Examples of Fake Bootstrapping:
- When I was 20 years old, I found an amazing job opening at a research institution. The only problem was that the position required an MD and/or MBA. I offered the director an offer they couldn’t refuse — I would work unpaid until I proved my value to the organization was at or above the other employees. Two months in, I got called into a meeting where my salary was officially increased to MD/MBA levels. I am very proud of this achievement. However, this is not bootstrapping.
- I could only make this offer because I had saved up money working nights and weekends at Joe Louis Arena for $50 per game. I spent most games working high up in the rafters, quite a feat for someone who gets sweaty palms just thinking about a plane. However, this is not bootstrapping.
- I only had access to this job through my attendance at the University of Michigan. I earned degrees in Cellular & Molecular Biology and Business Adminstration in under four years total, keeping my educational costs low and avoiding graduate school. However, this is not bootstrapping.
- I could only afford to go to Michigan because my parents spent 20 years dutifully putting money into my college savings account, allowing my college earnings to go directly into my savings account instead of being sent every month to Sallie Mae. I am confident that I achieved admission to the University of Michigan purely on my merit, earning a 3.7/4.0 GPA at a top private school while completing 10 AP classes, 3 all-conference wrestling championships, and a 34 ACT score. However, this is not bootstrapping.
- I earned admission into this private high school through a score in the 99th percentile on a standardized test I took in sixth grade. However, this is not bootstrapping.
- Guess who paid for that standardized test, along with the years of Kumon classes that helped me achieve those great scores? Not to mention the costs of AP tests, wrestling trips, ACT preparation courses, etc. I’m sure you get my point by now.
There is nothing bad about patting yourself on the back about your hard work. The problem arises when you look at your total life output and attribute everything positive to skill.
I work extremely hard every single day. I expect this long-term effort to earn me a great deal of success, measured in terms of wealth, fame, influence, etc. This is also indicative of my extreme privilege. I don’t “believe” that my hard work is correlated with success, I “expect” it.
This privilege is hard-earned. Not by me. But by my parents. In return, I do my best each day to acknowledge this gift, and live up to the example they have set for me.
Time to get back to work.