Tag Archives: success

Why is George Clooney so rich?

We are all familiar with all the advice on how to get rich. However here I analyse George Clooney’s wealth and provide a possible reason for his wealth.

George Clooney apparently earns $15m per film

Assume Clooney appears for 60 minutes of a 90 minute film

That works out at $250,000 per minute on screen.

George likes coffee, in my local supermarket Lavazza beans are $30 for a 2.2Ib bag.

So if he visits my supermarket can he buy coffee faster than he earns money?

The self-serve barcode swipe machine in my local store will process 9 items a minute (thanks to help checkout guy in my local store!).

The guy on the checkout tells me he can swipe up to 20 items a minute.

So if George Clooney goes mad and does it himself he could spend $270 in a minute on coffee, or $600 if he gets the checkout guy to do it. (and that is without waiting to pay or swiping his loyalty card for air-miles (remember Up in the Air?).

This leaves George with a net profit of at least $249,400 per minute.  So this isn’t going to work.

So George likes TV (he was on it for much of the 1990s), so what if he pops down to my local electrical retailer, and spends up big on Sony 55 inch 3-D LCD TV screens priced at $3300?

Now lets assume these items are stacked right next to the checkout (to save time hauling them through the store) and the swiping rate is also no more than 20 per minute.

Now he can spend $66,000 per minute.   This still leaves him with a profit of $184,000 per minute.

Clearly consumer goods is not the way to go.

So maybe cars or houses are the go. The trouble is, with all the paper work, he couldn’t buy one in a minute.

Ebay auctions are out because they last at least 5 days.

So what if George has some help?  Lets go back to that TV retailer. Now suppose we have  his old friends from ER helping him Anthony Edwards (Dr. Mark Greene)  Sherry Stringfield (Dr. Susan Lewis) and Noah Wylie (Med Student) helping him by also swiping 20 TVs a minute. That’s 80 TVs a minute.

Now we have 4 x $66,000 = $264,000 per minute which exceeds his income.

So here could be a recipe for bankruptcy for George. Would George Clooney be so rich after that?

BUT each TV box is about 60 x 32 x 5 inches and weighs 70lbs and they dont come from nowhere. Somebody has to freight them to the store. Each semi trailer has 40,000lbs cargo capacity. So there are 570 TVs in each load.

So George and ER friends would go through a semi-trailer every 7 minutes. Is that why George Clooney is so rich?

Now allowing for backing out the empty semi-trailer from the loading bay and manoeuvring the waiting full semi into the bay, and allowing for a team of loaders to offload the TVs, even if they were throwing them off the truck, onto forklifts taking 10 TVs at a time, each trip will take at least 30 seconds to get it from the truck to the check out – that is about 30 minutes per load!

But George’s team are buying ‘em at a rate of 7 mins per truckload!!!

So, in the best case scenario the store has 570 TVs stocked by the checkout, with a full semi-trailer to go. Let’s suppose they start offloading the TVs once George’s team starting their purchasing.

In the first minute the team purchase 80 TVs.

In that time the stockers, re-stock at a rate of 10 TVs every 30 seconds.  That is 60 a minute, or a net shortfall of 20 TVs a minute!

So I calculate that after only 30 minutes of this madness, George would be the proud owner of 1590 Sony TVs, and be owed 40 the store couldn’t stock in time and in the process would still be over $10 million richer.

And that is why George Clooney is so rich.

How to get luck on your side

Here is an article in the Australian Financial Review on Luck in Careers. How to get luck on your side in your career. It is about luck in careers, luck readiness, and luck and career success.

Click this link for the article.

Click this link if you want to take the Luck Readiness Inventory.





Transform your Career by shifting: Shift 5 From Risk As Failure To Risk As Endeavour

Shiftwork is the work we have to do to manage, thrive and survive in a world where shift happens.  I’ve identified 11 shifts that we have to make (see here), so far I’ve addressed the first four, and in this post, I address the fifth shift.  The earlier ones you can read by following these links:

Shift 5 is from Risk as Failure to Risk as Endeavour.

Career Development tends to be focussed on career “success” and rarely is failure mentioned, written about or researched.  This tends to create an atmosphere where success is seen as something to be desired and achieved above all else.  Generally this is accompanied by the obverse message that failure is to be avoided, minimised, despised or feared. It is summed up in that popular motivational injunction that “Failure is not an option”.

Characterising failure in such resolutely negative terms is actually quite odd, given that we are surrounded and immersed in failures almost all of the time.  Most predictions such as economic ones, or pretty much all others in fact, usually fail (at least to some degree). Most restaurants fail, most businesses fail, most people are rejected during an application or promotion process.  Most of us fail to win the lottery or the raffle, our favourite players or teams fail to win every game, our favoured political parties fail to win government about half of the time (or a lot more!), our favourite films fail to win the Oscar, and so it goes.

