I came to this realization a couple years ago and I'm seeing it happen in the real world.
My first realization of this was in one of my college classes, which was split with the "cool" kids on the right half and the "AP" or nerd type kids on the left side of the room. The right half was just texting and making jokes all class while the left side was actively paying attention and giving vivid responses to the discussions.
I realized this then and it got reaffirmed in later classes when most of the people giving intelligent responses looked like "AP" kids. Their face, hair, personality, and clothes were essentially what you'd find in advanced placement kids.
The people who go out of their way to better their knowledge are likely going to be the same people who actively try to improve themselves in their careers. They are going to be the ones who revolutionize their field when the progress through their careers. Its usually people like that who are at the top of their industry.
The huge rise in advancements in Medicine, Fitness, Science, and Technology are going to be caused by smart and curious minded people.
I see it and hear about it when people start working in their respective fields. The intelligent ones were the ones getting awards in fields or making over 100,000 a year within 3 years of working and even entry level. The pay and years of experience will vary widely by the career of course. It would still be an great achievement in their field.