It's pretty basic human nature to want to believe that our success is a result of hard work and innate talent. After all, we've heard an endless stream of rags to riches tales, like that of the bi-racial son of a single mother who becomes President of the United States or the adopted son of a carpenter and mail room clerk who founds Apple. No one really wants to spend much time on the fact that looks, luck or being born into a wealthy or influential family, for instance, play pivotal roles too.
But they do. Even as I searched for the Steve Jobs example above, I passed over Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, all men considered self-made but who came from wealthy and/or influential families. And of course there's George W. Bush.
I watch a lot of news and lately noticed something interesting. CNN's Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt. His colleague Chris Cuomo is the son of Mario and brother of Andrew, both governors of New York. MSNBC's Luke Russert is the son of the late Meet The Press host Tim Russert. MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski is the daughter of former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. And MSNBC's newest host Ronan Farrow is the child of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (or maybe Frank Sinatra). And these are just examples I came up with without really trying very hard.
I wonder, would Anderson have gotten some the breaks he did if he hadn't had access to his mother's social circles? Would a national news organization have hired Luke at 23 or Ronan at 27 and given them such high profile gigs if their parents weren't celebrities with connections to New York or Washington money and power?
Make no mistake. All the journalists listed above, as well as Branson and Gates and Buffett, are hugely talented, hardworking, brilliant people. And the point here is not that their continued success wasn't hard-earned. But there are plenty of talented, hardworking, brilliant people who never get a chance to show how well they can host a daytime news program.
Few people are shy to crow about how hard they worked to get where they are, and maybe they did. Few, it seems, are willing to admit that they got there, at least in part, thanks to the luck of the draw or their family name.