Seeing failure only in terms of the risk it poses to our beloved pursuit of success is actually a very self-limiting perspective.  For one thing it immediately rules out the possibility that failure may actually contribute significantly or even be the major reason for later success.  It also rules out the possibility that valuable learning occurs when failure is appropriately reflected upon.

In a forthcoming paper (Pryor & Bright, 2011) we have identified 4 benefits of failure. These are:

  1. An Opportunity to Learn
  2. Encouraging Creativity
  3. Builds Strategy
  4. Personal/Spiritual Development

Opportunity to Learn

Put simply, Learning requires trial and error. Without the error, we never learn.  It seems odd to say it, but we learn less from success that success and failure combined. For instance suppose there was a machine that delivered gold coins if you put yellow tokens into it, but gave you nothing if you put blue tokens into it.    If you had 10 yellow tokens in your possession, you’d get 10 gold pieces and might conclude that putting tokens into the machine resulted in gold coins.  However if you had 10 yellow and 10 blue tokens you’d learn more, that not only do you have to put a token in, but it needs to be yellow.  You’ve learned more.

Failing early on in a process before too much time or effort is expended, maximises the time and resources left to leverage the learning that has taken place.  Aim to fail well and early for more rapid success.

Encouraging Creativity

The way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.  This general principle seems to be widely accepted in discussions of creativity. It practice it means establishing the conditions where people are encouraged to generate as many ideas as possible without paying attention to their value.  It is thought that such brainstorming type approaches is like panning for gold, you sift a lot of rock to get the gold.  In career development, as a general rule, the more strategies you try to land the job or promotion, the greater the likelihood of achieving this.

Builds Strategy

Once we accept that we might fail, it is easier to move forward and implement a strategy. By following Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice “that nothing will be achieved if first all objections must be overcome”, we can explore possibilities, despite the fact we might fail. If fear of failure is very strong, then we do not endeavour, and by so doing, we ultimately fail anyway in most circumstances.

Failing also helps to reveal the hidden contingencies in a situation that allows us to revise and improve our assumptions or models.

Personal / Spiritual Development

Failure is a great advertisement for our limitations to fully control, predict and know the world.  Not all failures can be sheeted home to a lack of effort, support or planning. Some “failures” are simply beyond our control.  For instance when we fail to get a job, it doesn’t always mean we made a mistake, rather it could simply be that there was an outstanding candidate up against us on this occasion.  We can be the safest of drivers, yet still get injured when another driver loses control, or a large animal jumps out in front of us.

Such a perspective allows us to appreciate the limits of our power and knowledge, and indeed of what is controllable and knowable. It can help us toward a greater degree of humility.

Risk, Endeavour and Chaos Theory of Careers

The case for the Shift from Risk as Failure to Risk as Endeavour, rests on the fact that we live in a highly complex and interconnected world where we simply cannot work out in advance all of the possible contingencies, and therefore cannot plan, prepare or control for every outcome, or even imagine every possible outcome.  This is the Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright, 2011) perspective, and for this reason, failure needs to be seen as both inevitable but also desirable.


Pryor, RGL & Bright, JEH (2011). The Chaos Theory of Careers. Routledge. UK & USA.

Pryor, RGL & Bright, JEH (in press). There’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all”:  The value of failing in career development. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance.


Parenthood and Productivity

Along time ago in the distant past, readers with long memories may recall we had a lawyer turned treasurer called Peter Costello, who urged us to have two children and then a third one for the nation. Perhaps our erstwhile treasurer had read an early draft on the research paper by Jean Wallace and Marisa Young from the University of Calgary that appears in the February 2008 edition of the Journal of Vocational Psychology.

The researchers looked at the relationship between parenthood and productivity amongst 670 lawyers from Alberta. They argue that there is a common perception that women in the legal workforce and particularly mothers expend less effort at work and are “generally less productive than men”. This is because, they argue, mothers have no energy left for work after meeting domestic duties. The opposite apparently holds for men. Fathers are summised to be more productive than their non-father male counterparts, as they feel a stronger urge to be a breadwinner.

In order to test these hypotheses, the authors compared the billable hours that male and female lawyers reported over a year. The lawyers were also asked to indicate the presence of children in their household and the approximate age of the children; the time spent on household responsibilities which they defined as cooking, cleaning, repairs, shopping, gardening, and banking. The lawyers also rated the degree of family support they received and time spent with the children on parenting duties.

In terms of billable hours, non-mothers billed 210 additional hours a year (13% more hours) than mothers. However the pattern was exactly the opposite for non-fathers – they billed 50 fewer hours (3.3% fewer hours) than their father counter-parts. In other words as the researchers expected, parenthood was an impairment to women’s productivity, but slightly enhanced men’s productivity. The most productive workers of all, were the non-mothers.

Mothers spent considerably more time in household tasks on workdays compared to non-mothers, but there was no difference between fathers and non-fathers in terms of household tasks. However, fathers supported their wife’s more on household tasks, than husbands of non-mothers.

