There for the grace of god

There is a load of noise on social media about a girl called Molly Mae. I’d never heard of her before. She is an influencer and was on Love Island. She is doing well for herself these days and gave a tone deaf interview saying we all have the same 24 hours in the day and it is up to you what you do with it. If you want something enough, you can achieve it. This is clear nonsense and I will tell you why.

Can afford to fail

Coming from a family with money allows you to take risks that others can’t take. Take our friend Molly Mae. She is an influencer, who has recently signed a contract as Creative Director with Pretty Little Thing for £500,000 a year. How did she get to that point? She decided on a career in social media, which got her on Love Island, which propelled her to fame and her contract with Pretty Little Thing.

There are tens of thousands attempting to have careers on social media and only a few succeed. While she had the family security of being able to spend all that time creating content for Instagram and YouTube (as someone who blogs just once a week, creating content takes time), others without the same safety net had to go out and work and earn money to feed their family.

Another example is Donald Trump who likes to laud himself as a great businessman. He is anything but. His career is littered with failed businesses and bankruptcies. But he is still a billionaire. How? Because he took massive risks on ventures that ended up working for him. Other, better businessmen, looked at the same venture and didn’t take it on because of the risks involved. It didn’t matter to Trump if he failed because he knew that his father would bail him out if it failed and it would have no impact on his life.

If you don’t have that safety net, you simply cannot afford to take those risks. How long can you spend creating content for Instagram and not making any money? What if it doesn’t work and you have no other skills or experience? What are you going to do then?

Ready Made Career

A friend of my father has a successful business that he built up himself. All of his children work in it. None of them were overly bothered with school and none of them went to third level. Once they did their Leaving Cert is was straight into the family business. If they weren’t family and just someone who applied for a job there, their C.V.’s would probably have been thrown in the bin. They now run the company after their father retired and are doing very well out of the company.

Or what about the parent who uses their contacts to get their child a job in a really good company? It is that foot in the door that can make a difference to someone, giving them the opportunity that is not available to everyone.

The choices available to someone from a poorer family just aren’t the same. They won’t be given a job straight out of school with a decent salary and a fast track to the top. They will start at the very bottom and in a lot of cases, they will stay there.


There was a report in The Irish Times last week that students of fee paying schools are more likely to progress to courses with higher points. In fact, 99.7% of pupils in fee paying schools progressed to third level education. I know, university isn’t everything and lots of people who don’t have a third level education have good careers. But I bet it is not as many as those who do go to third level. Having a good education provides you with options.

And it is not just a matter of whether you child goes to fee paying or public school, which for me is a personal choice (full disclosure, my son goes to a fee paying school and my daughter will too when she finishes national school). A child needs a home environment that is conducive to learning. They need a clear space where they can study without distraction.

I do not begrudging Molly Mae her success, especially as I had never heard of her up to a few days ago! From my years working as a financial advisor, no one becomes a high earner without working hard. But saying “I’ve worked my arse off to get where I am now” alludes that others don’t work as hard as she has. Which is an insult to so many people. Lots of people work long hours but if they are not in a profession that pays a lot of money, they will never be able to command a salary of £500,000. The average salary of a nurse is €38,362, a truck driver earns €35,650. Do they not work hard?

Sometimes, we just have to admit that we were dealt a good hand which gave more opportunities in life than others.


Steven Barrett

10 January 2022