Maximize your luck surface area
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To live life is to risk it all.
When people talk about risk, they usually refer to the probability of an unexpected negative outcome: the risk of embarrassment, the risk of rejection, even the risk of bodily harm.
We intuitively understand risk in the abstract, even if we’re notoriously bad at quantifying it. People, companies, institutions, and even entire nations work tirelessly in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of unexpected negative outcomes. But what about unexpected positive outcomes?
Morgan Housel wrote that, “Luck is the flip side of risk. You cannot understand one without appreciating the other.”
If “risk” and “luck” are inextricably linked, then there’s no way to maximize for one without inviting the other.
If you decide to backpack across South America for the summer, you expose yourself to a decision tree of infinite outcomes. You assume the “risk” of embarrassment, food poisoning, or theft, just as you invite the “luck” of new friends, chance encounters, and an unforgettable experience.
But is there a way to maximize the probability of an unexpected positive outcome? Is there a way to get luckier?
Make Content, Get Luckier
When you make content, you expand your luck surface area.
The more people who know about your passion and expertise, the larger your Luck Surface Area. The larger your Luck Surface Area, the more likely you are to drive an unexpected positive outcome. This is what has happened to me thanks to posting online: an extreme level of unexpected positive outcomes.
Every week, random people message me on Twitter and LinkedIn that they read my newsletter. I’ve become good friends with quite a few and a couple have even worked for me.
I’ve found all my ghostwriting clients thanks to Twitter. Every time I have a tweet or thread blow up, founders reach out and try to hire me. 3 years ago, I couldn’t get a single job applying on LinkedIn. Now I have to say no 3x/week. That’s not luck, that’s content doing its job.
At parties, people notice me from my profile picture and come say hi.
High Luck Surface Area → High Serendipity
You can get luckier by increasing your luck surface area. Let me explain with this quick video. Wait til the end for The Office fans.
Luck Surface Area is a lot like my idea of The Cool Shit Law. The more cool shit you do, the more cool people you’ll meet.
If you want to meet more cool people, then do cool shit and post about it in an online community. If you do this enough, then you’ll become ubiquitous (and become “luckier” than you can dream of).
What is Digital Ubiquity?
Think about someone like James Clear. His book Atomic Habits is mentioned in what feels like every podcast, blog, and thread. He is ubiquitous on the internet. That level of ubiquity should be the goal of any ambitious creator.
So, how does a creator work towards achieving Digital Ubiquity? And how does a creator know when they’ve achieved Digital Ubiquity?
Determining when you’ve achieved Digital Ubiquity, I believe, is pretty simple: Do people in your niche consider you to be a household name? When you’ve reached this threshold, you’ll know. You’ll begin to attract the attention of your industry’s leaders. Many of your interactions will be inbound, rather than outbound. You’ll get more cold DMs than you send.
Some notable examples of people who have achieved Digital Ubiquity within their own industries include Nick Sharma (@mrsharma) in DTC, Nick Huber (@sweatystartup) in self-storage, and David Perell in online writing (@david_perell). But, to become the next Nik Sharma or Nick Huber, you have to do the work. The most consistent strategy to achieving Ubiquity is by facilitating repeated exposure: hearing you on a podcast, seeing your tweets, watching your videos, hearing other people talk about you, etc. At the risk of sounding like some bs online sales course, there are four “R’s” to this work:
Repurpose — Take your long-form content and chop it up into smaller pieces that can be repeatedly repurposed for other channels/formats
Repeat — Consistently repeat the ideas that are most important to you and your industry. Have a theory or a message? You should be talking about it almost daily.
Repost — Make note of the outlier pieces of content that performed exceedingly well. Then, as your audience grows, repost those pieces for the benefit of your new followers. The internet has a very short memory. Don’t be afraid to repost.
Next level: Repost/Retweet whenever someone posts about your content. It gives the impression to others that everyone is talking about your work.
Respond — Initiate conversations with your followers and other industry professionals. Jump in the comments section. Send out DMs. This is the most effective way to build affinity with your current following and catch the attention of aspirational figures.
Are you noticing a pattern here?
The Same Coin
Ubiquity as a creator is achieved through effective content distribution.
By mastering the distribution of your content, you’re working towards achieving ubiquity within your niche. Ubiquity helps maximize the number of serendipitous encounters in your life, increasing your Luck Surface Area. Unexpected positive outcomes all around, baby.
But here’s the thing that isn’t talked about: The risk is always present. It always has been. When you hit publish, you’re just as likely to get dunked on as you are to receive a DM from someone who can change the direction of your life.
And, some of the greatest opportunities in your personal and professional life will be the result of a chance encounter or a lucky break. Luck plays a much bigger role in our lives than any of us would care to admit.
So, if luck and risk are two sides of the same coin, then the luck is just as ubiquitous as the risk.
My advice? Go out and risk it all.
Goal: this is the #1 corner on the internet for cool cyberpunk shit:
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NERD OF THE WEEK: NICK TRIMMER
Nick co-wrote today’s post!
He also ghostwrites for some of the biggest accounts on Twitter.
If you like his writing, subscribe to his newsletter Fifth Estate.
MEMES OF THE WEEK
Me looking at the flight attendant while she passes out snacks so she sees I’m awake and doesn’t forget to give me a little bag of pretzels
— Keara Sullivan (@superkeara)
Oct 6, 2023
Posting “wow super problematic” under everybody’s Halloween costume and then responding “I will not do the labor of educating you” when they ask for an explanation.
— jr (@jamesearl23)
Oct 4, 2023
Drake makes music for guys who say “that was splendid” after sex
— pikaboob (@pikacap)
Oct 7, 2023
If you want to scare the heck out of people this Halloween …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)
Oct 3, 2023
opening a psychiatry clinic in SF but if we diagnose you with hypomania we write you a term sheet instead of a prescription
— near (@nearcyan)
Oct 5, 2023
Thanks for reading nerds.
Create some cool shit this week.
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