Optimize for Serendipity
the only KPI that matters
Sup nerds, you're reading Cyber Patterns. If you want to join 1,202+ readers learning strategies and patterns used by successful internet creators, subscribe below.
I moved to New York three weeks ago. I’ve officially arrived in the land of serendipity — which is great because I tweeted this in January.
Optimize for serendipity
— Jason Levin (@iamjasonlevin)
Jan 6, 2022
The dictionary defines serendipity as "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way." Accidental joy.
Thus far, here’s a few weird serendipitous things that happened:
Ran into two crypto friends on the street
Saw Laurence Fishburne (Morphius) from The Matrix
Befriended a respected literary agent while eating burritos
I didn't plan any of the above events, but the idea of optimizing serendipity was one of the big reasons I moved to NYC. I figured I'd be surrounded by ambitious, successful people and be more likely to randomly meet cool people. My thesis thus far is proving correct.
I believe that serendipity can be engineered and optimized.
They key to optimizing your serendipity is to increase your Luck Surface Area: the amount of potential opportunity you have to get lucky. As the quote goes, “Luck Is what happens when preparation meets opportunity".
By working out and having a good gym, you'll get "luckier" with women. By building an audience, you'll get "luckier" in business. But, for both situations, it's not luck. It's about building a foundation to increase your likelihood of striking gold.
To optimize your serendipity, you must have clear goals. If you want to increase the chance of serendipitously meeting Hollywood execs, move to LA. If you want to go for fashion, go to NYC or Paris. While much of IRL serendipity comes from being in an optimal physical location for your goals whereas much of digital serendipity comes from being on an optimal social media.
How to Optimize for IRL Serendipity:
Strategy 1: Move to a big city or meeting hub
Prior to living in NYC, I lived in a small town in New Jersey. It's way easier to meet ambitious people in the Big Apple. Just by being in NYC, I've increased the likelihood of a serendipitous encounter for my career or social life.
I've also increased the likelihood of being in the same city as my internet friends. It's very hard to meet up with Twitter friends when you live in a small town in NJ (although I did it 2x).
In NYC or a nomad hotspot like Bali, it's very likely that many of your internet friends will live in the city or be visiting for business or pleasure. Being somewhere central makes it 100x easier to meet up with your decentralized friends.
Strategy 2: Go to events & talk to strangers
When we were growing up, our parents told us not to talk to strangers. But, it in real life and online, I try to live by this mentality:
I love how VC "let's grab a coffee" culture has trickled down to the rest of crypto and tech. At crypto and startup events, everyone's down to chat. We're all playing a positive-sum game and can potentially help each other out in the long run.
If you're in NYC, I highly recommend Launch House's What's Poppin newsletter. It's a curation of dope free events from Launch House and other crypto/tech companies.
How to Optimize for Digital Serendipity:
Strategy 1: Choose the Right Social Media (For You)
Instagram ≠ Twitter ≠ TikTok ≠ LinkedIn
All social media platforms are different. If you're a visual creator, then Instagram and TikTok are the place to be. If you're a writer or techie, then Twitter and LinkedIn are the places to be.
Trying to build on the wrong social media platform is fucking brutal. Would you rather push a piano up a hill or down a hill? Choose the easiest one, get some traction, and then branch out to others.
Strategy 2: Send cold messages
Once you realize you can cold message most people and nothing that bad will happen (worst case, they ignore or don't see), a whole world of possibilities opens.
— "Leigh Marie" Braswell (@LM_Braswell)
Aug 17, 2022
Sending cold messages changed my life. Cold messages have led me to:
Meet some of my best friends
Interview millionaire founders on my podcast
Make $$$ on freelancing gigs and digital apprenticeships
Specifically, if you're messaging high-status people, here's the 1 thing you need to remember: your $/hr < their $/hr.
Sound harsh? In the words of Kendrick Lamar, "there's levels to this shit, sit down, be humble." So if you know your time is inherently less valuable than theirs, what do you do? Make it very simple for them to respond.
Send short messages
Sometimes a DM will lead to a life-changing opportunity. Other times, this will happen lol.
Strategy 3: Make content
Making content is a magnet for like-minded people. It's not just writing. It could be TikToks, YouTube, whatever.
If you put your genuine thoughts on the internet, you'll attract people on your wavelength. (Of course, you need to send dms too — the phone works both ways).
How to increase luck:
— @jackbutcher (@jackbutcher)
Jul 7, 2020
When you consistently put out work, people will reach out to you and say nice stuff. Plus, if people can see your thoughts online, people will be far more likely to:
Respond to DMs
Take phone calls
Meet for coffee
People will say you're so lucky you meet all these cool people online. But, it's not luck. Putting your thoughts on the internet helps people trust you more. You're showing a part of yourself. Plus, you're adding value to the community.