E10: What exactly is luck? Luck is commonly defined as, "success or failure brought on by chance rather than through one's own actions." In other words, luck is a matter of chance. It's the element of unpredictability in life. And it's something that we can't control. Or can we? Some people seem to be luckier than others. Is it possible to create your own luck? The answer is yes. And today, we're building your very own "luck playbook".
4 Types of Luck (2:06)
There are four types of luck: blind, serendipitous, expertise, and idiosyncratic.
Blind Luck (2:15)
Blind luck is how we typically define luck. It's winning the lottery. This is accidental luck. There's not much you can do to sway blind luck in your favor.
Serendipitous Luck (2:32)
We're adding movement into the equation. You generate a lot of energy. You start things. This increases the likelihood that you might get lucky. How so? Well, instead of relying on blind luck, you put yourself in a position that helps facilitate serendipitous interactions and force yourself to find luck.
Expertise Luck (3:44)
You may notice that something lucky might be happening where others may not notice them at all. You put in many years specializing and becoming an expert in a particular industry, and you're able to capitalize on that knowledge and eventually create your own luck because you can see trends emerging before anybody else.
This is the hardest kind of luck because you need to build a unique character, a unique brand, and a unique mindset. This is the most powerful type of luck because luck finds you not the other way around.
Increasing Luck Surface Area (6:55)
You can build your own "Luck Playbook" by finding a community, gaining trust within that community, and becoming an expert within that community.
How I Created My Own Luck (13:05)
In October, 2011, I flew across the country to California to break into the emerging startup scene in San Francisco. I eventually ended up working at a cryptocurrency company. Working here. I saw the exciting new opportunity in digital currencies and decided to invest in cryptocurrencies.
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What's going on everybody? Welcome to the First Class Founders podcast. The goal of this show is to equip you with powerful mental models and frameworks so that you can master the art of decision-making. In each episode, I introduce and apply these concepts in real-world scenarios. My name is Yong-Soo Chung and I'm the Founder of Urban EDC, an e-commerce brand selling everyday carry gear, and GrowthJet, a Climate Neutral certified third-party logistics company. For the past 7+ years, I bootstrapped an 8-figure business from scratch. And now, I'm ready to pull back the curtains and take you backstage with me to show you how I operate my own business.
Today, we're diving headfirst into the concept of luck.
First things first, what exactly is luck? Luck is commonly defined as, "success or failure brought on by chance rather than through one's own actions."
In other words, luck is a matter of chance. It's the element of unpredictability in life. And it's something that we can't control.
Or can we?
Some people seem to be luckier than others. Is it possible to create your own luck?
Let's go a step further. Is there a framework for creating your own luck?
The answer is yes. And today, we're building your very own "luck playbook".
By the end of this episode, you will know what your next steps are to become a magnet for luck.
Is this too good to be true?
Let's dive right in.
In NPR's "How I Built This with Guy Raz"—Guy asks each entrepreneur at the end of each show, "How much of your success do you attribute to your skill, your intelligence, your hard work, and how much of it to luck?"
This may seem like a simple question to answer at first, but the question is rather complex.
We will revisit this very question later in the episode.
For now, let's break down luck into four different types: blind, serendipitous, expertise, and idiosyncratic.
Let's start with blind luck first.
Blind luck is how we typically define luck. It’s winning the lottery. This is accidental luck.
There's not much you can do to sway blind luck in your favor since, by its very own nature, it's entirely by chance.
Next, we have serendipitous luck.
This is the same as blind luck but we are adding some movement into the equation.
You generate a lot of energy. You stir things up.
This increases the likelihood that you might get lucky. How so?
Instead of relying on blind luck, you put yourself in a position that helps facilitate serendipitous interactions and force yourself to find luck.
This is exactly why a lot of professionals decide to go back to business school and get their MBA. While the education is great, the serendipitous nature of the environment is a breeding ground for new friendships, new ideas, and new companies to emerge. You attend networking events and meet lots of different people within your industry.
This is the same reason why parents want to send their kids to the best schools that they can afford. They want to increase the luck surface area for their kids through their classroom environment. Their kids will meet other like-minded students and the schools may have strong relationships with reputable universities.
By putting luck into motion, you're increasing your chances of becoming lucky.
Okay, now let’s move on to expertise luck.
