlands and other marginally fertile areas. Thus their survival depended on aggressiveness

  • A survey showed that this legacy went on and on, even after they left their homeland

2.The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes
  • Continuous crashes for Korea Airline
    Plane crashes are much more likely to result from an accumulation of minor difficulties

  • Low-power distance culture and high-power distance culture

  • Culture’s Consequences: difference in culture background make comunication between people less effective, less clear

Rice Paddies and Math Tests

Cultivating rice requires diligence, patience

Counting number and arithmetic operations are easier in Chinese

Advantages could accumulate, and math require no higher IQ but diligence

Rice paddies have exactly these advantages

A investigation on solving a math problem: diligence bring in better math capability

Marita’s Bargain

KIPP had higher academic performance, especially in mathematics, although they had physical disadvantages

More time for study instead of more time for respite

Research in high school about different social classes: Although they grew the same in school, but child in lower social classes grew little during their vacations.

A Jamaican Story

My mother’s path to success isn’t true. We should know its background

Color game: the whiter you are, the better life you have

This culture brought in success in their child.