The age of children at home also determined productivity of the mothers. Mothers with children under six billed some US$88,650 a year less than non mothers. This figure falls to US$63,900 less for mothers of children aged 6 – 12. Children over 12 in the family have no negative impact on their mother’s billable hours. Indeed mothers with teenage children worked considerably longer hours than women without children.

Interestingly the researchers also looked at family friendly policies in various firms and found that the main beneficiaries of such policies were fathers and not mothers. They concluded that there was “very little support for the benefits of family resources or the costs of working in a family-friendly firm for women’s productivity”. Indeed the main effect of family-friendly workplaces was to provide the fathers with more leisure time.

The findings appear to confirm some prejudices that the authors (at least) see in relation to women in the workforce – young children are an impediment to their productivity, but only in comparison to their exceptionally productive non-mother counterparts. This may suggest that the impact of motherhood on productivity could be exaggerated because the non-mothers may be working so hard to over-come the stereotype about female productivity, that in excelling, they make their colleagues who are mothers look less productive. It could be that women working in law firms are under greater pressure to perform, than women working in other workplaces. Perhaps if this study were repeated in less male-dominated workplaces, the productivity “cost” of motherhood may be far less, or perhaps even a productivity plus.

Finally, perhaps we need to give closer attention to the impact of family-friendly policies. Workplace policies that benefit one group over another need careful consideration. Is it really the aim of family friendly policies to provide most benefit to male employees?

what am I worth?

Last year Tom Cruise was told by Paramount that his salary expectations were too high. It seems that when it comes to salary expectations, there appears to be a large gap between our perceptions of what we are worth and the realities. Part of the problem is that most of us think everyone else is getting more than us. For instance what proportion of Australians as a whole earn over $104,000 a year and what proportion of Australian managers earn over $104,000 a year? More of that later, but first it is worth asking how do we form expectations about salaries? What is a normal or fair salary for a days work?

Scott Highhouse, Margaret Brooks-Laber, Lilly Lin and Christiance Sptizmueller from Bowling Green State University* argue that it is easy to manipulate perceptions of fairness. For instance suppose you are offered an entry-level job with a starting salary of $62,000 and you are very content. Now suppose you receive a salary survey from a researcher investigating starting salaries who asks you to nominate which category your salary falls into: a) $64,000 or below; b) $65,000 – $74,000; c) $75,000-$84,000; d) $85,000-$94,000; e) $95,000 or above. You are no longer such a happy bunny because there are four response categories above your salary. However had the list of options been changed to provide lots options below your salary such as a) $46,000-$50,000; b) $51,000-$55,000; c) $56,000-$60,000; d) $61,000-$65,000 and e) $66,000 or over, you are likely to feel a lot happier about your salary. The reseachers found if you provide lots of options falling above the target figure, starting salary expectations rose by $3600.

Notice this has nothing to do with individual competence, the job itself, market forces or any other external feature of the work environment. It is simply a matter of perception. If you think many people are earning in a higher bracket than you, you will be less satisfied with what you get and will expect to be paid a higher salary.

It is gets even more complicated because our age, gender and ethnicity have all repeatedly been shown to influence our expectations of our worth. Generally the findings suggest that females and ethnic minorities have lower salary expectations. The point is, rightly or wrongly, salary expectations often heavily influence career choices, and yet it turns out that our expectations are highly subjective and easily open to manipulation.

We are bombarded with television and movie characters who have extravagant lifestyles that manipulate our sense of a normal pay packet. The net result of exposure to these characters is the same as being exposed to a salary survey where your pay appears on the bottom rung – everyone in the movies seems to earn more than us! We see so much focus on the salaries in the big end of town that the effect seems to be a shifting upwards in what we think we are worth.

I am in no way defending fat cats, or suggesting we settle for second best, however there is a large gap between perceptions of what others earn and the realities. The report entitled Employee Earnings and Hours was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week and it provides a fascinating insight into what employees in Australia are really paid, and the figures may surprise you. In case you are wondering, based on the most recently released ABS statistics, only 3.3% of all employed Australians, and only 15.8% of managers earn over $104,000 a year. These figures drop to 0.9% for female workers and 7.5% for female managers. The average weekly total cash earnings in Australia (including overtime) was $1,102.00 for full-time adult employees in 2006. If you are looking for a reality check on salary levels, Rodney Stinson’s What jobs pay (York Cross) is a good starting point.

If our perceptions of what is a reasonable salary are so easily manipulated, and we continue to choose careers largely based on pay considerations, we are setting ourselves up for dysfunctional career choices and chronic dissatisfaction. A little reality checking may help you make better career choices.

Jim Bright is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU National and a Partner at Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy.

Highouse, S; Brooks-Laber, M., Lin, L; and Sptizmuller, C. (2003). What makes a salary seem reasonable. British Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 76, 69-81.