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.

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

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]


About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.