Is education really important to be a successful business person?

I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 335.1 million views in recent years.

In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues:

  • Is education really important to be a successful business person?
  • Why so many “upper class” people spend less than their middle-class counterparts, or is this a misconception?

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Source for all answers – Adam Fayed’s Quora page.

Is education really important to be a successful business person?

The quote below makes a great point. People assume education is about knowledge.

Many people think about going to university to become a doctor, lawyer, or another specific career.

However, you will forget about what you learn in many instances, even if you end up pursuing a career in that subject.

Education is often more about:

  • Learning how to learn. Basic things like skim reading, being efficient in dissecting information, etc.
  • Networking and meeting others. You will forget what you learn. You won’t forget the people. Many successful business people have used their university connections for decades afterward. In fact, some suave people do MBAs only for the network.
  • Time. As a university student, you have months to study other things outside your major, travel, think, etc.
  • Experiences. You learn more from experiences when young than just taking loads of courses.
  • Communication skills. Any courses which help you with this key skill can be incredibly useful.

Having said that, there are loads of ways to learn, and there are plenty of “undereducated” people who go on to do great things because experience is king.

What is more, nobody cares about what you studied a few years after you complete your degree. Then only your achievements in work and business tend to count.

I have also noticed that some of the best business people didn’t go to business school. Some broader subjects can be just as good for future entrepreneurs.

The point is, education if used correctly, though, can help a lot.

Why do many upper class people seem to spend less than their middle class counterparts?

Firstly, money and class aren’t always the same thing as this quote says:

In many countries, you are considered “upper-class” if you are related to a royal family somewhere, even if you don’t have loads of money.

Likewise, many sports stars and celebrities aren’t considered upper-class, regardless of money.

So, to answer your question, there are a number of reasons, including:

  1. For plenty of upper-class people, spending too much seems crude and vulgar. Not very refined. There is inverse snobbery at play here.
  2. Such people alluded to on the first point might be more inclined to spend a lot on education and some other areas of life, rather than consumer goods.
  3. Even if we don’t make a distinction between class and money, which is partly the case in some societies, people who get wealthy usually only get to that level due to sensible decisions….assuming they are self-made and don’t have a unique talent like being a sports or entertainment star. Therefore, most wealthy people made sensible business and investing decisions, rather than focusing on consumption.
  4. A lot of wealthier people are middle-aged or older. Plenty of them have tried that period where they were materialistic and it gets old. Even for the average successful person in their 30s who has made a lot of money, there is usually a period where you have over-consumed. You soon realised that having a balanced life is better, in other words not over consuming all the time, and focusing on health and family.
  5. If somebody hates, or at least dislikes their job, they are more likely to over-consume, due to escapism at the end of the week. This kind of thing can affect everybody. There are plenty of high-income lawyers or bankers who spend all their money due to this issue and keeping up with the Jones’. However, a wealthy retired person or a business owner who loves what they do, is less likely to face the same issues.

As a final comment, whilst it is the case that many studies show that the average middle-class person spends more on some consumer luxuries than higher-income people, that doesn’t mean higher-income people spend less.

Often they just spend it on other things – especially things which appreciate in value.

That watch might not go up as much as the average performance of the stock market, but it won’t lose to inflation.

Or for that matter, that education course in communication for adults could pay off multiple times.

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Financial Planner - Adam Fayed

Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 335.1 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon

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