One of the most important takeaways for me was at about the 22 minute mark. Jim talks about the role of luck in our lives and businesses. He asks are the big winners luckier than the rest of us and brings up the concept of return on luck and “who” luck (I’m pretty sure he mentions this in his book Good to Great).
He states that no, they are not luckier, but that some people just are better at identifying the chance opportunities that pass them and getting a positive return from them. They also are prepared to, and can, survive through the bad luck episodes to reach the positive luck events. It reminds me of many entrepreneurs stating that there are so many opportunities around us that most people do not see.
Oftentimes these chance encounters with people (“who” luck) and ideas can change your life. If Jim Collins didn’t fill in teaching for one executive ed. class, he wouldn’t have encountered Jorge Paulo and created a lasting, life changing friendship.
It’s a lesson for all of us to remember. Allow plenty of chances to encounter people and ideas that can potentially change your life. Read widely and meet widely. I try to keep my mind as open as possible to be able to identify these events. It only takes a few great ideas and people to really change our lives.
Transcript from Presentation:
It’s funny about life so we’re talking earlier about people, right? And one of the things that we’ve learned in our work is that we were very interested in the question of what role do luck events play right because life has got good luck and it’s got bad luck. Then the question becomes when you study about the question of luck, you actually quantify it and and defined in a rigorous way. You begin to ask the question are big winners in fact luckier than their comparisons and, just as an aside, you find the answers no they’re not.
What they do get is a higher return on luck. They get more of the luck events whether they be good luck or bad luck. But there’s a special type of luck which is called “who” luck. It’s the luck of a great mentor, a great friend.
It’s stumbling across some fortuitous intersection of life where you cross paths with somebody who could potentially completely change your life. That’s the luck event.
Then the question becomes, what happens with that and with the relationship? So our luck event was there was a person who was going to be teaching a section of an executive education course. I can’t remember why I got tossed in there. I was way too young to do this. I think I was like 31 or 32 years old.
Anyways, I went and I was teaching this executive course and sitting in the front row was Jorge Paulo. I had no idea who Jorge Paulo was. So I go off and I’m starting to talk about Walmart and what Walmart did. What Sam did and you know all these sorts of things. Jorge Paulo is looking at me and starts to argue with me which is so this is great. He’s like, “No, I don’t think that’s how Sam thought about it at all. I think he was more thinking about this.” We went back and forth. I said this is what the research says.
Finally, Jorge Paulo says, “Well, Sam’s a friend of mine.” That sort of trumped the data. We then ended up with our argument continuing in to the hall. And the real question was that really ignited our conversation was a question that I have for Jorge Paulo which is are you really building something to last? And what would it take to do that. He said, “Yes, I think we are,” and that ignited what is now a 25-year friendship. That’s how we
started great luck event.