Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Luck is what ultimately matters… but you can help it!


I read the book “the art of thinking clearly” and it got me confused - it said that luck is what really matters. The author quoted that among business leaders luck is the main indicator of their success. Not their skills or knowledge. I was confused… was I just plain lucky to have started Nozbe?

Luck is what ultimately matters… but you can help it!

If you think about it, maybe I was. When I was building Nozbe nobody knew about it. I had no platform, no following. I was just reading GTD and productivity blogs and once I launched Nozbe I just commented on one thread on “What’s the next action” blog - I simply joined a discussion about productivity apps. Well, I was lucky, the late Marc Orchant was reading these comments, signed up for my tool and wrote about Nozbe on ZDnet. Then other bloggers picked it up and suddenly Lifehacker, 43Folders, The Net Worker Daily and other blogs started writing about my new project. I really was lucky, right? Well…

When you get lucky, do you seize it?

If you think about it, Marc Orchant wouldn’t have written about Nozbe if he hadn’t liked it. With so many rave reviews - I wouldn’t have gained much traction if I hadn’t been tirelessly improving Nozbe. There would be no Nozbe now (6 years later!) if I simply focused on enjoying my luck and I wasn’t tirelessly working and trying to create more opportunities for “luck” to show up.

Hard work and great skills are important. Luck is also important… but being able to notice it and act on it is key

This is one of the reasons many companies fail. I wasn’t the best programmer on the planet when I built Nozbe. It’s not about being the best at something. It’s about acting on your passion and using your skills to build something that you and hopefully some other people might want. And then “luck” will happen to you and help you succeed. But when luck happens, you have to be able to risk taking it. You can’t be afraid of your “lucky moments”.

Yes, you need to “generate luck” by seizing opportunities as they show up

May people are afraid to take some risks, to try something and see if it brings anything. I’ve tried and I keep on trying. Sometimes the thing fails, other times it succeeds. It’s like fishing. You put it out there in the lake and hope you’ll get lucky. As en entrepreneur you risk to try to create opportunities when you might “get lucky” and when you do, you ride on them for as long as you can. Without thinking too much about it. And when you don’t get lucky, you try something else. As they say:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

That’s why even if you’re lucky but not hard-working, not many things will come out of it. So yes, luck matters, but without hard work and commitment it won’t bring you anywhere. Just like with fishing - you can’t get lucky getting a fish if you’re not there fishing in the first place. You need to “start fishing” in order to “start getting lucky”.

Question: Are you lucky? How has luck helped you achieve your success?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 /luck/