This is where things start to get pretty interesting.
With expertise luck, you may notice that something lucky might be happening where others may not notice them at all.
You put in many years specializing and becoming an expert in a particular industry, and you're able to capitalize on that knowledge and eventually create your own luck because you can see trends emerging before anybody else.
So let's say you're a creator and you've specialized in one niche over several years.
Now, you're completely in tune with that community's pain points and needs because you've been a part of that community for several years and everybody knows you as the expert.
Then, let's say you create a new product and it really takes off. It's a huge hit and everybody loves it.
This is expertise luck. You've put in the time within a specific area of interest and you were able to identify pain points in that community.
Now, the product that you created is taking off because you noticed a need and took action.
Finally, we have idiosyncratic luck.
This is the hardest kind of luck because you need to build a unique character, a unique brand, and a unique mindset.
This is the most powerful type of luck because luck finds you, not the other way around.
Sound too good to be true?
Here's an example.
Let’s say you’re the best deep-sea diver in the world. You’re known to take on deep-sea dives nobody else will even dare to attempt. Now, let's say somebody that you don't know finds a sunken treasure ship off the coast on a remote island by sheer luck. The sunken treasure ship is too deep for them to retrieve it. So, what do they do?
Well, they’re going to call you to get to the treasure since you might be the only one in the world who could retrieve it. Their luck just became your luck because now, you're going to get paid to dig up that treasure.
Now, let's quickly review what happened here. First, somebody found a sunken treasure ship by blind luck. Then, they came to you to retrieve it. You created your own luck through your unique skill. You put yourself in a position to capitalize on that blind luck.
As we move through the four different types of luck from blind to idiosyncratic, we're increasing the surface area for luck.
So there is a way to increase your chances of becoming lucky as you work your way through these four types.
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of luck, let’s put it into a framework so that you can become a luck magnet.
But before we get into that, if you're enjoying this episode on luck, please consider sharing this episode with a friend who might also be interested. Word-of-mouth referral is the single best way to grow the show to reach a larger audience. I really appreciate it! Thank you so much.
Now, back to the show.
Let’s put everything we know about luck and create a framework to help you increase your luck surface area.
To do this, let’s quickly review the four types of luck: blind, serendipitous, expertise, and idiosyncratic.
Blind luck is a game of chance with no rhyme or reason so there isn’t much we can do to tip luck in our favor through blind luck. So let’s skip over this one and move on to serendipitous luck.
Now, we can begin to build our luck framework.
Serendipitous luck requires movement.
So to translate this into the real world, this is your community. The people that you want to hang out with. The place you want to live to meet the people you want to surround yourself with.
You know the popular saying that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with?
This is it. So the first step in your luck playbook is to move to a location where you can meet like-minded people.
If you are trying to break into the tech scene but you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, your chances of serendipitous luck of landing a new tech job are pretty slim.
Move to a city that already has a bustling tech community and insert yourself in it.
That’s how you create serendipitous luck. You force luck onto you by being active and stirring up energy.
Now, for whatever reason, if you aren’t in a situation to move to a new city, the internet has made this step much easier.
You can find your community online on different forums or places like Twitter where you can connect with pretty much anyone.
I will say, however, that online communities aren’t as strong as being involved physically in a community but being online is a great option if you are just starting out.
Now that you’ve put luck into motion, you have increased your chances of serendipitous luck. By joining these communities, you might be invited to other events hosted by these communities or meet someone who is interested in starting a project or even a company with you.
Okay, let’s move on to the next step which is expertise luck.
We are going to keep building on your luck playbook.
So now you have found your community and they’ve embraced you as a member within it.
Great. Now, the next step is to become an expert within that community in whichever topic you are deeply passionate about.
This step may take many years. This is where you transform from being an apprentice to a master in your field.
Once you become an expert, you'll be so in tune with that industry that you'll be able to see trends before they happen. You'll predict the next big wave of innovation and be able to ride that wave. You can start side projects and see if any of them gain traction.
And perhaps one of these side projects takes off and everybody will consider you as lucky. But in reality, you've been working incredibly hard to master your craft over the years. In essence, you've created your own luck.
Okay, now, let's move on to idiosyncratic luck, the most desired type of luck.
Once you become a master in your field, the next step is to become a thought leader within your community. What does this mean?
