You’re play basketball with some friends regularly. You find out one of them has money and is into healthy food. Well, you happen to run a health food store. He invests. Fast forward a few decades and you’re selling your company to Amazon for $13 billion.
You might be John Mackey. He tells some early investment stories on the How I Built This with Guy Raz: “Whole Foods Market: John Mackey”
Here’s John Mackey (at 13:30):
I began to hustle anybody I knew that had money. I’d already… people that knew people that I met. There was a guy I was playing basketball with. One day we’d finished playing pick-up basketball and he got into like a BMW and drove off. He was the same age as I was and I said, “Wow what does Jay do?” And they said Jay doesn’t do anything. Jay’s a millionaire, he inherited a bunch of money from his parents.
Well, I gave Jay a call the next day. It just turned out that Jay had had kind of his own food consciousness awakening and started shopping at Safer Way, he loved Safer Way. And Jay said he would put $50,000 in.
I was like, “Wow, okay.” I went back to our board and I said, “I’ve got a guy that’s gonna put $50,000 in.” They were in shock. Several of them decided they wanted to kick more money in as well.
I enjoy hearing these moments of luck
Yes, you make your own luck and all of that:
- He had to be into basketball
- He had to have a good enough reputation (friendly, smart, whatever combination it is) that the guy would want to do business with him
- He had to have a store to invest in in the first place
But it’s still luck:
- He had to play basketball with this group that happened to have a millionaire in it
- That guy happened to be into health foods in that period of time
Pairs well with…
This story reminded me of Ryan Holiday’s “Ego is the Enemy”:
With success comes the temptation to tell oneself a story, to round off the edges, to cut out your lucky breaks and add a certain mythology to it all. You know, that arcing narrative of Herculean struggle for greatness against all odds: sleeping on the floor, being disowned by my parents, suffering for my ambition. It’s a type of storytelling in which eventually your talent becomes your identity and your accomplishments become your worth.
Here’s a formula for keeping ego in check.
- When planning, plan to work hard (maybe some luck will fall your way)
- When reflecting on success, you’ll probably be quick to credit your hard work so remember to be grateful for the lucky moments