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Old 01-03-2012, 08:52 PM
 
115 posts, read 147,551 times
Reputation: 101
Default Are "Pursuit of Happiness Stories" possible in San Francisco today

Hello,

For those of you who have seen, the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness", the movie centers around a homeless African American part time salesman that manages to become a high powered wall street broker relatively later in life. He later started his own brokeage firm and became a millionaire.

To sum it it up, he was a person who entered a dynamic high powered career not right after college, but later in life from a low level position.

This is similar to J.K. Rowling starting Harry Potter as a thirty something welfare mother.

In other words, a thirty something or older person who had an average or below average career, breaking through later in life to tremendous success.

I know for a fact that some sectors and locations of the world such as New York City's investment banking world are completely closed to Late Bloomers. It is impossible to enter this world if you are not a 22 year old Ivy Leaguer.

Here is my question:

Let us suppose an indvidual with great inherent abilities who was not high powered careerin their twenties (they may have been a slacker, drug user, enlisted military person, graduate student in the social sciences, starbucks counter person, wannabe writer/actor, or even ordinary worker or low level suppervsor) lives in San Francisco and one day wakes up with the following types of epiphanies:

A. Rather than serving starbucks to these commercial real estate brokers making seven figures, I want to be one of them.

B. Those biographies of Steve Jobs make working at a startup sound just like what I want to do.

C. With my brains, I should be working at Google, not getting involved in four hour fringe political debates.

Would it be possible for them to break into a high powered business career
somehow or are San Francisco's business sectors, whether corporate or silicon valley closed to late bloomers?

While the Bay Area is open minded on issues like gay rights and green stuff, how open minded is it on allowing people who did not go the standard Ivy League path to have a chance.

For instance, what would happen if a brilliant 32 year old African American janitor who worked at Google, after overhearing conversations about marketing strategies every day got interested, spent every free day at the library reading about the field and was able to after two years converse about the subject intelligently with good insights, would Google that is supposedly liberal and progressive let him have an entry level job in their marketing department?

Could a 35 year old starbucks night shift worker, who achieved tremendous investment returns in their personal trading account get a job at a high powered downtown hedge fund, etc?

In other words, if someone in their thirties truly had the inherent ability to have a high level business career, but for some reason underachieved in their life, could they in somehow break into the high powered Bay Area business world relatively late in life.

I would appreciate any thoughts.

Thanks
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
2,749 posts, read 2,146,122 times
Reputation: 2172
Not likely, but that's sorta the point of having big dreams, right?
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:37 PM
 
Location: San Jose, CA
7,325 posts, read 6,053,056 times
Reputation: 4373
Sure you're not talking about going to L.A. to try to make movies?
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:17 PM
hsw
 
2,066 posts, read 4,171,365 times
Reputation: 1353
Examine career paths of highest-earning <40yo engineers in SV today...

Most are whites or Jews or Indians from middle-income suburbia in CA/TX/IL/NYC; father generally a professional, perhaps an engineer or academic (consider GOOG co-founders)....almost none from either trust funds or from slums of cities or from broken families (DNA and family values, natural selection and regression to mean all at work perhaps...NBA and NFL have different pathways apparently)

Not many from "Ivies" or MIT...no competent engineering school exists at Ivies...or at MIT apparently
Many from various state engineering schools; increasingly many who are college dropouts and are self-taught engineers (tech has disintermediated formal, bricks-and-mortar education esp in past 5yrs)

NYC is a 20th century, ThirdWorldesque town which has had zero innovation for decades...smartest kids did the Wharton-GS-hedge fund track back in '90s and early '00s....that era has been superseded by kids today who may aspire to be the self-taught engineer who may work at a GOOG/AAPL for a bit before moving on to some PaloAlto start-up, bypassing any elite college diploma or Manhattan or SF...and may simply get an apt/house in SF after semi-retired and not working 80+h/wk (if one enjoys SF daily life which is more popular among affluent yuppie salesguys, less so among top engineers)
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:22 PM
 
Location: San Jose, CA
7,325 posts, read 6,053,056 times
Reputation: 4373
Quote:
Originally Posted by hsw View Post
NYC is a 20th century, ThirdWorldesque town
Oh, really? Guess the third world is moving up these days.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:33 PM
 
Location: A bit further north than before
1,522 posts, read 1,684,080 times
Reputation: 1193
You know the guy in that movie got an unpaid internship at the very bottom, and proved his worth over the course of many years of poverty that took place after the closing credits.... he didn't suddenly waltz in and take over.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:44 PM
 
Location: San Francisco, CA
507 posts, read 511,670 times
Reputation: 303
Most startups in the Bay Area are websites. Nobody can tell who did the coding. Coders and hackers are pretty happy to talk shop with anyone, in my experience. If you've got the skills, what's the obstacle?

Funding might be an issue, but if someone doesn't need funding, I don't see any real barrier. Most startups get very little funding anyway, just enough to live in the area for a while. (Not insignificant these days!)
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Old 01-06-2012, 01:16 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
2,749 posts, read 2,146,122 times
Reputation: 2172
I'd forgotten how insane hsw is. Glad I re-read this thread
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Old 01-06-2012, 01:20 AM
 
Location: southern california
48,587 posts, read 44,653,204 times
Reputation: 39483
the folly of the poor is that instead of a series of small successes they go for the 12 ft flat foot jump for the brass ring. very few make it. this eddy murphy approach to life is heavily fed by monster ego found in abundance on the hood. for the most part TV and hollywood teach us how to fail. i know a starbucks gal that topped out in my former job and past me up after i retired.
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Old 01-06-2012, 02:56 AM
 
Location: Ohio; originally Oakland, CA
5,741 posts, read 3,175,997 times
Reputation: 4903
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huckleberry3911948 View Post
the folly of the poor is that instead of a series of small successes they go for the 12 ft flat foot jump for the brass ring. very few make it. this eddy murphy approach to life is heavily fed by monster ego found in abundance on the hood. for the most part TV and hollywood teach us how to fail. i know a starbucks gal that topped out in my former job and past me up after i retired.
Good point; just as it's better to be thought a silent fool than proven a jabbering idiot, it's better to be thought a shabby buster (moving up the ladder) than exposed as a flossy here-today/gone-tomorrow (often literally gone).

For the OP, it's always possible, with enough ambition. Age discrimination is a very real hindrance in the job market, which is only more reason to create your own opportunities.
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