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Success for Dummies

Updated: Jun 3, 2019

In my interview, I remember CEO Yelena Kadeykina talk about her motivation for founding the company: "I wanted to help others accomplish what I have: if I can do it, then anyone can!" This spirit underlies everything at Hermiona Education.

All parents wish the best for their children.

and we as the current Gen Z and younger grew up with a strong drive for success in life.

Whileas success for our parents meant being a graduate of Harvard or MIT, having the perfect grades, becoming the next tech millionaire or Nobel Laureate, this definition has very little to do with reality. Now don't get me wrong, I am not advocating for not trying in school, or not going to college: education is extremely important. However, those "milestones" that we find ourselves yearning for might not be our heart's true desire - but rather the aftermath of years of societal pressure and parental conditioning. There are studies that have shown this extraordinary self-imposed pressure is not a prerequisite, and rather counter productive, to achieving success in life. In summation, regardless of your "genetic" potential, everyone is able to achieve success.

Alright, so if we do not measure our potential for success by the brand name of the university, or being able to start a multi-billion dollar company at 23, how do we tell ourselves we're on the right track? What are the right "milestones" that we should be striving for? To find the answer to these questions, we can look no further than examples of successful people from history. What do they all have in common? Some graduated from college, some dropped out. Some achieved success before they were 25, and some didn't self-actualize until their 40s or 50s. Some self-studied, others gained momentum as a result of talented teachers and mentors. Not seeing any common threads yet? That's okay, I've extensively thought about this topic (and looked into literature on the subject), and here to tell you the main ideas:


The very obvious quality of any successful person in any field is their passion, love, for the subject. Think of any famous tech CEO or artist or musician or scientist. Bill Gates or Stephen Hawking could talk about their work for hours! According to one famous theory on the topic of success by Malcolm Gladwell, a person needs to invest 10000 hours into an activity to start reaping the rewards. Not impressed by the number? Let's do some simple arithmetic!

10000 hours = 1 hour/day for 27 years. Yikes. Let's re-calibrate.

10000 hours = 2 hours/day for 12 years. Still bad. Trying again.

10000 hours = 4 hours/day for 6 years. Sounds manageable, right?

Now try to imagine. Have you ever done THE SAME THING for 4 hours every day? Practiced a musical instrument, spent time coding, read literature or did physics problems?

Turns out, this temporal commitment is actually fairly hefty. In order to stand doing something for that much daily, you must be truly in love with the activity. It's a decent test of your future in the area: after all, you'll be spending 8+ hours/day doing that for the rest of your life.

If you're under the age of 18, and you've found what you love doing: congratulations, you're ahead of the curve, and you're ready to move on to the next step!

(This is why Hermiona recommends exploring summer programs and highly rated private schools. You should begin your journey towards success much earlier than the college admissions cycle.)

DEDICATION (i.e. stubborness)

This is perhaps not as obvious as the previous.

As excelling students, we very rarely learn about failure and rejection before the college admissions cycle. Because of the school curriculum tailored to the "average," school assignments and material never present too much of a challenge, and we are spoiled by numerous A's and awards. Even though the straight-A students might be the ones going to the more elite colleges, the straight-B and straight-C students are going to be the ones best prepared for life: as they are well equipped to deal with overcoming failure, compensating by an incredible work ethic.

Every student eventually reaches a ceiling of sorts in their academic journey, where unlike previous years they visibly struggle. Maybe they come to college, and realize they are no longer the smartest in the room, and get their first C on a midterm. Maybe they pursue graduate school, and fail a qualifying exam, or get a D on a comp course. Maybe the failure comes from rejections by internships, jobs, etc.

Success is measured by the ability to fail, pick yourself up, and continue walking. Note, how failing is an absolute pre-requisite of success.

Ultimately, the people that reach the top of their career trajectory are not there because they were the best, or the most qualified. They make it there because they didn't let anything get in their way.

Once you're passionate about your life's purpose, you must ensure that there's nothing and no one that can discourage you from pursuing that. After all, if you love something, what else could you possibly be doing?


Okay. So you're passionate about something, you've invested time, and you're dedicated and ignoring the naysayers. Now what?

We live in a fast-paced world, that's based on community and human interaction. No matter how passionate and dedicated you are to your subject, in order to achieve success you will need the help and support and collaboration of other people. Perhaps that will be in the form of an unofficial mentor, a research adviser, a networking connection for a particular internship or job. Don't sit and wait for people and opportunities to fall in your path, 99% of the time they will not seek you out first.

You're left with two choices. Either search for existing opportunities, and fight for a chance to obtain them, or create your own! The first may involve extensive Google-ing, attending conferences and seminars, cold-turkey emailing. The second (my preferred method) is that most people do not attempt, because they don't realize they can. To provide an example: suppose you are a business student, and interested in joining the well-connected mighty business council on campus. However, you know that chances of admission are arbitrary and slim. What do you do? Create your own business council, of course!! While you may not have all the existing connections of the other council, the experience of starting something new and having an explicit reason to build the network yourself will be as valuable (if not more) than if you had joined the original organization.

Ergo, stop measuring yourself up to the unreasonable and unjustified standards for success that society (and the older generation) have set for us. They're meaningless, and nearly impossible to achieve, except for a select few. However, we were all brought into this world for a reason, and we all have a life purpose to achieve. Therefore, don't listen to how the outside world views your successes: evaluate your own passion, dedication and drive!



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