Its Not Who You Know, Its Who Knows You

As a student of the “success marketplace” (otherwise known as reading a ton of success books over the course of my life), I came to one revelation last week, which of course, is probably blindingly obvious to almost everyone. Everyone and I mean everyone, who is successful, got a lucky break at one point in their life. It may have even happened before they were born – their parents may have gotten their lucky break for them. Those who are successful now went from a poor or regular existence to one of wealth and riches and got there by some lucky break.

Many successful books talk about the value of hard work – that if you do the work – over and over – eventually you will succeed. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who worked extremely hard all of their lives and are no more successful than anyone else. The same goes for talent. The human race is filled with talent. There are literally millions of talented singers who will never be on the Voice or dancers who will never see So You Think You Can Dance. Those who leapfrogged into the upper echelons of whatever they are successful at caught that lucky break. Talent and hard work MAY have helped, but they are not a given.

Every example, from Bill Gates, to Mark Cuban, to Michael Jordan, to Donald Trump, every rich person, famous, infamous, and not famous at all, caught a lucky break. The right company could have been hired, like Google or Facebook, and granted stock before IPO. I could have been running a bakery for years until Katie Holmes walks into your store and orders a cupcake. Could have spent years working on a startup, shutting it down, and then 3 weeks into your next one, Ashton Kutcher tweets about it, and suddenly you’re front-page news.

Yes, folks, success always requires pure dumb luck. All you can do is increase the chances of it happening; it can never, ever be guaranteed. 99% of all success and self-help books are total crap in this regard – they often leave out the absolute fact that luck is a key factor in all success.

So, should you give up? Should you sit there on the couch and wait for luck to strike you? Well, no, because that will reduce your chances of success. If you look at all of those examples that I gave you – they all involve connecting with other people who can either help you directly OR know someone who can help you. You can’t just sit in a dark cave and code the most awesome product in the world because when you launch it – no one will ever see it.

People. Increasing the odds of success is all about people. Success is all about the maximum amount of people knowing you and what you are doing, not the more commonly heard “it’s who you know,” it’s more “who knows you.”

Why the maximum amount, why not the “most effective amount?” – Simple – it’s a numbers game. Like dating and eventually finding “the one,” the more you date, the more you see person after person. Eventually, you will come across someone you fit just right. Same with success: expose yourself or your product to enough people. Eventually, an influencer will get you that lucky break.

So stop sitting there and coding up a storm. Get out there and meet, meet, meet as many people as you can, not just online but at meetups and other places in person. Push yourself out of your comfort zone; just hanging out with other coders won’t cut it. Do this all the time that you can. Carve out some time to make those connections, build those relationships, tell people what you are up to.

Who knows – maybe the next person you talk to is the one who can help you succeed. But as the great Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – so…take the shot.

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