I’ve discovered that your parents are probably the single greatest influence on your life; more so than your peers. For one, your parents are the one’s who gave birth to you, therefore you inherit their genes. Whether or not you wear glasses, grow tall, which language you speak, where you live and grow up all depends on your parents. So I think it is very important that parents have a well planned out career for their children.
Fact of the matter is the past can’t be changed, but I’ve always wondered how much more of an advantage I would have had if I wasn’t raised in a small town of 30,000 and instead grew up in New York or San Francisco or even stayed in China until I was in high school then immigrated to Canada/US. How different would I be? My Chinese would be much improved, surely, due to having more motivation to speak it. I would have more opportunities in my grasp. There are many opportunities out there every day but there tends to be much more depending on where you’re from. A person who grew up in Silicon valley would have much more IT opportunities than someone who grew up in rural Iowa, for example. Where you grow up also influences who you network with. So that person in Iowa would be surely disadvantaged than the person in San Francisco who has a lot of IT and entrepreneurial evangelists as buddies. So where your parents settle down and raise you is very important to who they want you to be.
I always look upon JFK as my source of inspiration. He accomplished so much before he died at 46. But I wondered how much of that was due to his parents and how much due to himself. He attended Choate before enrolling in Princeton and transferring to Harvard. Would he have gotten in if his parents weren’t so rich? What about taking classes at Stanford Business School and enlisting in the United States Navy? Would he have gotten in if not for his parents influence? Then as a result of the war, he became a congressman, senator and eventually president by the time he was 43. Each experience builds on top of the other. Every accomplishment serves as a stepping stone for the next one until he was at the top, the highest office in the land.
It kind of makes me feel that way, while I do have that ambition, my parents did not have the money nor the influence. I did not go to a private school, nor an American university. I couldn’t afford to, because I wasn’t a US citizen. My parents had settled in Canada and in a way it kind of forced me to choose which one to go to. In no way is University of Toronto a bad school, but like other Canadian companies and institutions in general, lack the prestige and international reputation that American things carry. What makes America so great and envied by the world? Is it because it’s the world’s sole superpower? richest country in the world? Most powerful military in the world? third most populated country and most populated fully developed country in the world? It was Americans who produced nuclear weapons, not Canadians. It was Americans who started the Digital revolution (Apple & Microsoft), not Canadians. It was Americans who pioneered automobiles, not Canadians. It’s like standing in the shadow of the brother who accomplished more and is more recognized I suppose.
And what is the secret of American achievement, success and innovation? Most of the world’s most powerful and recognizable brands (Coca Cola, McDonalds, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Citigroup, Google, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, Sears, Berkshire Hathaway, Proctor & Gamble, General Electric, etc) are all American. I guess a big part of my ambitions is to get a piece of that American Dream.
I digress though, Parents are absolutely critical to your success. I believe that with the proper nurturing, anyone can be successful, and the responsibility of the parents therefore, is to provide guidance and a suitable place to raise their child in order to maximize their success.