It’s rather demeaning for any entrepreneur to accept that they are successful because of “luck“. Hard work, smart thinking, stoic leadership, visionary thinking and such, have always been stated hallmarks of successful businesses and business people who led them.
Resilience and a never-say-die attitude come next in this listed of acceptable attributes of successful businessmen.
But rarely do people accept “luck” as an influencer in business. For years, i have recognized the role luck plays in any business. For years, i have lost business opportunities, and won contracts, equally, which could have gone either way. The same has been true for people we have found, who have helped us grow from strength-to-strength, almost at every juncture of this long and hard journey at Srijan.
There is no doubt, it has been very very tough for me. To stay on course — in spite of the huge ups and downs, financial mismanagement in terms of salary, the lost dreams, age catching up, a young son who’s future needs to be secured (and who you have to spend time with to see him grow and be part of it), and the suspect future (whether things would eventually turn out financially well and emotionally satisfying) — is not easy. One of my colleagues who has been around for just 3 of the 10-12 years of the Srijan journey, described me as “resilient” during a recent training programme. I resonate with that 100%.
As i write this, it occurs to me that finding the right people when the right projects had come through, had been a big challenge in the past. I recall sharing about this shifting constraint with my colleagues in the leadership team several times. For Srijan to become stronger and grow, this key thing – people and projects – coming together at an aligned time, has been a struggle. And i guess it would be so for any business. A lot of businesses succeed amidst this, perhaps with smart market and business skills of their business leaders, while others like me fall back on hard work, working within what is available, doing the right things and hoping for the right things to happen to them.
After years of struggle, i’m finally feeling lucky!
Things are much better now. We’re growing at a 100% rate, have a second office in Dharamshala, have found the financial cushion of a huge consulting company as a client who have engaged us with an onsite consulting team, several product startups from India and abroad choosing our (Agile-SCRUM) teams, excellent people joining us (including recently another Drupal company merging into us; and earlier bumping into a techie in Dharamshala who now heads that office), etc.
Clearly, all this work and not-giving-up attitude of 10 years and more is paying off now. I guess the ground was ready for seeds to be sown (or be dropped by birds while flying past) and sprout. So should we call this luck? Perhaps not!
“Luck’s inevitable role in business building”
May be, yes! Depends upon how you define luck. I recently came across this book called “Hearts, Smarts, Guts and Luck” which defines 4 dominant characteristics of entrepreneurs they have found in their research across hundreds of them (i guess all in US, though). However, they define luck in many different ways:
- Lucky Attitude
- Lucky Network
In the Lucky Attitude, humility, intellectual curiosity, and optimism, are key attitudes demonstrated by successful business leaders.
“The luckiest people in the business world say to themselves: I am humble enough to realize I don’t know how to and can’t do most things on my own; I am curious and courageous enough to ask questions that might be embarrassingly naive; and I embrace the “glass half-full” optimism that the end result can always be improved upon“, they expand in their explanation of lucky people. I completely relate to this stuff, as being dominant in my style of doing business.
In general, i have had this huge sense of gratitude towards “Life” (which i prefer to use over the word God). Things have been given to me which i genuinely feel are beyond my capacity and abilities (i do not have massive amount of material things – i do not even desire them – but there is a sense of “enough-ness”).
“The relationships within a lucky network are intrinsically rewarding. They are not overly-calculated or strategic but rather are friends and acquaintances who bring diversity, openness, and genuine interest in your success, independent of a business objective“, is how the book defines a Luck Network.
Apart from humility, intellectual curiosity, and optimism, vulnerability, authenticity, generosity, and openness, are key attributes that constitute developing a Luck Network. There are several examples laid out in the book by the authors, and apart from these words, i completely relate to the examples as my own experience and self-understanding.
The authors also talk unabashedly about “bad luck” as well, in their book. “First, congratulations, and welcome to the club. You are normal. We’ve all been there….”, are comforting words stated in the book.
This is the first time i have come across a book that places luck — not “dumb luck” — but he associated softer values of vulnerability, generosity, authenticity, and such among key factors alongside “Guts and Smarts” — which are the mostly predominant characteristics projected of most business leaders. This book is a relief, and a must read for all my co-entrepreneurs and CXOs who relate to what i write here.
What do my results say?
At 3 different times, that i have taken the test, the results have been
a) Heart-Guts/Luck dominant
b) Heart-Luck dominant
c) Luck dominant (when i took the more detailed test online)
Clearly, i am not Smart enough 🙂
Passion and Gratitude have been underlying principles of my life thus far. Personally, Heart and Luck are interchangeable characteristics for me, particularly in the definition the authors of the book have defined. Clearly, there is a better awareness of my leadership style that i understand about myself now.
So what next for Srijan?
The authors have also listed out stages of an organization where different kinds/natures of people fit best. For instance, most of the founders or co-founders in their survey are people with Hearts-Gut OR Heart-Luck. In scaling an organization they have found both Heart and Luck dominant people to tend to become a bottleneck, and the need for a different set of skills to be brought into the company. Smarts and Guts are the traits they have found which succeed best in scaling businesses.
Hopefully, my Lucky Network will come into play soon to throw up the right candidate. I am seriously considering to replace myself as a CEO/COO, and find the right person who finds a values alignment — or in other words does not lack Heart (but is muted about it and prefers Smarts and Guts — as the book defines), and demonstrates clarity of thinking, a strong grasp over finances, is processes and detail oriented, and knows Srijan (and me) well. The latter is important too.
I think i know who this person is — well within my Luck Network.