Making Money Isn’t about Luck

This post is by naval from Startup Boy

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  • Making money isn’t about luck. It’s about becoming the kind of person who makes money. If you lost all your money, you should be able to recreate that wealth.
  • There are 4 kinds of luck: (1) Blind luck, (2) Luck from hustling, (3) Luck from preparation, (4) Luck that comes from your unique character.
  • In 1,000 parallel universes, you want to be wealthy in 999 of them.
  • Wealth stacks up one chip at a time, not all at once.


Naval: [00:00] Obviously, we want to be wealthy, and we want to get there in this lifetime without having to rely on luck. A lot of people think making money is about luck. It’s not. It’s about becoming the kind of person that makes money.

I like to think that if I lost all my money and if you drop me on random street in any English-speaking country, within 5, 10 years I’d be wealthy again, because it’s just a skill set that I’ve developed and I think anyone can develop.

In 1,000 parallel universes, you want to be wealthy in 999 of them. You don’t want to be wealthy in the 50 of them where you got lucky. So, we want to factor luck out of it.

There’s really four kinds of luck that we were talking about. This came from a book, and Pmarca, Marc Andreessen wrote a blog post about it. But basically, there’s different kinds of luck.

1. Blind luck

The first kind of lucky you might just say is like blind luck where, where I just got lucky because something completely out of my control happen. That’s fortune, that’s fate, et cetera.

2. Luck from hustling

Then there’s luck that kind of comes through persistence, hard work, hustle, motion, which is when you’re just running around creating lots of opportunities, you’re generating a lot of energy, you’re doing a lot of things, lots of things will just get stirred up in the dust.

It’s almost like mixing a petri dish and seeing what combines or mixing a bunch of reagents and seeing what combines, you’re just generating enough force and hustle and energy that luck will sort of find you.

We as a group, you could argue, got together because of that. Nenad had put up these great videos online, I saw them on Twitter and so in that sense he sort of generated his own luck by just creating videos until people like me keep finding him.

3. Luck from preparation

A third way is that you just become very good at spotting luck. So, if you are very skilled in a field, you will notice when a lucky break happens in that field when other people who aren’t attuned to it won’t notice. So you become sensitive to luck and that’s through skill and knowledge and work.

4. Luck from your unique character

And then the last kind of luck is the weirdest, hardest kind. But that’s what we want to talk about, which is where you build a unique character, a unique brand, a unique mindset, where then luck finds you.

For example, let’s say that you’re the best person in the world at deep sea underwater diving and you’re known to like take on deep sea underwater dives that nobody else will even attempt to dare.

And then by sheer luck, somebody finds a sunken treasure ship off the coast. They can’t get it. Well, their luck just became your luck because they’re going to come to you to get that treasure and you’re going to get paid for it.  

Now, that’s an extreme example but it’s just showing how the person who got lucky by finding the treasure chest. That was blind luck. But them coming to you and asking you to extract it and having to give you half, that’s not luck.

You kind of created your own luck. You put yourself in a position to be able to capitalize on that luck or to attract that luck when nobody else has created that opportunity for themselves. So, when we talk about without getting lucky, we want to be a deterministic, we don’t want to leave it to chance.

In 1,000 parallel universes, you want to be wealthy in 999 of them

Nivi: [02:54] Do you want to elaborate a little bit more on the idea that in a 1,000 parallel universes you want to get rich in 999 of them? I think some people are going to see that and say, that sounds impossible, it sounds like it’s too good to be true.

Naval: [:03:10] No, I don’t think it’s impossible. I think that you may have to work a little bit harder at it given your starting circumstances. I mean, remember, I started as a poor kid in India, so, if I can make it anybody can in that sense.

Now, obviously, I had all my limbs and I had my mental faculties and I did have an education, so, there are some prerequisites you can’t get past but if you’re listening to this video or podcast, you probably have the requisite means at your disposal, which is a functioning body and a functioning mind.

And I’ve encountered plenty of bad luck along the way. The first little fortunate that I made, I instantly lost in the stock market. The second little fortunate that I made, or I should have made, I basically got cheated by my business partners. It’s only the third time around has been a charm.

And even then, it has been in a slow and steady struggle. And I haven’t made money in my life in one giant payout. It’s always been a whole bunch of small things kind of piling up. So, it’s more about consistently creating wealth by creating businesses, including opportunities and creating investments. It hasn’t been like a giant one off thing.

Wealth stacks up one chip at a time, not all at once

My personal wealth has not been generated by one big year, it just sort of stacks up little bit, chips at a time. More options, more businesses, more investments, more things that I can do.

Same way someone like Nenad, illacertus, he’s building his brand online. He’s building videos. It’s not like any one video is going to suddenly shower him with riches overnight. It’s going to be a long lifetime of learning of reading of creating that’s just going to compound.

So, we’re talking about getting wealthy so you can retire, so you have your freedom. Not retire in the sense that you don’t do anything, but in the sense that you don’t have to be any place you don’t want to be, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, and you can wake up when you want, you can sleep when you want, you don’t have a boss. That’s freedom.

So, we’re talking about enough wealth to get to freedom. And especially thanks to the Internet these days, though, opportunities are massively abundant. I, in fact, have too many ways to make money, I don’t have enough time. I literally have opportunities pouring out of my ears and the thing I keep running out of is time.

There’s just so many ways to create wealth, to create products, to create businesses, to create opportunities, and to, as a byproduct, get paid by society that I just can’t even handle it all.

More: See all posts on How to Get Rich.