Career Path

I can tell you how the friend from Togo got where he is before the age of forty. He came to the US, found the cheapest school (mine), got a pharmacy degree, worked a million jobs to pay for it, graduated without debt, got a $100,000 job (pharmacy is lucrative), lived on $40,000, saved the rest, had enough to buy his own pharmacy in 10 years.

When I first came to the pocky little apartment where he lived with his wife and child, I was stunned to see a large hand-written, detailed chart of his life for the next 5 years. He told me he works on the chart every day. His dream is to go back to his country and start a chain of pharmacies in remote rural areas. At first, I confess, I thought he was a fantasist. But now I see him hitting every goal on the chart, and it’s really amazing.

15 thoughts on “Career Path

      1. I’d bet money there are homeschooler groups and possibly church-schools in your area that would happily arrange a get-together and pay him a speakers’ fee to come talk to their teens.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. …and I say this because I would happily pay to take my kids to such an event, and they’re not even teens yet. My nieces’ and nephews’ parents would kill for that opportunity, they are so frustrated trying to shake their teenagers out of sleepy American complacency and show them a clear path to successful adulthood. I bet a lot of parents would.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. This is a question that worries me deeply. How do you get a kid who was born here and always had a lot to have the same drive as people who came from nothing? I don’t know the answer but I sure would.

          You gave me an idea to invite my friend to speak here on campus, though. It’s s brilliant idea.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. “How do you get a kid who was born here and always had a lot to have the same drive as people who came from nothing?”

            Why would you want to? Sure, growing up dirt poor in a third world country might instill (or strengthen) work ethic values and harden ambition in a minority but it absolutely sucks for the great majority of normal people.

            Where would you rather grow up:

            With unreliable access to food, water that makes you sick, no access to decent medical care and slipshod education (if your lucky!) No real law enforcement. The only security comes from extended family but that comes with a suffocating network of social obligations that can never be fulfilled…

            Around materially comfortable adults who don’t carry around childhood scarcity trauma with them but who often feel a bit out of sorts and uncomfortable with enough food to eat and healthcare and access to decent education etc.

            I know which I’d rather be born into….

            Liked by 1 person

            1. The most successful African immigrant in America is Elon Musk. I doubt if he would have bothered to move to America just to be a pharmacist.

              The main “advantage” that impoverished immigrants have is that they have much lower standards of what is considered success.


              1. Excuse me, but a yearly income of $200,000 is absolutely an astounding success in the US for absolutely anybody. It’s five times what a native-born black family makes.

                Seeing anybody who is not a billionaire as unsuccessful is a very strange approach to life. Musk, in particular, is a weird person to admire. Look at his pathetic personal life. I could say that nobody moves to America to screw a piece of ugly trash.


              2. I wish people stopped to consider the extreme tactlessness of saying, “your friend you obviously care about deeply is a loser because he’s not Elon Musk.”


              3. “impoverished immigrants have (…) have much lower standards of what is considered success”

                They’re also willing to live in conditions that the native born…. aren’t. They often live in crowded conditions with little or no privacy renting with people they don’t know so they can spend as little on basic live necessities as possible for relatively long periods of time.
                Most people don’t want to experience a Dickensian existence (in their own countries) for a few years on the off chance it will bring greater success down the road.


              4. But how about the people who don’t need to experience Dickensian conditions, who have every comfort but still wouldn’t even try? Those are the ones I can’t figure out. I understand people in ghettos, in chaotic neighborhoods, I get why they struggle. What about the rest? All of these really fortunate young people whining about oppression?


  1. I was listening to Relevant Radio the other day and there was a Catholic mom of 13, living in Maryland, who has figured this out. She and husband wrote a book but I don’t remember the name.

    What I remember is – beyond basics the kids had to use their own money for everything. So if they wanted the fancy jeans – their money. Most have gone to college so far, paid their own way, graduated debt free.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “people (…) who have every comfort but still wouldn’t even try? (…)All of these really fortunate young people whining about oppression?”

    I have differing ideas and haven’t elaborated them because I haven’t thought enough about it.

    One factor is the cultural value of work (for the sake of work). I have the idea that it’s lowered in an immigrant heavy economy. When a society is divided into those who need to get out and hustle with no guarantee of success because they have no safety net and those that do have some kind of safety net (family, or social benefits) the very act of working hard becomes a sign of low social status.
    It’s similar to the way that large scale entry of women into a particular field ends up lowering the social status of the field.
    It’s Turchin’s idea of Elite Overproduction (more accurately Elite-wannabe Overproduction) if you want to be elite then don’t try to work your way up, max out on educational credentials so you can enter at a more respectable higher level.


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