Most people believe luck and opportunity seem out of our control, it’s something we’re gifted with every now and then. This is wrong. You can increase your luck and the opportunities derived from luck by increasing your “surface area”. As you widen your “surface area” there’s more chance for luck to fall into this broadening surface.
I realized this while living in London and spending my time meeting new people. For 6 months I would attend Meetups throughout London 6 nights per week. Now this is an extreme and I wouldn’t recommend it to others due to burnout. But… This extreme example provides a glimpse into the benefits of putting yourself out there, either in the real world or the digital realm (more on this later).
During this timeframe, I met physicists, quantum computing engineers, astronomers, blockchain engineers, many VCs, journalists, etc. This led to a long list of opportunities such as collaborating on projects, hosting intellectual gatherings, advising startups, the list goes on. In this short timeframe, I had more opportunities than I’ve ever had in my life.
It’s important to note you don’t have to move to a city to expand your “surface area”, but I do believe intentionally putting yourself out there is key.
Another way of thinking about this process is to create friction leading to strategic spontaneity. Let’s focus on the word “friction”. A question I’ve asked myself in the previous months is “Are you creating friction?”. In this context “friction” refers to taking action, getting out there online or in person to share ideas with interesting people. For me, it’s easy to stay in solitude reading books, listening to podcasts, watching lectures, etc., but it’s rare in those moments that I am able to create spontaneous opportunity and luck. Opportunity and luck happen through engaging the outside world, not thinking deep thoughts without any external interaction.
FYI I’m writing this as a reminder to myself. 😉
In the last 2-years, I’ve forgotten the importance of this practice once I moved to a smaller town. Now it’s time to get back in the game and start creating friction.
My approach is different this time. I live in a smaller town and the likelihood of finding 6 in-person meetups a week inhabited by people with aligned interests and ambitions is low. Here’s my tactic going forward… We’ll see if it works.
I’ll lead with online activities, which allows me to cast a wider net and find like-minded folks. This is a multiple-pronged approach.
- Content: First I’d like to sustain a cadence of putting out at least one research piece bi-weekly. The form this takes is still uncertain, but it’s either a video or podcast.
- Creation: Next it’s time I create my own meetup, instead of attending and hosting others. Again, the structure, cadence, content, expectations, etc. is uncertain. I am certain I’ll have high expectations for attendees and it’ll be a small group, so we’re able to have meaningful conversations.
- Cold/Warm Outreach: Contact people I admire, am interested in, inspired by, etc., and provide upfront value. Hopefully, but unlikely in return they’ll be willing to set aside 30 minutes to chat about mutual interests.
- Join: Last and the easiest, is to attend 2 online meetups a week, bumping it up to 3 on non-travel weeks.
Real-world events will be tricky, so I’ll need to get creative.
- Join: At a minimum I’ll attend 1 event a week in-person surrounded by people with similar interests and/or ambitions. I’ve found a few in the previous 2-weeks, so I’m hopeful, but not relying on this channel.
- Budget: Pulled this idea from “The Startup Of You”. I’ll set aside a quarterly budget used for traveling to larger cities and creating strategic spontaneous interactions. These can be hackathons, conferences, dinners, etc. I need enough courage to get on the plane and spend the money. HA!
This is where the curveball ideas come in! I could ignore all the above and commit to creating the one-millionth informational interview podcast, tailoring it toward people with shared interests and ambitions. I would mimic other podcasts (cadence, style, etc.) until I’ve built the skills and confidence in this practice to add my own flair.
Sure there might be 3 – 4 million podcasts in existence today, but ~44% quit after four episodes. All I have to do is run my usual experiment… Do something for at least 12 iterations to see if you enjoy it, if it sucks then I quit, if not, we continue for another 12 iterations. Simple.
One idea for personal flair would be for every informational interview there’s an in-between solo episode where I share business ideas or problems we could test for product market fit.
Alright. Enough for now… It’s time to create friction.