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FCT Club


Tác giả: Lê Trần Minh Đức

Đề bài: Bạn hãy thể hiện quan điểm của mình về những ý sau:

Các nước bại trận như Đức, Ý, Nhật sau thế chiến 2 bị tàn phá nặng nề với tổn thất lớn. Sau 70 năm họ lại là những cường quốc hàng đầu, là 3 trong số 7 nước thành viên G7. Vậy, điều gì tạo nên sự khác biệt này?

Với cá nhân, tương tự như những nước phát triển, những người trở nên giàu có nhờ gặp may ngẫu nhiên như: trúng số, bán đất… thường trở lại nghèo khó sau một thời gian. Trong khi đó, những tỷ phú sa cơ còn thời gian lại quay trở lại và phát triển mạnh mẽ thành những triệu phú. Điểm khác biệt là gì?

Cùng là đi làm thuê, có những người được trả lương vài ngàn $ mỗi năm, người khác chỉ có thu nhập vài triệu. Vậy, điều gì tạo nên sự khác biệt? Trong lịch sử văn hóa, đã có nhiều kiệt tác sinh ta khi tác giả của nó trải qua bi kịch trong cuộc sống. Đó là do bi kịch sinh kiệt tác, hay tính cách nghệ sỹ tài năng tìm tới bi kịch?


For years, humanity has been blessed with people with extraordinary talent, people who revolutionized industries with their innovations, countries who rose up to power because of them, works of art, which transcend language and culture. People have always asked how they did it. I seek to provide not an answer to this question but more of 8my insight into this controversial topic, exploring it through the case studies of: the Axis Force’s recovery after WW2, successful entrepreneurs who rose up from their defeat, the large gap in salaries and if art is influenced by tragedy.

For the first question, Germany, Italy and Japan did not truly recover on their own, having a lot of help from the allied forces, with the Marshall plan going into effect to loan 15 million $ to the defeated countries, helping them rebuild the infrastructure needed to maintain a somewhat stable economy. Transport and energy systems were built in record times, notably in Italy where thousands of miles of rail were laid in just months, dams and power systems were so extensively built that it ultimately caused damage to the environment. The German hyper-inflation was tackled by creating a new money system, reducing the available money to the public by 93% which creates value to the paper. Tax cuts would be needed to increase spending and investment. After that, it was a matter of producing the right things, with Italy and Germany producing coal and steel for reconstruction elsewhere such as France, the UK who were both ravaged due to the war. Then, the Cold War came, and the countries near the Iron Curtain were heavily invested in by the US to ensure their adherence to democracy, and the Korean War which helped all 3 economies by having mass production in steel, metals and weapons became very profitable. Japan, who was still in a feudal system,uprooted their whole way of thought and adapted to the more modernized US system. They built on pre-existing technologies that the US brought over and improved it with a new point of view, thus creating a very lucrative industry, competing with pre-established Euro-American companies. The recovery of other nations was important because of the cheaper cost of materials that came from those countries, which fueled new technological advances in Japan which led it to rise up at a dizzying rate. Ideas never ran out due to the competitiveness of the new management system, and the inheritance based “zaibatsu”, replaced by professional business people, more effectively managed the money. But, aid wouldn’t be enough to propel a nation forward, the values of the countries which put heavy emphasis on perfection and learning, helped them create a stable market name which we still see today. The Japanese, in their production, strive to mak8e every step perfect to make the product perfect. This kind of thinking helps in creating trust in the nation and thus giving it a reliable consumer base. Italy, Germany and Japan tweaked their education systems to mirror the Western model , but with their own additions such as Montessori, an Italian program which focuses on hands-on learning and the Japanese education system which focuses on honing and thus perfecting the main skills learnt in school. Germany has taken a particular interest in implementing teamwork building activities to help prepare them for real world team projects. The point is that these countries, though faced with the verge of destruction, rose up from the ashes with their strength of mind, their innovativeness and will to cooperate and learn more. These countries showed that they had the patience, the resilience and the will to use the resources and help provided to them and grow.

