Today's episode highlights the fascinating topic of luck.
It explores important questions such as: (1) Do you believe in luck? (2) Have you experienced luck in your life, career or startup? (3) What role does luck play, if any, in a startup? (4) Can luck be created for oneself, or do some people just have more luck than others?
(1) Simply being alive and healthy is, itself, the great foundation of luck. We take much of life and its resources for granted -- and there's so much luck available to us, regardless of our weaknesses or starting point.
(2) You have the power to increase your luck in a very simple way. Simply, you can do it by setting a goal. When you set a goal and move towards it, it’s a proven principal that the world delivers more luck to you.
John Benzick: Greetings, everyone, John Benzick here, welcome once again to the Product Launch Rebel podcast. As always, if you like the podcast, share it with others and post a review on Apple Podcasts.
You know, the other day, I was asked to speak on an entrepreneurship panel on the topic of luck and how it relates, if at all, to the notion of successfully starting a business. It was a fascinating topic, so I thought I’d extend the conversation to you guys.
During that panel, we were asked questions such as:
Do you believe in luck?
Have you experienced luck in starting your business?
What role does luck play, if any, in a startup?
Can luck be created for oneself, or do some people just have more luck than others?
As I considered these questions, I expressed that, when intersecting with hard work and perseverence, and luck can be, and often is, a factor in successful startups. Not all of the panel participants felt the same, but
Consider that there’s a spectrum of situations that can occur for entrepreneurs;
On one end of the spectrum, unprepared or disadvantaged entrepreneurs can succeed with their startups, sometimes wildly, when they are in the right place at the right time for their product to be accepted by the market. A startup can succeed in spite of an entrepreneur’s or even a product’s imperfections.
On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve seen very experienced and highly skilled entrepreneurs that have outright failed in their startups, when the hidden market conditions surrounding them conspire against them.
Now, of course, one of the key elements of whether or not a startup succeeds is the leader of the startup.
But what I’m saying here is that there’s another key driver, and often a more powerful one, which is market timing – which often includes the key element of luck. Not always, but often, the entrepreneur has to be somewhat lucky to correctly time the demand of the market. Even if one is slightly too early, or slightly too late, it could effect their survival.
So, despite the level of entrepreneurial skill and persistence, sometimes, luck plays a huge factor.
As an example, I read a lot of rock-n-roll biographies, and what I often see is that a lot of famous musicians, especially those from pre-internet days, when they look back at their careers, they claim that luck has played a key role in that success. They were in the right place at the right time when they were discovered, or by pure accident, they were centered in a confluence of trends, bringing them a tidal wave of success, despite their artistic weaknesses.
Another example, in business, is if an industry is consolidating, either on the buyer side, or the manufacturer side. Industry maturity and consolidation (i.e. market timing) can have a huge impact on the luck, or success, of a startup.
A quick example of this would be the ski and snowboard industry, where the number of retailers have declined dramatically over the years, and the number of retail buyers for those stores have declined accordingly. So these retail store buyers are buying fewer ski brands. So, a new startup trying to sell to these buyers has a harder time getting in the door and proving itself.
And to summarize the point on market timing, to some extent, market timing is related to luck.
It’s hard for an entrepreneur to know when the timing is right. To be sure, there are ways to test the market, cheaply and quickly, but you can never know with complete certainty.
But let’s get back to the broader topic of luck, and that panel that I was on – especially in relation to panelists who felt that luck had little or no role in their success which, to me, was surprising that they felt that way.
And to me, there’s a more important thing to consider:
As I was listening to the other panelists talk about luck, I realized that the miracle of simply being born healthy, into this world, a world of abundance, particularly in the United States, in this period of history, was extraordinarily lucky, extraordinarily lucky.
In other words, luck is all around us, depending on your attitude, gratitude and perspective.
Especially since the audience that I was talking to was educated, most of which were born into middle-class families, where food and education and opportunity was at arms length, or even somewhat taken for granted.
This is an audience that, more often than not, went on to college, started careers, had access to technology, etc.
You know, sometimes we have to step back and take inventory about how lucky we are, how grateful we can be and what we’ve had access to (even if we perceive we don’t have as much as others). There is such richness, related to life in general, including for startups.
Sometimes we can become blind, our senses comatose, to the abundance and the true miracles of, and luck, in our lives.
