The Triple Package Meets Small Business Millionaire: A Book Review

In my book “Finding Your Crack in the Market,” we explore the reasons why only a few companies create great wealth for owners. Part of the question begs the study of who these people are. Is the owner the reason for success? Does certain attitude or skill level create wild success? Or is it an ethnic or cultural advantage held by “old white men?”

The Triple Package by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld

The Triple Package by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld

“The Triple Package,”written by Amy Chua and husband Jed Rubenfeld, is a powerful commentary based on a deeply researched subject regarding successful people. Specifically, the subject explores the most “successful and powerful” kinds of people in the U.S.  Their dramatic discovery fits neatly into the well-known studies of “The Millionaire Next Door” by J Stanley and William D. Danko.

The perspective, however, comes from a different angle and is more current than “The Millionaire Next Door.”  “The Triple Package” postulates that all of the most successful people have three common elements (hence, the package) in their personalities. Success, they explain, includes a high income, high levels of education and much more power and influence.

The first of the three key traits is identified as “internal delayed gratification tendency.” The authors explain that success comes from hard work and that it will eventually pay off. Delaying internal gratification, those who have this trait work for the long run, rather than immediate benefits.

The second two elements are interrelated. They come from superior cultures, families, belief systems or high esteem. However, they also have an inferiority complex of sorts. Together, these two traits create a drive: they know they can do it, yet they feel they have something to prove to others. Combined, these three traits make up the characteristics owned by the most highly successful people in the U.S.

So, who are these people? They tend to cluster within their cultural groups in the U.S. They are Persians, east Indians, Mormons, Jewish, Cubans, and Chinese. Many stupendous start-ups include first and second generation immigrants with a similar profile. Sure, many current millionaires are old white men, but interestingly they have the same kind of drive and delayed gratification.

This does not mean that all who belong to these “cultures” are successful small business people, but it does mean they will be prepared, thoughtful and determined- characteristics that most small business owners have. Sure, luck is still a factor, but preparation and thoughtfulness is important in recognizing new small cracks in the market.

Chua and Rubinfield have taken some flack about their focus on “cultures” that breakout into ethnicity and religious persuasion. They are of Asian descent and Jewish decent, so they may have some bias. But having read the book, they make a case that they have done extensive research and did not come to conclusions prior to research. They argue in interviews that the clusters of data are clear; they are simply reporting.

The logic seems plausible as well. They argue that each of these cultural groups either come from highly respected or superior cultures (ancient cultures or high cast), or are God’s chosen people.

These ideas perpetuate a superior cultural outlook. The inferiority complex can emerge by being a minority in America. We tend not to understand or recognize ancient casts, histories or other cultural traditions, but we do acknowledge money, influence, ownership and high position. These become the sought after prizes to fulfill the ambition held by the high achievers.

The book does not dig deeply into small business ownership among these groups, but it would certainly be interesting. To some of these folks, they win by being doctors and attorneys, professors and high government officials, not necessarily small business owners. But similarities do exist between the millionaire small business owner and the Triple Package holders.

The authors have little good to say about the future of the rest of us. They say the country used to have the triple play, but that as a whole we are now lazy, want instant gratification and have superior arrogant attitudes because we lack the insecurity to check it and create drive. We used to have it before WWII, but since then we have become spoiled brats. No wonder we are so disliked around the world!

Tomorrow’s millionaire small business people will be much more culturally diverse than our current owners, unless we instill the triple package in our kids. The country is still a place for small business to succeed wildly; we may just need to have more immigrants to create them.


The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explaing the Rise and Fall of cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, The Penguin Press, New York, 2014