Researcher seeks sponsors for secrets of youth success

A Cambridge University academic is appealing for a sponsor to fund research into high-flying young achievers, which aims to translate the secrets of their success into schemes for helping less fortunate youngsters.

Nick Baylis, a research psychologist, plans to carry out 420 face-to-face interviews, and run focus groups with 16- to 26-year-old men and women from leading schools, colleges and universities, military training grounds, management consultants and professional firms.

Baylis insists it is not a study of elitism, but of excellence. The selected interviewees will be chosen for their positive attitude to life, and he will take a particular interest in successful young people who have overcome hardship, such as poverty or illness, in their early years.

Factors relating to privilege or nepotism are not part of the brief. He says: “The factors I am interested in are the ones you can introduce into everybody’s lives.”

Theories on the contributing factors of achievement include having a mentor from a young age, such as a grandparent; having a realistic outlook on life; and not being side-tracked into daydreams.

The sponsor of the “Learning from Young People’s Lives” project will have exclusive rights to the findings for several months, which Baylis plans to publish as an easy to read book.

He says: “This is an opportunity for companies to find out more about what makes young successful people tick.”

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