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TECH TALK: Fooled by Randomness: Lucky or Smart

May 11th, 2006 · No Comments

I recently came across a book by Bo Peadody, another dotcom entrepreneur, entitled Lucky or Smart? Here is an excerpt (via Fast Company):

Luck is a part of life, and everyone, at one point or another, gets lucky. Luck is also a big part of business life and perhaps the biggest part of entrepreneurial life. At the very least, entrepreneurs must believe in luck. Ideally, they can recognize it when they see it. And over time, the best entrepreneurs can actually learn to create luck.

Luck in business is different from regular old luck, like when you find $20 on the sidewalk. First of all, being lucky in business has an intoxicating underbelly called believing you’re smart. No one actually believes that he should take credit for finding $20 on the sidewalk. But when people get lucky in business, they are often convinced that it is not luck at all that brought them good fortune. They believe instead that their business venture succeeded thanks to their own blinding brilliance.

The big challenge is that everyone — the press, your shareholders, your colleagues, your significant other, and your parents — will work hard to convince you otherwise. They will tell you, over and over again, that you are in fact a genius and should take complete credit for all the great things happening to your company. Why? Because to them, you are one of the following:
1. A source of professional gain
2. A source of financial gain
3. A boss
4. A lover
5. Their pride and joy

None of these relationships provide incentive for any of these people to tell you the cold hard truth about your entrepreneurial success: You may have gotten just plain lucky.

The second difference between business luck and everyday luck is that luck in business can be created, whereas everyday luck cannot. You can’t will yourself to find $20 on the sidewalk. But you can create a company that gets lucky more often than the average company. Indeed, there is a pseudo-scientific formula for creating business luck. The key element is this: Lucky things happen to entrepreneurs who start fundamentally innovative, morally compelling, and philosophically positive companies.

I guess this statement by Bo Peabody sums up how I feel: Was I lucky? You betI was lucky. But I was also smart: smart enough to realize that I was getting lucky.

Somewhere, there is a connection between what Bo Peabody and Nassim Taleb write. In fact, as I read Nassim Talebs book, I could not but help think that a lot of what he says is so applicable not just to the world of investing but also in entrepreneurship.

Tomorrow: My Life and Views


TECH TALK Fooled by Randomness+T

Tags: Tech Talk

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