Hey, listen, I understand that many people in the U.S. have significantly less than others, and have been exposed to obstacles beyond their control but, by and large, even those individuals, with the right attitude and drive, can create more luck than they think they can.
As I think about it, my Dad is a great example of this, which is based on the idea that, even starting with zero, luck is, or the resources for luck, are available:
My dad was born on a poor farm where his mom had a debilitating mental illness, and his father was an alcoholic, spending time in jail, and generally not available to the family. My dad hung around the wrong crowd, was once kicked out of high school, never went to college and – to make a long story short, ultimately succeeded financially beyond his wildest dreams in starting and selling two companies.
His journey, from less-than-zero to abundance, transformed his life for the better. Incidentally, even with all of his hard work and starting from zero, he has also claimed that luck played a big part in his success.
The overall point here is that, in the grand scheme of things, life itself, is truly a miracle, which is to say, luck. This clarity can elude us when we’re healthy and grinding things out day-by-day; but for those that are confronting the final moments of their lives, through illness or whatever, that clarity about the miracle of life is luminous.
I mean, think about the resources around you, things that 100+ years ago people would’ve died for: indoor plumbing; clean, accessible water; on-demand digital global communication; indoor heating and air-conditioning; gosh . . . grocery stores plump full of endless options of just the cereal aisle, 20, 40 or 100 options, how many do you need!?
So, point is, bringing this back to aspiring entrepreneurs, there is so much, what I would call, luck, out there. If you’re breathing, you’re lucky. If you’re breathing, you’re at a lucky starting point!
Hey, I’ve got one other item I’d like to share on how merely being healthy and alive, makes you, foundationally, lucky, and at a useful starting point.
The other day, I was watching a news segment about a boy, in middle-school I think it was. He was healthy, but he was born without being able to see color. He could only see in black in white. Seeing in black and white wasn’t unusual for him, because it was all he ever knew.
But one day, his classmates surprised him with a wonderful gift, and this was recorded on video.
What we saw was his classmates giving him a pair of high-tech glasses that allowed the boy to see color.
Before you know it, we see the boy breaking down and weeping from the joy of seeing color for the very first time.
In other words – to him – simply seeing color was a miracle. To him, seeing color was a lucky thing to have.
So my question for those of you listening to this podcast is, when you wake up every day, open your eyes and see in color, do you get joyfully overwhelmed at how lucky you feel because you can see in color? Are you grateful that you can see color?
You aren’t, right?! It’s because it’s become all too familiar. But, really, seeing in color, and many other small things that we now take for granted, are miraculous and therefore, I believe, chock full of luck.
Okay, I’ll wrap this up by summarizing two points:
(1) Just being alive and healthy is, itself, the great foundation of luck.
To highlight this point, imagine looking at the earth from a distance, in outer space, and seeing earth’s richness of life in a broader context, where beyond earth, in dark space, there IS no life – no trees, no grass, no mountains, no air, no lakes, no rivers, no animals, no humans, no friends, no mothers and fathers – just blank lifelessness. Looking at earth from space puts the great fortune of life in perspective. Because to be BORN, and to be a part of this thing called life, is unique and treasurable because, hey, the chances of you, the podcast listener, stepping foot on the earth, for even 10 minutes, that was by pure chance, if you really think about it. But chances are you, now, take that for granted.
Whether you live for 2 years, 8 years, 53 years or 107 years, you had the fortunate opportunity to witness, get a good glimpse of life, including all its human-related imperfections.
Summary point number two:
(2) Importantly, you have the power to increase your luck, beyond that luck foundation, in a very simple way, which is: and this is a simple secret: you can increase your luck by . . . setting a goal. When you set a goal and move towards it, it’s a proven principal that the world delivers more luck to you. When you share your goal with others, some will introduce you to resources that will have luck attached to them – which will advance you. Whether your goal is to find a new job, launch a product, or improve your fitness, you’ll be introduced to people, articles, books, podcasts, etc., where you’ll stumble across chunks of good fortune.
So, kick around these thoughts for a bit and, by all means, let me know what you think; I’m super curious. Thanks for listening.
(Oh, and if you like the podcast, please, share it on social media, leave a review on Apple podcasts and subscribe to Product Launch Rebel on your favorite podcast channel, or email me through the VentureSuperfly.com website.)