Luck plays a bigger role in success than many would acknowledge

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I always hear ads for these podcasts that have someone running a startup talk to someone who made a lot of money running a startup.

I want to hear the version where someone who did all the right things and still failed points out how lucky the successful startup was .


I didn’t watch the video, but I assume one of Veritasium’s own strokes of luck was finding a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, where Gladwell says exactly that.


Great video and very well done. I’ve always felt that luck is often overlooked and under-appreciated in success. I like the way he articulates the concept.

Personally, I’ve always felt extremely fortunate to be born with intelligence and have worked hard to develop skills and talents - yet I don’t feel particularly lucky (other than the advantage of being born into a prosperous country like the US into a relatively stable family).

In other words, in my 50 years of being on this planet, I still haven’t experienced my “big break” professionally and have basically resigned myself to just being thankful for what I have achieved in my life so far.


Don’t be so down on yourself and your accomplishments - if your avatar is any indication, you’re also an evil genius scientist and the head of the ISIS Applied Research Department.


Several times on the way through this video I did all of the following without immediately noticing a pattern: turned it off then back on again, walked away from my computer, started and then stopped multi-tasking, covered my face, held my breath, and squinted in self-protection… Now that it’s over, I remember learning in my therapist’s office at least 25 years ago that in conjuction with having been the adopted kid in a family of five the word “lucky” made an indelible mark on my brain pretty early in life. So here’s a friendly reminder to whoever is listening to please use this word compassionately.

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Sure, luck has a lot to do with it, but all the luck in the world doesn’t do you much good if you aren’t prepared to act on an opportunity. And yes, whether you are prepared has something to do with luck, too. But it’s not just luck all the way down.

Stephen King said something to the effect of “Success comes from being in the right place and the right time, but since you can’t know when the right time is, get to the right place and wait.”


The agency name did didn’t age well though.

Relieved to hear, 10 minutes in, some recognition of the role of prejudice. No doubt a great deal of our status is built around privilege, which plays a major role in the “luck” half of his analysis. One could even argue that privilege may be more quantifiable relative to “luck”. It would be quite something to see this analysis style applied to illustrate all the ways that privilege influences outcomes. Sometimes privilege makes up the bulk of some people’s success. As if that wasn’t obvious.

Nevertheless, I particularly appreciate the emphasis on sharing luck with others. That’s smart b/c you can’t control what others do (in terms of bringing luck to you) but you can however control what you do, so best to put that idea to use paying it forward.


Frank Zappa got his big break when he got signed to Verve Records by a clueless A&R man who thought that he was signing just another white blues band. Talk about luck!


Whether or not you - or any specific individual - get to enjoy prejudice that can be exploited for personal gain is the point at which luck gives you a wave.

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A certain truism - “Fortune favours the bold”. It also seems often to favour the criminally inclined.

For the rest of us…get used to it.

NO NO NO people who put all their money in Bitcoin ten years ago were SMARTER than we were :crazy_face:

I always thought that success was defined by whether or not you’ve read Rich Dad Poor Dad

Success requires hard work, luck, perseverance, starting capital, intelligence, and risk.

If you are weak in one or two areas, you can make up for it with one or two others- but the ratios are not 1:1. It might take decades of hard work an perseverance to do what a much smarter person in a position to take huge risks could do in weeks.

And if you have enough capital, you can buy the rest.

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A couple episodes of this might get as close to what you’re looking for as you’re going to get. It’s not perfect, but they tend to be far more clear eyed about the industries and companies they’re discussing than most similar podcasts.

(I just straight up delete any podcast that releases a swooning profile of a rising tech giant without real criticism and discussion of the system that got them to the point of needing a profile. I’ve deleted a lot of podcasts…)


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