by • November 12, 2012 • UncategorizedComments (4)302

Beginner’s luck is real, sort of

A huge percentage of the gamblers you talk to will swear by beginner’s luck. Their first time at the tables, they’ll have gone on dominating runs and wake up with $100k stashed in the fridge[1].

Beginner’s luck looks real because the only people who stick around in the gambling game are the ones who had a lucky first experience. The folks who get beat up (or just break even) the first time they play tend to walk away.

We get the same thing in startups. Most of the long-term players were [at least somewhat] successful their first time around. The others–the ones who were totally squashed–fade out of the community and return to other pursuits.

There’s a huge amount of skill, insight & execution demonstrated by these wins. But just like in the casino, you can have the requisite skill and still get blindsided by a bad run.

The tough part is when you then look around and everyone else seems to have done pretty well on their first one. But it’s not because everyone succeeded. It’s because the failures quietly disappear.

There’s a survivor bias going on. You need to accept that things are not as they seem, find a way to stop the comparisons, and get to work on the next one.


[1] For example, Norm MacDonald.

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4 Responses to Beginner’s luck is real, sort of

  1. StartUpJerkFest says:

    Your link to Norm is resulting in 404 page not found. maybe you meant /players/norm-macdonald/13025/player-profile.asp ?

  2. StartUpJerkFest says:

    also, the media hypes the big time successes who build the mega million wins, and makes the average beginner feel like shite if they don’t have a lotto ticket from their first day out the gate.

    but if Entrepreneurship is in your blood, it’s like an addiction and you can’t stay away, no matter how many failures you have, you keep coming back for another try. hopefully you are building up your skill each time at bat.

    if you fade away after a failure, then you weren’t meant to be an Entrepreneur / Startup Founder – which is fine, you can be happier doing something easier.

    this article is a good reminder to be aware of the current hype surrounding the Startup world, and make sure you ignore the hype as you iterate to success.

    thanks Rob.