Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom founders of Instagram, talk about the companies success on a podcast called, How I Built This. They mention 50% of Instagram’s success is down to luck.
“The world runs on luck. The question is what do you do with it?”
The term ‘You make your own luck’ has found its way into a couple of conversations lately when describing my personal career progression within Twitter. I‘m an avid believer that luck is a trait everyone possesses, but it takes a sequence of triggers to make luck surface for you. What you do with this good fortune determines you as a person.
Without hard work, your chance of luck is minimal. This statement alone, might make you question whether; is it luck if hard work is involved or is it just hard work paying off? I believe you always need a stroke of luck to help you on your way. In the workplace, luck can find its way to you in all forms of different scenarios. It could be a well-timed Tweet or an email, a random conversation, bumping into an old connection in the street, a senior colleague leaving a position, making it vacant, ready for you to jump in with both feet.
Below are two personal anecdotes, that luck played its part, one at the beginning of my career, and the second from the present.
Career Kick Start
As a second year student heading into the final year of University, I wasn’t naive about the competition for employment when graduating. The best way to learn valuable industry skills is from those with experience. Like most students, wanting to get their foot in the door, I emailed various of studios for an internship. Some studios took the bait and responded, but for one reason or another, it didn’t work out. Two hundred and fifty miles south of my university, there was an event called 4 Designers in the heart of London. 4 Designers conference is where I saw Tomas Roope (Ex-Tomato founder, founded the Rumpus Room, now Creative Lead at Google) presenting a stunning body of work for his new studio ‘the Rumpus Room’. Being completely blown away by the level of creativity and the unusual work, I knew instantly that my motion graphics skills would complement the talented developers working there. Tom fascinated me, his mind and his creativity drew me in and I knew he had to be my mentor.
The week after the conference I pondered around the timing of a well-structured introductory email. I hit the send button. Within the same day, I had a response in my inbox from the Rumpus Room. A same day reply from a studio was typically a ‘no sorry we are not looking for someone’ or an automated response. As luck would have it, the Rumpus Room was on the verge of posting an opening for an internship vacancy requiring a motion design skillset. A couple of meetings later I had a 3-month internship lined up, which accelerated my design career before leaving university. Through the Rumpus Room and working with Tomas I was introduced to other high-end design studios such as Bibliotheque, where I finished off the working summer. All of this happened because of hard work, putting myself out there, surrounding myself within an industry I wanted to be in and a well-timed email with a stroke of luck.
Midway through 2016, my wife (fiancé at the time) was offered a job which required a relocation from the UK to the US. I was gaining visibility throughout the global Twitter team in my day-to-day role. My other creative output (illustration and animation) had some momentum through personal projects and it didn’t go unnoticed within the company. With a stroke of luck and being in the right place at the right time, I found myself having lunch with a high-level associate and the conversation flowed through topics such as; my vision, the future and my wife’s job offer. I left the conversation with 4 options of how I wanted to pursue the next chapter of my career and the relocation.
Fast forward six months, and we are both about to relocate to Los Angeles as a married couple. Lucky.
Can you see a pattern?
This type of luck doesn’t exist for those that avoid the hustle and luck doesn’t show itself to those that avoid making connections or shelter themselves from fearful positions. This type of luck certainly doesn’t come to those who plod through life thinking it owes them something, nor does it happen to those who wait for things to come to them.
Whether you are starting your career or, like me, are deep into it make sure you always keep pushing yourself, keep putting yourself into situations that make you afraid, the kind that creates an ache inside your gut. Keep yourself motivated and set yourself clear goals for where you want to be.
If you are a student on the brink of bursting into the industry, I can’t emphasize enough, get your name and work out there! Like myself, you need to do things that put you in the forefront of the minds of those who matter. Push your work online, make connections on Twitter, and increase your network. Be involved with student awards such as D&AD and YCN to raise your profile.
All this self-promoting and putting yourself in a position of criticism may leave you feeling anxious and scared but don’t worry, this will soon fade, nothing bad will happen.
Work hard and luck will come. It’s how you capitalize on that moment of luck and make it work in your favor.