A recently released study determined how popular you were in high school may determine how much money you make.
What about you? Were you the homecoming king or queen in high school? Were you more like Emilio Estevez’s jock character in The Breakfast Club or more like Judd Nelson’s rebel character? Molly Ringwald’s character or Ally Sheedy’s? Turns out, how popular you were in high school may help determine how much money you will make throughout your career.
The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a long term study which revealed, “that a teenager’s popularity in high school is directly and positively related to a subject’s income decades later” (CNBC ). Surprisingly, the research showed that “relative family income status plays only a minor role” (CNBC).
So, while it may be too late for us adults to reverse our social standing in high school, there are still things we can do now to improve our social standing as well as our connections, which could help increase our income. Consider the following:
1. Volunteer and make connections. Volunteer at an organization where you will be around other business professionals. Consider volunteering for a sports team, chamber of commerce, charity auction or some other event. Be helpful, positive and friendly, and you should be able to make connections.
2. Go out to lunch with a trusted colleague at least once a month. Too often we become so busy in our everyday lives that we don’t take the time to maintain professional connections. At least once a month, take a former or current colleague out to lunch. Don’t talk business; just socialize.
3. Surround yourself with like minded people. One important point of the study on high schoolers determined that “there is a lot of evidence documenting a tendency for various types of individuals to associate with others who are similar to themselves” (CNBC). You don’t necessarily have to change your personality to fit in; rather look to connect with those you are already spending time with such as those in your church, work, sports team, gym, etc.
4. Don’t ask what is in it for me. When you take action, either by volunteering or taking a colleague out for lunch or working overtime, you may get farther by just giving freely rather than specifically asking what is in it for you. Consistently give of yourself with a positive attitude, and others will notice.
5. Maintain a strong family dynamic. Coming from a loving family increases your chances of being likeable, both for yourself and your children. The study found, “there is a ‘positive association between a warm early family environment and the number of friendship nominations given and received'” (CNBC).
6. Enjoy life. Someone who truly loves life and is curious and happy draws others to himself more quickly than someone who is serious and withdrawn. While you may not naturally be optimistic, striving to be more optimistic can create a positive cycle where more people are drawn to you and better things happen to you.
Interestingly, the researchers initially thought that those who were popular were more successful because they stayed in the same area and already had established friendships and connections, which turned out to not be true. The real reason popular kids make more money? “The number of friendship nominations received is a reflection of the popularity of a student among his schoolmates, (and this was) a measure of his skill in building positive personal and social relationships and adjusting to the demands of a social situation” (CNBC).
Were you popular in high school? If so, do you think that popularity has affected your career?