In late 2016, I travelled to Toronto to see Seth Godin speak at Archangel. Godin was part of an all-star lineup including Gary Vaynerchuk, and the day was so packed that there was no scheduled lunch break. So my wife and I looked for an unfamiliar name on the schedule and planned to run out for a sandwich when they came onstage.
The name we chose was Dan Martell. When Martell was introduced, we began heading for the exit. But his story was so compelling–a car chase, a drawn gun, fireworks exploding in a living room–that we stayed. When we went for lunch later with local friend and box owner Alex Cibiri, I remember telling him that I couldn’t take any pictures of Vaynerchuk because my phone was dead. We enjoyed the afternoon and headed for the airport.
But when I plugged my phone in to charge, there was a voice mail from Dan Martell on it. He had just purchased shares in a CrossFit gym, heard I was in the audience, and wanted me to come backstage to meet everyone. The voice mail was three hours old. I called Dan back right away and we spoke for an hour. That was the start of a two-year mentorship during which Two-Brain Business grew 8x.
I’ve always had, in the words of Jim Collins, great “Who luck”. The right people sometimes seem to drop into my life at precisely the right moment. Dani Brown started as a client, and then happened to sell her gym just as Two-Brain needed more mentors. Jay Williams did the same, and then brought his new coach to the Summit–Mike Lee, who quickly became the COO at Two-Brain. Eden Watson became CSM after her husband–who was my first hire at Catalyst back in 2005–mentioned she didn’t like her job. I met my wife when we were drafted to the same Intramural House in high school. And there are dozens of other examples.
How did I get so lucky? Well, like every lucky person, I’ve learned how to maximize my opportunities for good luck; to be ready for it when it comes; and to maximize my return on luck. Here’s how to do it:
- Expose yourself to more. I mean more people, more ideas, and more experiences. Come to the Summit and meet people. Talk about opposing viewpoints. Seek experiences instead of money.
- Go first. Very few people will invite you to coffee, or out on a date, or to be a guest on their podcast. But we’re all thrilled to be invited. If you want to serve someone, go first: invite them. Tell them, “I’m really excited to meet you at the Summit!” or “I can’t wait to see what you think of my gym!” Do it to help them get out of their shell. It will pull you out of yours.
I frequently walk past people in the mall who try to politely avoid eye contact. They’re not comfortable going first. I am. And that makes them feel good.
- Cull people from your life. You are driving a bus with 150 seats. When you pull up to a stop and Dan Martell is on the sidewalk, will you say “Sorry, we’re packed – wait for the next one”?
Emerson wrote, “Heartily know, when demigods go, the gods arrive.” I’ve repeated that line to many gym owners who were upset about losing a client or two. But in every case, better clients took their spot! And those new clients had friends who also became great clients. For us, getting rid of the “serious competitors” made my gym more open to receiving amazing clients back in 2013.
- Open yourself to mentorship. Your ego is like a closed baseball glove. You might be missing some easy pop flies just because you want to catch the ball “your way”. Instead of trying to reinvent the game of baseball, or trying to cover more of the outfield by running faster, walk slowly with an open glove.
I met my current mentor, Marcy Swenson, when I was with Dan Martell in San Francisco. Marcy was introduced as Dan’s mentor, and seated across from me at dinner. When I began to focus on growing as a leader, I called Marcy for help. But Dan and Marcy weren’t my first mentors; I’ve often referred to finding Denis Turcotte as “winning the lottery”. Turcotte saved my gym by teaching me how to build systems. I was part of his legacy project to mentor five local entrepreneurs before he retired; but that story’s been told over and over in my books.
The key to great “who luck” isn’t in beating the odds, or having some kind of divine spotlight. The key is meeting more people, removing the people holding you back, and being ready to receive. Because the next amazing person in your life is probably already here.