How to get lucky

Swizec Teller
Mar 5, 2018 · 4 min read

I get lucky a lot.

A few months ago, a Fortune 5 company asked me to help some of their teams grok React and D3. I did. It went great.

NOTE: This is a cross-post from my newsletter. I publish each email two weeks after it’s sent. Subscribe to get more content like this earlier right in your inbox! 💌

Thank you very much Swizec. it was amazingly cool. and super clear. I had super feeling that now I know what I was doing wrong. And now I have hope to do it in cool way : — )

I got invited to speak at Reactathon in March alongside a bunch of cool people who make me feel inadequate. It’s gonna be great. You should come.

Last year, I got a chance to teach React and Redux at StubHub. Twice.

In college, someone invited me to be in the first generation of a new startup accelerator. Those were the hot new thing back then. 4 years after YC started.

And I got invited to speak at the We Are Developers World Congress in May. Another person they invited is Steve Wozniak. Wat 😱

Once upon a time, my Why Programmers Work at Night essay was the most shared article on Business Insider.

And my first book, Data Visualization with D3.js, came from Packt reaching out to me with a book idea.

My first remote job in Silicon Valley came from someone sending me an email saying, “Yo, we need help and we think you can help (and we can afford you)”.

Yeah, I get lucky a lot. You can, too.

But how?

It’s simple, really.

Think of luck as the surface area of a rectangle. One side is “The coolness/interestingness level of what you do”, the other side is “How many people know about it”.

To increase your luck, you just have to work on more interesting stuff and tell more people about it.

Let’s say you’ve just invented the future of space travel, a faster than light drive. But you didn’t tell anyone.

You won’t get lucky. Or rich and famous. No dent in the universe for you. If nobody knows, your invention is as good as useless.

Now let’s say you’re making origami paper cranes. They’re good and well done, but meh, who cares? You put up a stand in the busiest intersection in the world, Times Square NYC. A lot of people know about you, thousands see you every day.

Not much will happen. No lasting impression, no luck for you.

But what if you do something a little bit interesting and you tell a lot of people? Now you’re onto something.

Let’s say you’re selling milkshake mixers. Boring, right? But your mixer can make milkshakes faster. Great. You go out and you tell a bunch of people.

Few care, some do. You make sales, and you make a living.

But a new type of restaurant really cares about speed. They hit you up because you’re the only game in town for fast milkshake mixers.

That restaurant is McDonald’s. Owned by 2 brothers, it’s the only place in the world that makes a burger in 30 seconds.

You just got lucky. They did, too. You both got lucky because you’re about to build the biggest fast food empire in the world.

That’s another thing about luck. When luck does happen, you have to recognize it and be in a position to execute on it. Or willing to put yourself in such a position.

The Founder is a great movie. You should watch it.

In other news…

Didn’t write much this week because I was busy and tired. Workshops are exhausting. Even if it’s just 5 people in a huge auditorium.

But I wrote about something I’ve noticed in all of my training. No matter if you’re new to programming, or a software engineer with oodles of experience, solving hard problems day in day out.

Loops are the hardest. I think people just forget how to do things from scratch. Just like I always forget how Redux’s createStore function works.

And I published my first opensource React component! react-lazyload-fadein. It’s got 25 stars already 😱

You should check it out. Helps you lazy load anything onto the page and use a nice fade in effect to make it appear.

A few cool things:

Cheers,

~Swizec


P.S. If you like this, make sure to subscribe, follow me on twitter, buy me lunch, and share this with your friends 😀

Also, retweeting this is a great way to share this with your friends:

22

22 claps
Swizec Teller

Written by

A geek with a hat, author of Why programmers work at night, React+D3v4 and others