Tony Tjan is the Managing Partner of the venture capital firm Cue Ball Capital, and founder of the Internet advisory group, ZEFER. He is the author of HEART, SMARTS, GUTS, and LUCK: What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business, which shows how you can assess your own attributes to determine which could influence your success at entrepreneurship—and every step of business building.
Tony Tjan: So if you’re out there and you’re asking how is it even possible to create your own luck and take advantage of luck, and especially if you’re out there and raising your hand and saying, “Wow, I took the entrepreneur aptitude test at HSGL.com and I’m luck dominate, like what do I do now?” Well there are a few things that one can do, very pragmatic to be more luck inspired.
It starts with having a couple of habits around there, particularly habits around optimism. We have a rule called the 24x3 rule around optimism. And what does that really mean? A mentor of mine was an iconoclastic; a gentleman named Jay Chiot that we profiled in the book. He founded an advertising agency called Chiot Day. He had this capacity to think about every reason something would work before thinking about any reason it would not.
And from that we derived this 24x3 rule of optimism. Can you when someone tells you an idea wait 24 seconds before you have a negative thought about it? And can you push that to 24 minutes, and if you’re really in the Zen Buddha state, can you do it for a whole day? And if you think about every reason why someone’s idea might actually work first, it creates greater openness, generosity, and it exposes your own vulnerability, and it pushes your luck to a whole new level. And from a practical standpoint, it opens you to a lot more opportunities.
Another luck driven habit is in terms of how you approach relationships. There are two fundamental ways to build relationship networks. You can go out and strategically organize the 50 most important relationships that you need and that is an absolutely essential trait to do. My good friend Keith Ferrazzi that’s written a lot about the power of relationships and Never Eat Alone talks about that component a lot.
Another component of creating very valuable relationships in life is almost the opposite; don’t overthink it. And recognize that when you’re at events sometimes the wallflowers, so to speak, are the best people you could possibly talk to. So when you go to your next conference, a very simple rule and application, on one side you’re going to take a list and say, “These are the ten people I absolutely need to meet and you’re going to go try to fan boy them like 95 percent of the other people at the conference. But try to think of something simple that we wrote in the book. What if you just talked to people one day that are wearing red? And anyone who’s wearing red you’re just going to make the decision to talk to ‘em and be open-minded. You’ll find yourself less contrived, you’ll probably find yourself being more authentic, you’ll probably feel that you have greater openness. And believe it or not you might find yourself with the lucky network friend that can help you in the future.
What you need in terms of business smarts is great pattern recognition.