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Most of my thought process comes from observations in my life and my surroundings. I think what sets successful people apart is a passion for the topic at hand. Nobody will do something they don't want to do for an extended period of time. Especially to a point of becoming an expert.
For example, I can go 12 hours straight during a severe weather outbreak, covering the impacts and its movement across a state or region without breaking a sweat. However, I sit down and attempt vector calculus, I barely last 1 hour before I get frustrated (I can't wait until it is done). Given this, I won't be very intelligent when it comes to math in the future, I will probably forget most of it by the end of the class. However, I plan on becoming one of the leading experts in communicating weather information and maybe even science in the country because I am passionate about that topic.
Obtaining a PhD is no simple task. It is long, grueling, and exhausting. Same goes for becoming the star quarterback reaching the superbowl. Therefore someone will only get through if they have a passion for the topic they are studying.
So to wrap up the answer, the number of PhDs, the number of superbowl rings, and even the number of people someone has slept with is just a byproduct of someone's passion for that subject.
This might come off as a little blunt, but I heard it on YouTube from a YC person. You should already know who the customers are and where they are at if you came up with a solution to a problem they have. Otherwise you have a solution that has no problem. If you are looking for connections, try LinkedIn, door to door, and stuff like that. Best of luck!!
I haven't noticed anything new, but the website crashed when I was voting yesterday.