Luck vs. Talent; The Risk of Confusing the Two

    One of my favorite podcasts is “How I Built This,” as I mention often.

    In the podcast, entrepreneurs tell their stories (often terrifying) of what it took to get their companies off the ground.

    There are usually two recurring themes: (1) the founders had to go through hell and back to achieve their success and we consumers were oblivious to it all; and (2) the founders attribute much of their success to luck.

    At the end of every podcast the host asks the founders how much of their success is attributable to luck, and almost every founder attributes most or all of their success to luck – despite their incredible risk-taking and hard work.

    And that awareness of the luck factor is a major reason why so many founders were so successful.

    Spanx, Clif Bars, and Stonyfield Farms Yogurt all had brilliant founders with amazing grit, but they also benefited from great timing and their founders recognize that.

    When leaders/founders do not recognize the luck factor and instead attribute all of their success to their own talent, they start to ignore the advice of others, they don’t recognize the need to hire people smarter than they are, they burn bridges, and they almost always crash and burn at some point.

    I might add that arrogant leaders on their way to a fall also often ignore the contribution of others, but that is a topic for another blog.

    In any case, there are thousands of examples throughout history of arrogant leaders crashing. On the business front, more recent examples include Enron, WorldCom, and Lehman Brothers. All involved extremely arrogant leadership groups who thought they were geniuses but were really just riding economic, regulatory, and/or stock market waves. In hindsight, their crashes seemed all but inevitable.

    I am blogging about this b/c the mortgage industry (and the real estate industry to some extent) is going through one of its biggest “luck periods” ever right now. And, I continue to meet all too many people who seem to have forgotten about 2008 and who think their success is 100% attributable to their genius.

    And… those people will probably learn to appreciate the luck factor, at some point, the hard way.

    So, am I lucky??? Heck yeah 😊

    I am extremely lucky: (1) to be riding the low interest rate wave; (2) to be surrounded by an entire team of truly brilliant people who are very fun to work with; and (3) to have embraced my wife Heejin’s idea, back in 2007, to hire such people and build our “no-loan-officer” model.

    I didn’t think it was possible to attract such talent to the mortgage industry, but I was lucky enough to find out I was wrong. 😊

    Anyway, this is my reminder to go forth and remember how lucky we all are.

    Jay Voorhees
    Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
    (855) 855-4491 | DRE# 01524255, NMLS# 310167

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