He had all the wealth, prestige, connections, opportunities and access to knowledge. His courtesans also had all these though less than the king. Merchants were also privileged but needed blessings of the state to be successful.
That was about old times.
In today’s world, presidents and prime ministers run a country. Group of ministers and officials help them do it. All of them have power and prestige; but they need to be more accountable due to the advent of democracy.
Old world merchants have been replaced by large corporations. These corporations need to go by the land of law but the dependence on governments is nothing compared to old times. Some similarities with old times there.
What has changed is the distribution of power. Things like — information, knowledge, connections — which were only for the privileged few — are accessible to most of us. This has opened gates of opportunities; wealth and prestige for many.
With so many opportunities around, the bigger challenge is to know which one to be picked; but that is something that can be tackled.
Old recipe for success will be to power the opportunity with action; and a belief that something good will emerge out of your actions. This holds true but there is something more to it.
Beyond this, you need to develop an eye for opportunities when others will not see them. Get into habit of making new things — with the intent of making it better, easier, and cheaper; and not be satisfied with existing solutions.
This approach develops better and at times new solutions.
This is what drives innovation. This is what may put you on the path of untold wealth and prestige. That is what will set you apart.
That is what gave birth to the wheel, railroad, automobile, airplane, telegraph, telephone, refrigerator, and the web.
Good part is that today you do not need to move with faith only. There are scores of people who have walked on this path. They have started companies from their dorm rooms. They have created success on the back of failure.
Was it possible in old times for a company to reportedly get acquired for USD 180 million within only 4 days of launch? That too for something built on a simple idea and similar to an idea that already existed.
So there is precedence, there are tools, and there is a huge market. What you need is only the intent to make something of value.