You are the person others think of in the area that you've specialized in.
You've become the authority figure in your field.
People start to mention your name everywhere without you even knowing.
Now, you've made it to the top of your field.
You no longer have to seek out the best opportunities. They will come to find you.
Strangers will come knocking on your door with new opportunities that you've never even heard of within your industry.
Now, your reputation alone is opening up doors for you.
In other words, luck finds you. Congratulations, you've officially become a magnet for luck.
Okay, let's do a real-world example from my own life that will highlight each step of this luck framework.
Now, let's apply this luck framework in the real world. I'll share my own personal story of how I created my own luck without even realizing it.
In 2009, I graduated from college and moved to New York City to work on Wall Street as a trader at a hedge fund.
While I enjoyed living in the city, I started getting the startup bug. At the time, the startup scene was a relatively small community based mostly in the Bay Area.
In October 2011, I made the biggest decision of my life and quit my finance job. A week later, I flew across the country to California with just one suitcase.
My parents thought I was crazy switching careers from a finance job in New York City with the economy just starting to recover from the Great Recession. Maybe I was a little crazy!
But I wanted to break into the emerging startup scene in San Francisco and New York City didn't have the community I was looking for.
After flying to California, I slept on an air mattress on the floor of my high school friend's small apartment in Berkeley while I looked for a new job and a new apartment at the same time.
I got rejection after rejection for both jobs and apartments. I was starting to question my decision.
But then, things started to turn in my favor. I was able to land a job at a startup in the mobile advertising space and found myself a tiny 250 sq ft apartment in North Beach, an Italian neighborhood in San Francisco. It took me 3 full months of searching full-time.
Okay, let's pause here real quick. So I moved from New York City to San Francisco to immerse myself into the middle of the startup scene and eventually land a job in tech.
Does this sound familiar?
This is serendipitous luck. Although I felt unlucky for the first 3 months, once I put things into motion, things turned in my favor.
Okay, now let's continue the story.
I eventually ended up working at a cryptocurrency company. This was back in late 2013 when the space was still very early and not many people outside of tech knew much about crypto and its potential.
Working here, I saw the exciting new opportunity in digital currencies and decide to invest a little into cryptocurrencies.
Obviously, the cryptocurrency industry developed pretty quickly after that so that ended being a pretty successful investment for me.
Now, this is expertise luck. Knowing the space well, I was fortunate enough to get in before it evolved into what it is today.
All right, let's wrap up today's lesson.
There are four types of luck: blind, serendipitous, expertise, and idiosyncratic. As you move through each type of luck, you're increasing your chances of becoming luckier. Contrary to popular belief, luck is something that can be created, rather than something you simply wish for.
Just like how you can compound money, you can also compound luck. If you follow this luck playbook, you can eventually reach a point where luck will find you. Pretty cool, right?
Before we end, I'll leave you with one more thought.
Let's go back to the question that Guy Raz poses to each entrepreneur on the popular show "How I Built This" by NPR.
"How much of your success do you attribute to your skill, your intelligence, your hard work, and how much of it to luck?"
The main issue with this question is that Guy doesn't define which type of luck he's asking about. One founder interprets luck as blind luck, while another might assume Guy is referring to serendipitous luck.
In fact, it turns out that founders of billion-dollar businesses like Shopify, Bumble, and Slack all answered this exact same question differently.
Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke answers this question by saying that his success was "90%" luck.
Lütke compares the timing of Shopify's launch to "winning the lottery five times in a row."
Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe, on the other hand, says that she doesn't know if she'd call any of this lucky.
She went on further to say how her journey has been all day, every day, ups and downs, highs and lows, and laser-focused.
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield says that while "there has been an enormous amount of hard work by a lot of people, there is this real tailwind that makes all of that stuff a lot easier."
There's a real variance in how luck is defined by each entrepreneur being asked this question, which is why this question is so complex and difficult to answer.
So now, you are equipped with the 4 different types of luck and how you can increase your luck surface area with your very own luck playbook.
Okay, that's it for today! I hope you enjoyed this episode.
In the next episode of First Class Founders, we're talking about the hidden advantages of building an audience through a podcast. As you know, I just recently began my journey into podcasting through First Class Founders. I want to share with you my top 5 reasons why I believe podcasting is underrated as a medium and why it's not too late to start now.
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