Prepared for Randomness

by Cohen, Gary Sunday, March 14, 2010
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You work hard to become knowledgeable yet, admittedly, it is easier for some than for others. Even before you learn to speak a journey has begun. As a youth perhaps you begin to emulate some of your parent's beliefs regarding religion, politics, and culture. As time advances you move on to more complex ideas such as advanced equations, the teachings of early philosophers, and even how your system of government was designed to work. Later you come believe you are clearer about how it really functions. You work harder and harder. Eventually you become successful and seem fairly confident that your success formula can be repeated for, after all, it was well deserved.

If any doubt remained, so you are not fully convinced of your success, you will become so when the university asks you to speak to a new batch of students or when the industry publication chooses your picture for it's cover. Your clinging attachment to the principles of order and predictability overrun the tug in your heart that knows much of your success can actually be attributed to sheer randomness. It is not that you're not smart or that you didn't work hard to be successful, it's that something is pulling on you deep down that knows had you not sat next to that certain person on the first day of class you would likely never have become business partners. Same for being chosen Chief of Staff at the White House or being hired as the CEO of a multi national company...you get my point. How often is it said that those you meet the first day of school become your closest friends? Random luck, fate as some call it...

If success only came from being smarter, the more knowledge you accumulate the more successful you ought to be. My guess, however, is that you'd be more successful if you create more favorable coincidences. In other words, place yourself in situations where you're bound to make important connections. People who go to Harvard are undoubtedly smart, but their success is often due to the connections they make at such a high-powered school.

It's important to create favorable coincidences for your business. If your business has a single page for google to find with no updates, your chances of attracting web business is akin to winning the lottery. If you blog frequently, promote your business on other sites, fill the net with 1,000 of pages of content, your prospects go way up.

In our former business, we went to 16 trade shows per year: a great deal more than any competitor of our size (we were small). We wound up landing our largest client that made us a run-away success. The reason we won the contract over 50 competitors was that we were based in Minnesota and our client was from Minnesota and he wanted to visit family. Coincidence? Partly. We increased the chance of randomness/coincidence favoring us by being at so many trade shows. If we had not landed that client, the $150,000 bet would have been a bust.

The factors that will help you find favorable coincidences:

1. Ability to outlast the long tail to hit the favorable random event - if you can keep at it long enough, you're bound to hit a break.
2. Be prepared enough so that if fortune happens you can harvest that opportunity.
3. Expose yourself to as many opportunities as you can so your chances of positive outcomes increases. Tenacity really helps.