Can kids from a poor background ever outperform rich kids? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Bernie Klinder, Serial Entrepreneur, Investor, Consultant, on Quora:

Can kids from a poor background ever outperform rich kids? Absolutely, and it happens every day.

Kids coming from wealthy families have a huge head start, and a financial fall back/safety net if they get into trouble. They are born on 3rd base, and making a home run is fairly easy. I've had classmates that got brand new BMW's when they were 16, houses for wedding presents, and college fully paid for. Even if they failed at life, the bank of Mom & Dad bailed them out and they stand to inherit +$10 million, so they don't even worry about retirement.

But in my experience, the primary motivator in life for many of them is simply to meet their parents expectations. There is no fire in their gut, no grit, no desire to wander too far out of their comfort zone. (Caveat: Yes, there are of course exceptions - I don't mean everybody born into wealthy families. There are some families that instill a competitive spirit and drive into their kids that go onto amazing things. But there are very many more that don't.)

If you look at the top self-made (vs inherited) wealthy people: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Mark Zukerberg, etc., they may not have been from poor families but they weren't the richest kids in high school or college either. And according to some surveys and Thomas Stanley in the book "The Millionaire Next Store", the majority of new millionaires in the United States are first generation immigrants. Almost the same is true for Canada, where nearly half of the millionaires are immigrants or first generation Canadians who made their wealthy after coming to Canada.

Personally, I know many very successful people who grew up poor and are firmly in the 1% (and .1%). I've also known several people born into wealthy families that struggled with wealth their entire lives.

When I was 18, I met a young man my age who had everything, including his own business when he was 18. He looked like Val Kilmer, and his Dad was a successful executive who gave his son everything you could want: Luxury car, paid for college and law school, furnished apartment, nearly unlimited spending, bought him a house when he graduated, etc. All this just made him arrogant, and he thought he was so much better than everyone else. I lost track of him for a few years, and looked him up 15 years later and saw that started an investment consulting business. He bragged to me that he was making +20k a month in income. Of course I was envious, and wished I had the head start he did. He had it all. But then about a month later I discovered he shot himself, leaving behind his wife and two kids.

Any envy I had, not just for him but any kid born into wealth, was gone - forever. I've had a few other friends born into wealth that also imploded, destroying themselves with drugs and alcohol and dying young. Now I cherish the hardships I've had, because that pressure molded the bricks that are the foundation of my life. I have a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment for crushing the obstacles in my way. I'm not insecure about my life because it wasn't handed to me.

If you're looking around to compare yourself to the guy in the other lane, you'll lose. Always run your own race. Focus on your win and getting better than you were the day before. My advice is to stop worrying about what advantages other people may have (or that you perceive them to have), but focus on leveraging what you have, and what you can do with it. You have the sum of human knowledge at your fingertips and can literally learn anything you want to. Ivy league schools put their lectures and materials online for free. Quora is filled with experts that can help you. It's easier than ever to be an entrepreneur, raise money, and start a business.

Stop looking at all the walls and obstacles as real barriers and start pushing them a bit. You'll find most fall over pretty easily with a slight push. Read biographies of people you admire and you'll find out that what they faced was in many cases as big or bigger than what you're facing. Just light that fire within you and get going. Your opportunities are only limited by your mindset.

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