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Don't Put All Your Trust in Luck

Don't Put All Your Trust in Luck

Harvey Mackey | Tulsa World

Luck seems to have a peculiar attachment to work. I’m sure that most of you have heard the Dave Thomas quote: “It seems the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

I would tend to agree with that statement, but I think there are a few other conditions that affect your “luck” – things such as instinct, timing, market conditions and public opinion. I know folks that have worked their heads and hearts off, but for some reason they just aren’t successful in what they accomplish.

On the other hand, I have witnessed others who seem to have fallen into a bed of roses – businesswise or financially. Pure luck? Probably not. More likely, they were in the right business at the right time.

I prefer not to rely on luck when it comes to business. I leave that for Las Vegas.

What is the correlation between luck and success? As for my business life, I prefer to do everything in my power to make my own “luck” – long hours, clear goals, calculated risks, good hires, expert advice and a reasonable amount of fear have guided me.

Was it luck that led to the creation of so many well-known products? I think not. Rather, it was creativity and the courage to redevelop products. For example, Coca-Cola started as a headache medicine. Post-It Notes originated when a 3M inventor created bookmarks for his prayer/song book. Levi jeans – with rivets instead of buttons – were made out of leftover tent canvas when miners needed pants.

Speaking of leftovers, that’s how the Swanson TV dinner was created. It was Thanksgiving 1952 and the Swanson Co. had 260 tons of leftover turkeys. A salesman developed a three-compartment tray for the frozen turkey and two side dishes. Management gobbled up the idea. So did Swanson’s customers.

In 1874, 16 years after the first soda fountain opened, Robert M. Green was mixing his popular drink, consisting of sweet cream, syrup and carbonated water. When he ran out of sweet cream, he started substituting vanilla ice cream, hoping no one would notice. Everyone noticed – and he went from grossing $6 a day to $600.

Yo-yos were used as weapons in the ancient Far East. Sixteenth- century hunters in the Philippine Islands tied wooden disks together with a long piece of rope or twine. They would sit in trees and fling the weapon at prey. If it missed, they would pull it back quickly and try again. Donald Duncan saw the yo-yo in action in the early 1920s, changed the design and created a child’s toy.

Lucky? No. Good business. Taking risks, being creative and reading and reacting to markets will trump luck every day. You can bet on that.

Mackay’s Moral: Good luck usually depends on good judgment.

Harvey Mackay can be reached through his Web site, mackay.

Originally published by HARVEY MACKEY United Feature Syndicate.

© 2009 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

© 2009, YellowBrix, Inc.

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