Success = 75% Hustle + 25% Luck

Tim Krauskopf, one of our closest mentors at GiveForward, gave us  a great piece of advice when we were going through a rough patch a while back.  He said:

“When times are good, don’t give yourself too much credit.  When times are bad, don’t give yourself too much blame.”

I heard a similar piece of advice from TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington last night at a Founder Showcase event where  he was speaking.  He said:

“When you’re successful, don’t pat yourself on the back too much because a lot of it is luck.”

I think this advice from Tim and Mike is incredibly valuable for entrepreneurs to recognize.   There is SOOOO much stuff that is out of your control when you are running a startup that blaming yourself for the failures or patting yourself on the back for your success is a waste of time and emotional energy.

In reality, all you can do as a startup founder is work your ass off  in order to put yourself in a position where you can get lucky.  I wrote a blog post a while back on how to get accepted into Excelerate Labs startup accelerator.  Getting into this program forever changed the trajectory of our company, but I’ll be the first to admit that so much of it was just luck and good timing. In that post, I wrote that there were four steps on how to get accepted.  The first three steps can more or less be summed up as “be a hustler and put yourself in the best position possible to get lucky”.  The last step is “get lucky”.  That’s not just a formula for getting into a startup accelerator.  I think it’s a formula for everything in life.

Success = 75%  hustle + 25% luck.

Take the luck out of the equation and instead of success, you have failure.  Knowing this makes you both humble and self-confident at the same time.

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18 thoughts on “Success = 75% Hustle + 25% Luck

  1. Jason W says:

    Great post Ethan!

  2. Michael Arrington says:

    great post.

  3. Rob Kwok says:

    totally agree! We had a similar experience at Crittercism – the good times were amazing, the bad times were humbling, but what pulled us along was hustle.

  4. smallbizlady says:

    I agree with the general idea in the piece, but it’s funny I get luckier the harder I work and the better i follow-up. Timing definitely plays a factor in success, as does self-confidence, but luck has little to do with it.

    Melinda F. Emerson
    @Smallbizlady

    • ethanaustin1 says:

      Thanks Melinda. I’m definitely a firm believer that you make your own luck in life. I have a framed picture I used to keep over my desk that said “a wishbone ain’t going to get you as far in life as a backbone.” That said, I still think you need to catch some good breaks every now an then to be successful.

  5. Deric says:

    Thanks Ethan.

    To add on:
    At times ignore even what a “proven” entrepreneur tells you or when that chap tries to demean your journey,which initially we thought that’s a “great insight” shared by someone “proven” but it was proven way wrong and a really bad advice. Looking back it’s a great learning to go ahead with your heart even when someone tells you not to.

    • ethanaustin1 says:

      Great point. I actually have an upcoming blog post on this exact subject. Keep your eyes peeled.

    • Rob Kwok says:

      Deric – That’s a great point. Advice is always tricky – it can be either totally right or totally wrong. I think what’s important there is to listen to the reasoning behind the advice and evaluate it and learn from it.

      • ethanaustin1 says:

        I think it’s also important to recognize that “advice” is almost always drawn from the individual’s personal experience. That person may have limited experience and it may not be applicable to your own situation. Furthermore, just because someone did something one way, it doesn’t mean that the reason they succeeded is because they did it that way. Often times they succeeded in spite of some of the decisions they made :)

  6. [...] kept hustling and eventually we put ourselves in a position to catch a few lucky breaks. But it took us two years of bootstrapping without salaries before we got to that point! So if [...]

  7. [...] Get Lucky. Our company, GiveForward, is a crowdfunding platform for out-of-pocket medical expenses. [...]

  8. [...] up the dude who already showed he could execute by organizing the event.  Marc showed up.  He put himself into a position to get lucky and now he is on the founding team for a great, VC-backed [...]

  9. To command would be to serve, anything and absolutely nothing less.
    Family farms and smaller businesses are the backbone of our communities.

  10. [...] Get lucky. Our company, GiveForward, is a crowdfunding platform for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Coincidentally, right before we applied, the director of Excelerate had come across a situation where his wife’s colleague needed to raise money for medical expenses, so he immediately saw the need for our services. Moral of the story – no matter how awesome your company is, sometimes it really just comes down to being in the right place at the right time. [...]

  11. […] without the help of others.  What many of us forget  is that the real equation for success is smarts + hard work + a good amount of LUCK.  Our first mentor and board member, Tim Krauskoph shared this wisdom with us in 2010 two years […]

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