The Sticky Connection Between Smoking Pot And Being A Super Successful Entrepreneur

The demographics are in from a ripe report: The most successful entrepreneurs were once teenage rebels, they come from privileged backgrounds, and they are overwhelmingly male.

What makes an entrepreneur?

A combination of privilege, smarts, and risk-taking—with the potential for seriously high earnings.

That is according to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The scholars Ross Levine and Yona Rubinstein combed though a major longitudinal survey of Americans born between 1957 and 1964 with check-ins in 1979 and 2010—in so doing, they confirmed some of the popular conceptions of entrepreneurs.

They tend to be smart.

They score highly on a military intelligence test.

They tend to rebel.

Entrepreneurs were more likely to engage in what the authors dubbed "illicit activities" in the days of their wild youth, with teenage pastimes like shoplifting, playing hooky, assault, drug dealing, and smoking marijuana.

"The combination of 'smarts' and 'aggressive/illicit/risk-taking' tendencies as a youth accounts for both entry into entrepreneurship and the comparative earnings of entrepreneurs," the authors note.

They come from money.

As the Washington Post reports, a $100,000 increase in household income corresponds with a more than 50% increase in the chance of starting a company, perhaps because of seed capital.

They tend to be dudes.

It's 72% guys, 28% ladies in the entrepreneurial set.

They tend to be experienced.

Most were salaried workers before doing their own thing.

They get paid.

The people who left their salaried gigs to incorporate their own companies work more hours, the Wall Street Journal reports, but earn much more per hour—to the tune of a 48% increase.

Taken together, the picture painted isn't quite one of entrepreneurship as the democratizing force that it's often mythologized as—since it's still mostly privileged white guys that fill out the entrepreneurial demographic. However, we should also note that this is for a specific generation—what's the mix with the League of Extraordinary Women?

Hat tip: Washington Post

[Image: Flickr user Coconino National Forest]

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6 Comments

  • Nicks Startup Corner

    Case in point on almost all fronts: Richard Branson. Rebel-turned one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs of his generation.

    This links strongly back to Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talks- don't medicate kids who have Bipolar of ADHD- they're the most likely to become billionaire entrepreneurs!

  • Christophe Franco

    That's quite logical indeed. Many people who have problems with authority have a very hard time working as salaried workers, so they dream of being their own boss, but mostly those with significant financial means manage to do it...

  • ItTakesFaith

    Rebels, like entreprenuers tend to bristle at the thought of being confined to someone else's rules and structure. In many cases, their parent(s) teach/inspire their independent tendencies. As such, they tend to bloom when doing their own thing. Even as a very young boy, my son would often sell his lunch/snack time treats for many times their value... He is now working in development of his first soon-to-be-successful start-up...!

  • Spencer

    This article only brings the obvious to light: Privileged white kids have higher chances of success. What's with the title? There is no relationship made between weed and success (Is weed even risky?). Cocaine on the other hand...