After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. This event could have ended his career, but instead, Jobs seized an opportunity:
“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
Jobs went on to found Next, a computer platform company and acquired the computer graphic department which became known as Pixar. Apple ultimately purchased Next and, as a part of the deal, Jobs was named Apple advisor. As Apple neared bankruptcy, Jobs was named CEO.
At age 16, while still in high school, Ryan Seacrest landed an internship at WSTR FM in Atlanta with Tom Sullivan. When the regular DJ called in sick, Sullivan offered him the opportunity to be on the air. In a surprise phone call the next day, the station owner told him he was not bad, and he soon was given the weekend overnight shift at WSTR. His radio show soon became so popular that it was nationally syndicated.
After suffering years of abuse by friends and relatives of her mother Vernita in Mississippi, Oprah Winfrey moved to Nashville to live with her father, Vernon, who made her education a priority. She excelled at school and was able to secure a full scholarship at Tennessee University, where she studied communication and attracted the attention of the local radio station WVOL.
Out on the street one evening when he was living in Palo Alto, CA with his friends, Mark Zuckerberg happened to bump into Sean Parker, a cofounder of the file-sharing program Napster. Within a few weeks, Parker introduced Zuckerberg to his first major investor, Peter Thiel.
Getting fired, filling-in for a sick co-worker, moving away from home, running into someone on the street: these all could all be considered random, coincidental events. However, in retrospect, each of these incidents became opportunities that yielded great returns.
In honor of St. Pattys day, instead of searching for four-leaf clovers, we're dedicating #TopicTuesday and our weekly poll to the concept “Return on Luck” or maximizing “luck events” as explained by Jim Collins’ book, Great by Choice.