When I was 16 years old I met Monte Lipman, the President of Universal Records. His personal driver dropped him off in an all black S-Class Mercedez Benz Sedan in front of my high school. It was a Saturday, and he was the only reason I would show up to school on a Saturday. He was there to speak to students at a special career day.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything he said that day except for his recipe for getting lucky. It’s the recipe he says he has followed, and got him to where he is in life. So, a curious kid like myself paid close attention. Here’s what he wrote on the chalkboard.
Preparation + Opportunity = Luck
It was the first time I had seen the word “luck” in a not so magical way. When you think of luck you think of four leaf clovers, blowing out birthday candles, or throwing coins in a pond. Never did I imagine luck as something I can create with my own effort. But it made sense.
According to him, as long as you stayed prepared, whenever an opportunity would arise you would get lucky. I later found out that the quote originated from the old philosopher Seneca.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca
I want to change that equation a bit and add a new twist to it. This time, it goes like this:
Hustle + Opportunity + Optimism = Luck
What is hustle?
Hard work – Knowing something is going to be hard, makes it easier. Setting realistic expectations will better prepare you to exceed them. Many people think getting lucky involves no hard work, but that’s a big misconception.
Of course, there are people in the world who do little and get so much. But, either they had to do the hard work, their parents had to, or great grandparents had to. Somebody had to do the hard work at some moment in time. If you’re like me, and you don’t come from wealth, then your own effort is what matters the most.
Persistence – They say persistence is genius in disguise, and now I know why. If you want to lose weight you have to diet and exercise consistently. If I want to be a good artist, I have to draw consistently. If I want to shoot a basketball like Steph Curry, then I should be in the gym shooting consistently. See the pattern here?
Greatness comes from practice. Whatever you aim to do, be consistent and persistent. This will separate you from the crowd. I always think of the “48 Laws Of Power”, when I approach the topic of persistence:
“Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease. All the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must be concealed. When you act, act effortlessly, as if you could do much more. Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you work—it only raises questions.”
Perseverance – No matter how hard you work, and how persistent you are, life gets in the way. So what are you going to do about it? Quit? Perseverance is what keeps your engine going, long after you run out of gas. It’s your crazy factor. It can also be described as hunger. How hungry are you for your desired goal? These are the questions you won’t know the answer to until the situation faces you head on.
You might be thinking, “what happened to ‘be prepared’?” Nothing. If you are doing everything described above, you are well prepared.
“The genius thing we did was, we didn’t give up.” Jay Z
What is opportunity?
Hustle creates opportunity – You hustle hard enough, people will notice you. When people notice you they want to associate with you, do deals with you, invest in you, partner with you, buy from you, or hire you. When we began to do events for The Phat Startup, we were doing them monthly. Those monthly events led to people writing about us, tweeting about us, and landing even bigger and better guests. We created the opportunities to grow through consistency.
Vision – Spotting opportunities takes practice. Most opportunities come to you without you even noticing from your hustle. But, there are times when you can spot an opportunity as well. Without the ability to see opportunities, you can be sitting right in front of one, and pass it by like it’s nothing. The reason we often don’t see opportunities is because they look like the exact opposite.
Did you lose your job? OK, so your mind can either process that as a bad thing (misfortune) or a good thing (opportunity). No worries, though, like Richard Branson says:
“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”
What is optimism?
Faith – In the BIBLE it defines faith as “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” You don’t have to be a Christian to have faith in your own abilities. You may not have reached your goal yet, but having complete confidence that you WILL, makes all the difference in whether you do.
Meditation – Meditation doesn’t have to be what you think it is. Don’t think of it as something monks do every morning sitting with their legs crossed. Think of it as a way to focus on your dreams every morning/night, and as a way to keep yourself grounded among all the craziness of life.
Everybody has a “WHY?” Meditation is the 20 minutes a day you spend focusing on your why, and being grateful for everything you already have. Like James Altucher says, “anxiety and gratitude can’t live in the same head.”
Personal health (what you have control over) – It’s hard to be optimistic when you are sick. Your personal health plays a huge part in your attitude, which plays a huge part in your effort, which plays a huge part in your success. As long as you are trying to get better at least 1% a day, your attitude will feed off your progress.
What is luck?
Luck is when you hustle hard to create opportunities while always expecting to win. It doesn’t get any more technical than that. So now we can stop thinking of luck as the lazy man’s dreams and as the hustlers secret weapon. Uncross your fingers, and get to work.
Update: Monte actually hit me up a few months ago to tell me he saw this post. Now that connection was made all over again. Luck?
Some suggested readings/links that will enhance your experience with the information in this post:
“The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday – This book is all about being able to spot opportunities in the middle of misfortune. It helps you transform the way you think, by showcasing historical figures who have done it. It profiles Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Aurelius, and many more.
“Become An Idea Machine” by Claudia Altucher – Claudia is the wife of one of my favorite writers James Altucher. One thing James speaks about is how exercising your mind can help you spot opportunities. His claim is that if you write down 10 ideas a day, every 6 months your life will change for the better. Claudia wrote a book to help guide you through that process.
Posters by Joey Roth – Seeing is believing. Wherever your workspace is, you need to have clear reminders that serve as not just motivation but helps you think. Joey has a few of those posters in his store.
6 Phase Guided Meditation by Vishen Lakhiani – Free video. Perfect place to start with meditation. Recommended by Scott Britton.