Student Duties

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This is an interesting chapter and its final conclusion surprises me. It pointed that a supersuccessful layer would possess three features: born in Jewish immigrant family, born during a demographic trough (1930s), and his parents worked for garment industry. This conclusion looks insane at the first glance, but it is so convincing after reading examples of Joe Flom, Robert Oppenheimer, Mort Janklow and Louis Borgenicht. Their success can not only attributes to their intelligence, hardworking or good education, but more importantly due to opportunities and timing.

Being a Jewish immigrant, Flom was not able to obtain a job in first-tier law firms, so he had to do hostile takeover cases that turned out to be a prospective field in latter years. And his firm had significant advantage over old-line law firms, so it stood out for an unexpected success based on a fortuitous opportunity.

The discussion on demographic trough is the most interesting part that reminds me of a scenario in China. Chinese people have superstitious belief in twelve Chinese zodiac signs (a twelve-year cycle represented by twelve different animals), that is, the birth year is an important factor for a baby. The baby born in “dragon year” is supposed to have more fortune and intelligence. Therefore, every dragon year in every 12-year cycle will have a demographic peak. The hospitals and schools would be crowded in these years. And those babies are subject to more competition and source shortage. However, every “Sheep year” will suffer a demographic trough. It would be ironic if the author’s analysis is true, as people born in demographic troughs are more likely to be successful. Maybe it is not, because the current social environment in China is different from that in US in early 20th century.
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