How Blogging Can Increase Your Luck Surface Area

(Photo Credit: Dice by Matsuyuki)

Every month I get to engage with some interesting people on an email list/group called Really Think, which is run by my friend Derek Flanzraich. Last month we talked about a number of topics including our thoughts on Color.com, what kind of apps we use each day and other tech/startup/business/productivity oriented things. But the topic I found most interesting was on “luck surface area”, which was suggested by the awesome Patrick Stockwell of Volta.

Would love to hear other people’s thoughts on the idea of increasing “luck surface area.” I’m not sure who coined this (TechZingLive’s Jason?), but without researching, what does this mean to you? What are some ways to increase your luck surface area and how can this be beneficial to your personal life and professional life?

The post that Patrick referred to was by Jason Roberts of the podcast TechZing called “Increasing the Surface Area of Luck“. In the post Roberts shares a big lesson he’s learned:

The amount of serendipity that will occur in your life, your Luck Surface Area, is directly proportional to the degree to which you do something you’re passionate about combined with the total number of people to whom this is effectively communicated. It’s a simple concept, but an extremely powerful one because what it implies is that you can directly control the amount of luck you receive. In other words, you make your own luck.


A few people on the thread argued that luck comes from working hard, doing a lot of stuff fast and being prepared. Others mentioned luck as making connections – connections of ideas or of people. I think they’re right. But those points aren’t really actionable. Here’s a more concrete answer to Patrick’s question:

Building a personal blog is one of the most powerful and tangible ways to increase your Luck Surface Area

Being in the right place and being exposed to the right ideas / people / opportunities is what gives people their “lucky break”. If you want to be an actor, you’re not going to get a lucky break in Atlanta hanging out with small business owners. It just doesn’t work like that. Location matters. Context matters.

Writing a blog puts you on the internet, where anyone can find you and engage with your ideas and your experiences – even if you’re sleeping! Growing your readership is a scaleable way to interact with people. If you’ve got goals you want to achieve, building a blog can help you connect with the people and opportunities you’ll need to become successful.

Lingbo Li, a web designer (Sauced Media) and Harvard senior, shares my sentiments and adds some thoughts about meeting new people in general. Here’s what she said in the Really Think email thread in response:

Agree with Jason the blog front – nothing, nothing has been as luck-producing as writing a blog. (Which reminds me, I should update it…) I’ve met so many people through it and been offered opportunities I could have never predicted in a million years.

I think a large component of luck has been accepting the bad that comes with the good. Placing myself in unlikely or risky situations inevitably means you meet some bad apples, get ripped off, get lost, waste time with unproductive meetings, etc. Having a public blog has won me a deranged cyberstalker or two, for example.

I randomly strike up conversations when I can. And I always accept opportunities to be introduced to a like-minded person. While this seems obvious, I’ve noticed that a lot of friends don’t care for general introductions, or are scared of not knowing what to say to a stranger. But the more I embrace awkwardness, I’ve found, the more luck I’ve had.

This attitude is great and very much reminicent of rejection therapy. You’ve got to put yourself out there – both online and in person to get lucky. Meeting people person can be very powerful, but it takes time, effort and money and generally results in 1:1 (maybe up to a 1:5) effort to reward ratio. You get what you put into it. Writing a blog starts off at a 1:0 ratio but can grow to a 1:10, 1:100 even a 1:1000 effort reward ratio as you build up a real personal asset for yourself.

One very small example of this is that I met a guy named Jeff Bajayo via him tweeting my blog posts. I looked into what he was doing, thought it was cool, and interviewed him. Later on he came to LAUNCH and stayed at my apartment. I met a bunch of interesting people through him and I’m sure our relationship will continue to provide valuable and interesting experiences for the both of us.

The thing is – he lives in NYC and is a high school senior. There’s no way I would have ever run into him and vice-versa if I did not have a blog!

Last datapoint – my coworker and buddy Ryan Hupfer has been keeping a blog with his then-girlfriend, now-wife for 3 years at HupandSteph.com. Ryan is the guy who convinced me to start blogging again in the first place and I’m so glad he did. As I mentioned in my post “Who Did You Learn From in 2010?“, Ryan was able to land an apartment in Palo Alto that had a number of buyers at the open house because he sent an email to owner and said basically “Hey – I know we didn’t talk much but we’re great folks. We love BBQ’s (link to bbq video) and going for hikes (link to post on hiking) and we’re just decent folks (link to family post).”

That’s another small but powerful example of how blogging can help you “get lucky”.

So yeah – if you want to increase your life’s luck surface area, start a personal blog. Just write about things you’re interested in and share it with people. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

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5 comments
approachmachine
approachmachine

I can totally relate to this post. I've spread the word of rejection therapy by meeting people like you/the other Jason. Then from there, I've been able to comment on other people's websites that you link to as well. So I definitely can say that blogging can increase the potential for like minded people to enter your life.I just wanted to add that this has been something that I've been thinking about currently as well.All our lives we've been told talking to strangers is wrong. All our lives we've been subconsciously told that feeling awkward/embarrassed is bad. All it takes is re-adjusting the mindset to see those hindering qualities and to get rid of the idea that they actually hinder us. Strangers don't bite nearly as hard as one would think (be aware of physical danger, that's all). Awkwardness/Embarrassment is pretty simple to overcome by repeating this sentence, "Who will honestly care about that particular awkward/embarrassing moment in a thousand years?" Exactly. No one.Once you get rid of those two things, like you say, your luck surface area can increase.

jfeldstein
jfeldstein

Jason Roberts must have an unusual definition of luck, or maybe he and this post aren't referring to luck in the first place.

You have a picture of dice at the top, because dice are lucky. But will playing craps enthusiastically, and (more to the point of this post) telling lots of people about your dice throwing make you a "more lucky" craps player? Of course not.

There's actually two distinct probabilities at work in our lives, and one is being confused for the other in this post.

There's Circumstance -- The context you build around yourself and what you do.

And Happenstance -- Coincidence. Real chance. Luck.

Writing a good blog (and promoting it) will improve your circumstances. You'll get more of "the right people" to encounter you, but only because you've made more people encounter you overall. That's why Lingbo gets the crazies along with the connections.

On the other hand, writing a blog won't improve your happenstance -- your real luck -- regardless of how much you promote it. You won't call heads or tails better. You won't throw hotter dice. You won't be luckier.

Roberts, Li and yourself talking about increasing your luck surface area. You're expanding your circumstances. Broadening your horizons. That's what writing a blog is doing for you. Writing a blog doesn't count as making you lucky, it counts as making an effort.

And yes. You can actually become luckier. There are ways to produce more happenstance ... but you'll need to wait for me to start my own blog before you find how. :^]

Top Ten
Top Ten

Very well put Jason! I just recently started my blog about themes and I am really looking forward to building a nice community around it.

Thanks for sharing!

simonpayne
simonpayne

I've started my blog just a few weeks ago and I already met about 5 amazing people trough the help of if. Including Jason. Cheers!

I suddenly got in touch with some people who I followed trough their blogs and read their posts for quite some time and never contacted them. A lot has started happening since I started mine.

Funny thing is that I didn't told any of my current friends about the blog and lots of them found it somehow and told me in person it was cool or interesting or just something. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone!

I'm looking forward to meeting more interesting people... yes even YOU!

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