Opportunity looks a lot like hard work

Movie and pop idol, Ashton Kutcher, made these comments at a teen awards ceremony recently:

I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13 I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof. And then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant. And then I got a job in a grocery store deli. And then I got a job in a factory sweeping cheerio dust off the ground. And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a steppingstone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.

He went on to say this about what is important, pop culture and consumerism:

The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less

An finished with a message on self direction:

Everything around us that we call life was made up by people that are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things. You can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don’t live one, build one. Find your opportunities, and always be sexy.


These comments are not important because of what he says. The ideas are simply common sense, and as someone pointed out even Justin Bieber has made a similar speech, but what is important is who is saying these things and to whom he is saying them.

This was to an audience of hundreds of teens and young adults, televised to hundreds of thousands and exposed to millions since it has gone viral on youtube.

Now I obviously don’t know Kutcher and don’t really know if these are things he really believes or if this speech is some kind of (Steve Jobs) movie promo, and I am not even sure if the audience listened to what he was saying (when the camera panned the audience it seemed like many weren’t sure if this was a gag) but this is a great message for youths to hear. And even if only a small fraction of the audience heard it, then it is still powerful.

Hollywood doesn’t typically portray its excesses and extravagances as the result of hard work. The advertising business isn’t going to ever admit that airbrushed ads and faux reality is crap. And the politicians, if they spoke honestly, would never say they want anyone other than themselves dictating the future.

Kutcher’s words are messages young people don’t typically hear from Hollywood, nor from the media for that matter, so they are important ideas made more impactful coming from him – someone that young people idolize.

Amidst the doom and gloom in the news, predicting a turbulent future, reporting on political scandals, and painting corporations and capitalists as thefts of the future, it is good to be reminded that there is no silver spoon and life doesn’t owe us anything. That we can always be honest, hardworking, good people and create the life we want, but it takes effort.

It takes many years to be an overnight success

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