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As someone who fits that profile with scary accuracy, I can maybe elaborate on the phenomenon. Asian-American children grow up with much external motivation, which gives them a sense of purpose and work ethic. The problem is, external motivation alone can only help in accomplishing mechanical goals that require little creativity or thought and have clear cut evaluation systems. This is not a problem for taking tests, banging out classical piano pieces with no expression, gaming the college admission system, or editing financial models.

But of course after the shelter of academia is left behind, we find ourselves in a world that has no strict system of evaluation. This is where Asian-Americans seem to struggle. I know I do. What makes a trend take off? What does success even mean anymore? I think this is what makes Asian-Americans grasp for job options that are able to provide external motivation and reward which manifests itself in a more conservative attitude.

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