November 8, 2019

Fortune Favors the Reliable

fortune favors the reliable featured image
By: Nic Houle
Learn How to Think (and Act) Like an Entrepreneur Part 6/8


Many famous entrepreneurs appear to have struck gold in their endeavors. Even if we hear the origin story of their success, something is missing from the retelling. In fact, they often took years filled with difficulty and multiple failures to get where they are. At a glance, it looks like luck, a chance encounter with the right person, or stumbling upon a solution worth enough to sell it.

But, as we have discussed previously, entrepreneurial thinkers are not simply lucky, nor are they waiting for things to fall into their lap. Furthermore, their goals are rarely to make money, at least at first. Entrepreneurs are choosing goals that inspire them to continue, often with empathy at the heart of their drive. They are going out and talking to stakeholders, taking action to find meaningful solutions to problems others face. And they are building wealth beyond creating capital, be it through investing time and effort wisely, or creating a support network to leverage when solving a complex problem. All of these strategies amount to compounding choices the entrepreneur is making. They choose their goal; they choose to act; they choose to invest rather than spend. 

The compounding nature of these choices tends to act in their favor in myriad ways, some more obvious than others. Through the entrepreneurial process, new connections with people, places, and problems are often made. When a meaningful relationship is made, a spiderweb of possibility is created. Seemingly random events lead us to outcomes we might have never expected in this web. In other words, the entrepreneur creates their own luck.

More on this in a moment…

The Four Types of Luck

When we talk about luck, we typically refer to one of four things. As discussed in a 2019 podcast from Naval Ravikant, these four types of luck are:

  1. Blind luck—”dumb luck”

Fate, fortune, the universe. Whatever we call it, dumb luck is when we get lucky because of factors entirely out of our control. This is luck that we cannot seek, and it would not be advisable to wait for it.

  1. Luck from hustling—”fortune favors the bold”

Entrepreneurs are often thought of as hustlers, constantly working hard and moving forward to reach their short and long-term goals. If we understand entrepreneurs as those seeking and uncovering opportunities, these actions inevitably create chance connections.

These chance connections come from what the entrepreneur puts out and those that find value in it. So now we can see that circumstances allow for luckier occurrences to happen. What’s more, these circumstances are affected by the entrepreneur’s choices.

 We should note that this kind of luck often aligns similar individuals, hence the web of possibilities that begins to emerge.

  1. Spotted Luck—”fortune favors the prepared mind”

As the entrepreneur becomes more adept in their field of work, position in a company, whatever it may be, they will start to find more meaningful problems to solve for those around them. Some of these opportunities come from skills we have discussed before, but others come from a special attunement one develops when they are highly skilled in an area of work. For example, from an associated blog by Ravikant et al., “you become sensitive to luck, and that’s through skill and knowledge and work.”

Another way to look at this kind of luck is that by preparing, an individual can become able to see a chance occurrence, a blind luck opportunity, that others would fail to see or upon which to act.

  1. Luck from your unique character—luck that finds you

This fourth kind of luck is complex and relates strongly to the situation a person puts themselves into, but also the hobbies they explore and the company they keep. More than anything, this luck derives from what we will call an individual’s brand.

A brand is not simply a logo and a slogan, especially when discussing a personal brand. Instead, we make personal brands from reliability, persistence, and hard work. The signals you put out into the world, the promises of your brand, act similarly to the forces of motion and preparation in the second and third kinds of luck. Whether you keep these promises, however, is what makes you reliable. 

If you are at the top of your field—or on your way to making a name for yourself—and someone stumbles into an opportunity that they cannot capitalize on without someone like you to help, your brand is what signals to them that you are valuable. It is the hard work of creating value and preparing yourself for the world’s complexity that can make you attract attention from others doing the same thing. 

Here we can see those compounding connections, brought on by your individual choices and actions, that open up the web of possibility. When you enter this web, it becomes as if the universe destined you to receive the chances that you actually created through being reliable and persistent.

The power of your brand

As Ravikant says, “You created your own luck. You put yourself in a position to be able to capitalize on that luck. Or to attract that luck when nobody else has created that opportunity for themselves.”

The entrepreneur appears to be many things at a glance. Preordained, destined for success, or innately more capable than others. But what is really going on is a subtle overlay of value-creation and branding. 

A brand doesn’t come from empty promises, but by being reliable for the work you put into a project. As you prove you are what you say you are, your reputation builds. The intersection of reputation and living up to what the world says about you is what makes a brand and creates the luck that so many entrepreneurs enjoy.