January 31, 2011

Lucky? Well, Yes and No...

In a time long ago, about 2000 years ago actually, a Roman philosopher named Seneca thought deeply on the subject of Luck, and he came up with this clear and concise summary:

"Luck is what happens when 
Preparation meets Opportunity"

Allow me a moment of your time to share a brief story that illustrates this quite well.  It happened to me just last Monday...

I was attending an early morning breakfast meeting of the San Diego Venture Group.  A panel of Venture Capitalists was chosen to discuss the outlook for funding startups and early stage companies.  It's a topic that fascinates me, so I made an exception to my long-standing schedule which reserves all mornings until noon, for ME.  This means, above all else, quiet time, no phones, no meetings, nothing planned, no contact with the outside world.  I usually read, write, meditate, exercise, etc.  But every once in a while, very rarely, something comes along that will be just so outstanding an Opportunity that I break out of my committed routine.  This was just such an occasion.  

I'm milling about in a room of about 400 people, give or take a few multi-millionaires, and as usual, I know nobody, but I take a seat at a table up front because it's easier to see and hear what's going on.  The table seats about 8, and several seats are already taken.  I could have chosen any of several tables, but for some reason I focused on a silver haired gentleman, already seated.  He caught my attention because he was obviously not like the other people in the room.  He wasn't wearing a suit, not even sport jacket; not the "business casual" that is recommended for these elite functions.  Sure, I'd like to sit next to Bill Gates, but since I didn't see him there, and breakfast was being served, I figured: What the heck, this guy is either in the wrong room, or he's a rebel, a non-conformist just like me.  In either case, it might be interesting...

I sit, I introduce myself, which is the politically correct thing to do, and right off I learn that he is Bradley J. Fikes, of the North County Times, and he is here covering the event.  Well, of course I mention that the North County Times is one of my favorite newspapers, because I do live in North County, and then almost as a reflex I reach into my pocket for the Pocket Guide for Entrepreneurs: Ten Principles for Managing a Young, Growing Business.  It's a little something I put together a few months ago, a nice little booklet of only 28 pages.  Just a trinket, really, but it looks reasonably good for the prototype that it is.  It's designed to be an order of magnitude better than a business card; something people will remember, and get involved with.  Not easily filed away, not easily discarded...

Before I left home I put two copies in my shirt pocket, just in case I met someone who might be a worthy recipient.  That was the Preparation.  And this was the moment when Preparation met Opportunity.  Luck!

The result of this was that Bradley J. Fikes wrote his story in the North County Times, a short piece about the state of Venture Capital, and went on to mention the fellow he happened to sit next to at breakfast (yours truly) and the Pocket Guide for Entrepreneurs, and even quoted two of the Principles contained therein (#1 Think Straight and #8 Let There Be Cash) and even gave his readers my website address!  You can read the story here.

What is interesting to me is that Mr. Fikes did not contact me about the article, and I would never have known about it at all if it were not for something I did several years ago.  I set up a Google Alert with a search term of my name.  It's a free service that Alerts me anytime the term Michael McCafferty pops up on the World Wide Web.  Of course, there are other people with my name, including the one who also appeared in the alert, a fellow in England who was arrested for house burglary, but that's another story.  I doubt if he uses Google Alerts on his name.

Of course, I would never have known about the story if it were not for the Preparation I did several years before the Opportunity.  More Luck!

How Prepared are you when Opportunity presents itself?

As a reward for reading this far, I'll send you a free copy of my now-newsworthy Pocket Guide for Entrepreneurs, just for sending me your mailing address in an email to fastmikie@gmail.com