Types of Luck – Revisited

Note to future self…

Since writing about Marc Andreessen’s essay Luck and the Entrepreneur, Part 1: The four kinds of luck I’ve thinking a lot more about the role that luck plays in our lives. Today I want to write a quick update on how my views have evolved on that.

First, I’ve learned that if you depend on luck for being successful you’re toast. Your goal should be to identify your tops risks that might prevent you from getting lucky and systematically addressing each one of those. Tactically this means writing every single question you and others might have about your project/startup (your unknowns) in one column and addressing each risk one by one so that you can move it to the right column (things you know). I learned this approach from this great talk by David Friedberg.

Second, I’ve revisited Andreessen’s essay and relabeled each type of luck to fit how I think about them. Here is my take on the four types of luck:

  1. Dumb Luck: Luck that happens through pure chance with little to no agency on your part (e.g. place of birth, parents, physical appearance, winning the lottery, being Zuckerberg’s roommate in college?, etc.)
  2. Motion Luck: Luck that happens through volume of shots on target. In other words, doing a lot of stuff can eventually yield a great outcome that might look a lot like luck.
  3. Spotting Luck: Luck that happens when people get really good at spotting great opportunities through experience and sensitivity in a field, type of situation, etc.
  4. Aggregated Luck: Luck that happens when you’re so good at what you do that luck starts to find you.

I think that my view on luck has evolved quite a bit over the past couple of months. Breaking down luck this way helps me demystify something that seems so elusive. For now, I will keep working hard and see how lucky I can get(:

Now back to work…