Three friends graduate from high school with similar academic success. But that's where the similarities end.

One of them is me.

This is how the three of us ended up more than a decade later:

  • One semi-retired by the time he was 30.
  • One works a good corporate job.
  • One is doing ok but hopes to do better.

Friend A is extremely hard working. He went to a top-ranking university in a developing country and did well academically. He applied to two prestigious graduate scholarship programs: Erasmus in Europe and Fullbright in the US. He is offered the scholarship in Europe and goes there for a year. Midway, he's also offered the scholarship in the US and decides to go there.

Friend B knew what he wanted. He got his undergrad from a top-ranking university in a developing country. He got a job at a local mutual fund. Within a few years, he became the fund manager.

Friend C wasn't too clear about what he wanted. He went to a good university in North America and got his undergrad. He did decent academically. He makes a good living working for a corporation.

Who do you think is A, B, and C from the list above? The results may surprise you.

  • Friend A is doing ok but hopes to do better.
  • Friend B invested in the stock market and over the next few years, made enough money that he no longer needed to work.
  • Friend C is me.

Life lessons:

  • In the long run, academic credentials don't matter as much.
  • Hard work is necessary, but luck plays a huge role in success.
  • Early retirement will not come from your paycheck.
  • Financial success is not everything.

All three of us are grateful for where we ended up.

Here's the original tweet:

What Matters More for Success? Hard Work, Luck, or the School you went to?