As for the second question, people who become rich because of luck or inheritance don’t mean they will keep the riches for a long time. It all comes down to a simple principle, that if you have something, it will start to diminish sooner or later, with time. This is universal, even atoms do so, with their decay and half lives. On one side of the spectrum, if you won the lottery, the first thing on your mind would be how to spend the money, on what to buy or what to use it on. and as we know, money is finite, and it will adhere to the principle and diminish, until you are back at the starting point, “square one”. That is not including the pressures of family and friends who also change and want to leech money out of you. The people who would mostly win such lotteries or get lucky would be those who were not educated on handling money, as it is rare for a wealthy person to have time to play such gambling-esque games. The education system is also partly to blame with little to none schools teaching quality economics classes and how to use money well. Inheritances are a different story, as you’d already be part of a rich family or have been for a small amount of time. The inheritance might be big, but without the correct handling knowledge, the money will decrease as fast, because of their lavish lifestyles. Such is the story of Rebekah Harkness who was a very prominent socialite, patron of the arts at her apex before everything went downhill. Rebekah was born to a well off family which educated her well. She married Walsh Pierce an8d after a few years divorced, married William Hale Harkness, the heir to the Standard Oil Company. This is where she began to delve into her passions: art and dance. She founded the Harkness Ballet Company, and put under her patronage many influential dancers and artists, such as Dali to name. From then on, she enjoyed the privileges of the rich lavishly, buying mansions, ski chalets and blowing through so much money that by the time she was gone, the most part of the Harkness fortune was used. Her story was told again through American songwriter Taylor Swift’s song “the last great american dynasty”. On the other side of the spectrum, skilled entrepreneurs, and business people who find themselves at square one will have no problem rising, because of their way of thinking which is to learn from their mistakes and rise up. Even if the road is hard, they still persevere with their unyielding patience and honesty, trying again and again until something works, something finally clicks. The qualities that separate them from the lucky fools are that they have discipline, and know how to spend the money, and plan ahead. Even if they are driven to the ground, they will try again, building on their past failures. An example is Hershey, the chocolate brand. The founder, Milton Hershey, had tried several times to make a candy selling business, but failed. He persevered, and learned from his mistakes, focusing only on caramels, and made his first successful business. He sold that for 1 million dollars and later on, came to found the worldwide known Hershey’s Chocolates brand, a whole community in Hershey Pennsylvania which has become a very big tourist destination. The difference between these two types of people is that one learns from their mistakes and the other doesn’t. One has discipline in how they handle money and the other splurges on what the other would not approve. One spends while the other invests. That is the difference.

In the workplace, margins of pay are very different, with the lowest being around 7.25 dollars an hour as the minimum in the US to staggering amounts of thousands and thousands per hour. What makes the difference between these two? It’s all about value here. It’s a very simple principle. The demand increases the value, or more adapted to the topic, the more needed you are in the company, the higher your pay will be. Let’s say, you’re working at Mcdonalds and the lowest paying job, the lowest being a “Crew Member” at 10-11 dollars an hour, and at the high end, “Electrical Engineer”, at 10,968,346 dollars a year which is an hourly wage of about 1500$ per hour. This is because the Crew Member job requires little to no experience, and is a purely service oriented job. The Electrical Engineer job requires an adequate degree, experience, internship and so on. So, back to the principle; if you wanted to find “Crew Members” for your McDonalds, you could choose between thousands of willing people. But if it was for an Electrical Engineer, you would have a smaller pool of people to choose from and the salary would have to rise tremendously to prevent them from moving into a more profitable company. Here, the emphasis is on the amount of effort you use in learning, which directly impacts your salary, with minimal qualifications meaning minimal salaries, and vice versa. Another take on this question would be that the difference between salaries, aside from qualifications, is based on the merit of the person themselves, if they are hardworking, or honest, then they will be more valued than a deceitful, lazy person, and thus, will be put in high positions and thus the difference in salaries.

For the last question, there is no right or wrong answer for it. Many works have been influenced by one’s tragedy such as Van Gogh’s autoportrait which was after he cut off his ear. But it was his personality which made him such. However, there were works which were just influenced by tragedy and had nothing or little to do with the artist’s personality, such as Verses upon the Burning of our House by Anne Bradstreet which provides insight to pilgrim life but was caused by a natural disaster, not by her personality. Another take on this problem would be that the artists whose most famous works were created by tragedies would be that they used this to develop as an artist and person rather than on the sorrow such as Edvard Munch, the painter of the Sick Child and the Scream. The sick child was directly influenced by the death of his little sister, by tuberculosis, the same disease which took his mother too. He “cultivated” the idea for years before putting it on canvas, a masterpiece which shook the world with its grim depiction of the little girl whose eyes are looking at the black curtains, the symbol of death. It led him to recreate it 6 more times, each time with varying details, the absence or8 inclusion of details, shows how he was affected by it. When met with critical reception, he said: “I don’t paint what I see but what I saw.” , the things he experienced, led him to create works of art and move on from the past. In the world of art, everything is up to how you interpret it. The question really focuses on the artist’s mindset, how they react to the sadness in their lives. The art in question is really just traces of this tragedy that the artist has chosen to express, in their own way. But, none of this is possible without their effort and practice in the art itself to capture this emotion. The emotion without its vessel is about as useful as an artist with an artist’s block.

Looking back at these questions, one theme emerges, which is: “what differentiates success from luck”. What really separates it is not race or origins, but the quality of the being, the tears and blood shed to get to the goal, and how they persevere, and rise from the ashes of their biggest defeats. What truly differentiates them is not some magical element, but more of their way of thinking, or simpler terms, their mindset. Such is the name of the book the club organizers gifted us at the start of last year, “Mindset, the new psychology of success.” by Carol Dweck. Coincidence? I think not. This set of questions, seemingly at first somewhat socio-economic, has turned out to be a philosophical journey into what makes success, may it be in a nation, or in people and their actions themselves. The difference is their mindset, their moral values: patience, perseverance, honesty and their willingness to learn and or from their mistakes.

“When people are in a growth mindset, the stereotype doesn’t disrupt their performance. The growth mindset takes the teeth out of the stereotype and makes people better able to fight back. They don’t believe in permanent inferiority. And if they are behind—well, then they’ll work harder, seek help and try to catch up.

The growth mindset also makes people able to take what they can and what they need even from a threatening environment.”

― Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Học viên Lê Trần Minh Đức – Tác giả bài luận

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