LTE for Portfolio — morra2024

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To the editor:

Success is a luck-based random variable. Hence, the advice of famous entrepreneurs will only be useful to the lucky. In her opinion article “The Podcast Bros Want to Optimize Your Life,” dated August 3rd, 2018, the author, Molly Worthen, enamored of the self-improvement advice of entrepreneurs and self-help gurus, becomes victim of the survivorship bias by ignoring the “structural injustices that place real limits on what’s possible for many people.”

Thorough personal research as a longtime passionate entrepreneur has led me to a simple conclusion: the odds of becoming famously successful out of an ever-increasing global population are massively against us, less likely than even the 1 in 200 million chance of winning the lottery. Gurus typically suffer from the absence of the breadth of statistical analysis, which would take into consideration not only those who made it, but also those who failed in becoming successful. That results in an inability to make accurate recommendations to large audiences. Other exemplary cases of the bias are all famous Hollywood movie stars we know and love, e.g. Leonardo Di Caprio or Brad Pitt, who, despite their diligence, were still lucky at the end of the day. Not everyone wins in the game of life: the public will never hear of the lessons learnt by the thousands who failed auditions for Pitt’s roles for example, which in turn leads to the skewed perception of the possibility, probability, and difficulty of any endeavor.

Instead of demotivating us, the survivorship bias is meant to disillusion us by making us skeptical of potential moneymakers. Each of us is already a miracle, defying the odds of at least 1 to 400 trillion simply by being born. What we need to do is focus on finding the proverbial needle in a haystack – our personal and unique life formula for success using the resources at our disposal. If even that is to fail, the evolutionary primary goal of species’ procreation and caring for the next of kin will surely motivate us to do the best we can.



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3 Responses to LTE for Portfolio — morra2024

  1. davidbdale says:

    P1. This is a very fine paragraph, Morra, dense with claims and beautifully succinct. You need to identify the source of the quotation, which SEEMS to come from the Worthen article but should be identified as such. If those are her words, you might also need to explain in a word or two how she knows of the existence of those injustices and names them but somehow also ignores them. That’s pretty contorted.

    P2. Not quite as brilliant but also fine, this paragraph is still over-inflated. “suffering from the absence of the breadth of statistical analysis” could easily be replaced with a quick positive construction. “The bias” is not immediately recognized as an echo of “survivorship bias.” We’re still left to wonder what made Pitt and DeCaprio so lucky: I imagine most of us will conclude you mean they were prettier than the competition. You could say so or guide us to your own version. Your “possibility, probability, and difficulty” construction parallels the “may or may not” problem. Which do you want us to concentrate on here: the likelihood or the unlikelihood?

    P3. Not sure I understand the distinction between demotivating and disillusioning. But I’m very sure the survivorship bias does the opposite to those who embrace it. IDENTIFYING that it exists would disillusion us by pointing out that it’s an illusion. Right?
    —By the time we exist, we’ve already DEFIED the odds, so: We’re miracles, having survived 1 in 400 trillion odds.
    —Our life formulas for success are unique needles in a haystack because we each have different resources at our disposal.

    Your last sentence is a nice bit of rhetorical pathos, but it will probably not satisfy the truly driven entrepreneurs for whom simply having kids will not suffice. You must mean that advice for the thousands who didn’t get Brad Pitt’s roles.

    Impressive work, Morra. Thank you for inviting me to participate.


  2. morra2024 says:

    Feedback Please!
    Professor, if it is not too late, could I get some feedback on my work regarding the brevity, clarity, and efficiency? True to form and my M.O., I took my time editing my draft, consistently trying to use all the techniques covered in class, such as “Try to Say Something,” “Not Only, But Also,” and “Citation Mechanics”. Therefore, as a result of taking my time, I redid not just the first paragraph, but the second and third also, trying to condense the text as much as possible, while simultaneously preserving its persuasiveness.


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