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June 1, 2011

News & Opinion: Smart or Lucky?

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 8:14 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Sometimes we need a little luck, to be in the right place at the right time, to meet the right people, and to make the best choices. We also need the skills and experience to back up what we can do with that luck. It's no use having it if we can't use it. Judith Hurwitz's new book, Smart or Lucky? How Technology Leaders Turn Chance Into Success shows how luck and intelligence work hand in hand, turning random opportunities into huge success. Luck, the author admits, is a weird term. Many don't believe in it, yet there's many situations where that word is the best descriptor. Early in the book, she defines different types of luck and how they work for people. Hurwitz's experience is centered on the tech industry, and what better an industry to look at in terms of huge successes (Apple) and promising failures (Sun Microsystems). The technology leaders she has seen and worked with balanced a keen sense of luck and smarts from the get go. Those lessons are things all entrepreneurs can learn from. Here's a snippet:
"There are plenty of smart people in the world. But being smart isn't enough. After almost thirty years of working with entrepreneurs, I can tell you that innovation alone rarely guarantees success. On the contrary, success in the business of technology requires a combination of intuition, persistence, intelligence, and teamwork, as well as luck. Luck often plays a bigger role in the early success of a company than anyone likes to believe...Smart companies recognize that that initial lucky phase is just the opening stage of a long journey. They recognize the element of luck in their success and understand that they must harness their luck, build on that spark, and move quickly to take advantage of their window of opportunity."
This is a book about technology and people, and how to combine them in ways that will create great opportunities - or lucky situations, if you will.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.