This is how serendipity works: You either hope it happens, or you make it happen.
When great things seem to fall out of the sky, sometimes it’s just pure luck. Even though successful people don’t like to admit it, most of them were lucky in one way or another, although sometimes the luck they had is hard to recognize. Maybe their luck was just not having bad luck.
Lack of bad luck is truly one of the great blessings in life.
Even with luck, though, great things usually come because you’ve structured your life to put yourself in the path of opportunities, and sooner or later one comes your way. When it does, you’re smart enough to grab it. Then once you’ve got hold of it, you make the absolute most of it, and create even more opportunities.
If you do all of that just right, some people—especially those who make no effort to create serendipity—may ascribe a beloved but scorned quality to you: just plain lucky.
Some people are insulted by that. Me lucky? Like hell I am—I made my luck, and I’m proud of it!
Don’t bother to be insulted, or to try to sort circumstance from striving. Just take what you’ve got, and keep your serendipity rolling downhill like a snowball, getting bigger and bigger. And keep your fingers crossed, too, because shit happens. While you’re crossing your fingers, though, it’s also smart to create some contingency plans. Luck happens, too, and it’s just as important to prepare for good things as for bad.
A couple of years ago I was at an event called the Digital Media Exposition Convention, or DMEXCO in Cologne, Germany. It’s one of those global events I love to attend, because you meet a lot of “lucky” people at them, and “luck,” as you may have guessed by now, has the tendency to be contagious.
One guy I met was Charlie Crowe, who was the founder of the insanely important Festival of Media Global that I mentioned in another Cheat. When Charlie saw me speak at DMEXCO, he was impressed. I give everything I’ve got in my speeches—and it pays off. So he comes over to me and he’s like, “You should participate in the Festival of Media.” The Festival is held at various venues all around the world, and Charlie set me up at two of the biggest, in Singapore, and Rome.
As I mentioned in another Cheat, I gave the keynote in Rome, and killed it. And as luck would have it, my performance there snowballed into bigger things, including more business for Kiip.
Part of the reason it led to more good things, though, is because I kept looking for more good things. I look at every event I do as a possible springboard to more opportunity; I never do something thinking that it’s an end in itself.
If you look at something as if it’s going to be a one-off situation, it will be. People with a shortsighted approach think, “Well, I lined up the fucking thing, so I’m gonna go in there, do my shit, be mediocre, and bounce.” Then nothing comes from it, of course, so they think, “I knew it was just bullshit.”
The moment you decide to be mediocre, you lose every follow-on opportunity than can come from it.
No matter what kind of presentation I’m giving—even if it’s a private session with some business people, or a quickie interview on television—I’m thinking about something I can get out of it, and that something usually happens.
The person who approaches me may not have something I really want, but so what? Maybe later on they will, or maybe they’ll mention me to somebody else. Just being approached is flattering, and good for motivation, and it’s a sign I did something right.
The key is to be patient; if you expect an immediate payoff from everything, pretty soon you’ll be doing nothing.
When you do line up something big, you gotta double-down, and give everything you’ve got, plus everything you’ll ever have, even if you have to pull it out of your ass. It’s amazing how much impact you can make with nothing but adrenaline and a big smile.
The takeaway: Make it a mission in your life to intentionally aim for absolute excellence in all situations, because you never know what can come out of it.
That is the essence of creating the snowball effect.
First, you’ve got to know what the big moment is. That means research: studying your universe for opportunities that no one else sees, with risks or work that no one else wants.
Then you’ve got to hustle for it. Nobody serves opportunity on a platter. You’ve got to email people, then follow-up, call them, then follow up, see them, follow up, and stay tenacious until the doors finally open.
After that, you’ve got to go wherever that opportunity is, whether it’s halfway around the world, or in the worst part of town, or some Podunk place in the middle of nowhere. Those places are—for your purposes at least—all the same. They are where serendipity happens.
Then you grab it by the throat and don’t let go.
Before you know it, you’ll be rolling downhill with the amount of speed and mass that define major momentum, and everything will fall into place right before your eyes.
It’s a sweet moment—so electrifying that you can’t even know how good it is until you’ve experienced it.
It’s like you’re in a movie, playing yourself in a role that you wrote. The people who don’t want to see you succeed will jump out of the way as your snowball rockets down the mountain.
The people who want to share your success will jump on.
Everyone will ask, “How’d he do that?”
Somebody will say, “He was lucky.” Somebody else will say, “He worked his ass off.”
They’ll both be right—and good luck trying to separate the luck from the work. Once the ball gets rolling, you can’t.