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. But for those who are successful now, they went from a poor or regular existence to one of wealth and riches, got there by some lucky break.

A lot of success books which talk about the value of hard work – that if you simply 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. 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 ones 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. Could have been being hired to the right company, like say a Google or Facebook, and granted stock prior to IPO. 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 abouts 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 just give up? Should you just 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 making a connection 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 “its who you know”, its more “who knows you”.

Why the maximum amount, why not the “most effective amount?” – Simple – its 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.