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Anil Yadagiry on “Luck and Opportunities” - The SmarTalks Show

What is the relationship between luck and opportunities? This is the topic Anil and I have chosen for the monthly episode of the SmarTalks Show!


I started the episode by asking Anil “What is the role played by luck in getting opportunities?” because I knew he had a very interesting perspective to offer.

Anil: People who do little use the word “luck” very often. The term “lucky” came into existence because we needed a word to describe someone who gets an opportunity without putting in the effort. In my opinion, however, what most people do not consider is that the person who is “lucky” is physically present in a place where there are opportunities. We need to make a link between luck and physical presence; when you are physically present in a place where there are opportunities, that is when the luck comes.


Let’s give an easy metaphor: if someone is handing out $100 on the street, you shall be there to collect the money. When you are physically available somewhere and you are putting the effort towards something, luck comes your way! 

Luck does not just happen to you; you must put in some effort to get lucky. In order to make the most of opportunities, or being a successful businessman and entrepreneur, you need to learn to create luck every day.


Anil does not believe in luck; he believes in choosing to be in the right place at the right time.

You must choose to be in that place (to take the first step, the leap of faith)! You do not know if you are going to get lucky, but if there is an opportunity you will take it!


In the corporate world, if you are in the right path and your manager leaves, you can end up being a manager. But if you are just sitting there, not doing anything, you will not be appointed to a manager position! 

Luck is about being physically, voluntarily, present; luck is about putting in the effort.


I found Anil’s perspective a brilliant and responsible way of looking at luck and opportunities.

If you want to get lucky, take the first step!

Be physically present and mentally ready to catch the opportunity as soon as it comes your way!


Hard workers and Smart workers

Matteo: According to neuro linguistic programming studies and conditioning, a self-limiting belief which was passed on to me from my family is that if you do not work hard for something, you do not deserve to enjoy it. You do not deserve to achieve it, to get it, and to enjoy it fully.

This is a huge problem because now more than ever we hear about working smart and not hard. If you have this self-limiting belief (and I know some readers have it) you will always self-sabotage yourself. When something great comes your way, you think “Wait I do not deserve this. I have not put any effort. No, this is not for me”.


Anil: Our ancestors thought used to think that luck should come to the hard workers. However, rather than doing a lot, I'd rather think about making smart choices. As we look into the real world, the most successful and smartest people are not hard workers, they are smart workers. Luck favored them because they were following the right path.

If the “competition” was about who works the hardest, everyone could easily compete because everyone is given the same ability to put in the effort. The mental work, however, is particularly challenging and not everyone excels at it. If hard work defined success, the world would be plenty of successful people. However, there are few people with the right mindset and strategy who outsmart the hard workers.


Matteo: I do realize that, sometimes, someone does nothing and wins the lottery. This could happen, but it is a one-in-a-million-time occurrence! In general, if you put in the time, the hours, the focus, the effort, you will get “lucky”, you will get the results. And this is what people do not understand. People say “Oh, my God, how is this person so lucky?”, without seeing that they are working on themselves, on the business, on providing more value than anyone else. We cannot call them lucky, especially if they do it repeatedly.


Here is a personal story: The first time I saw Anil investing money, he did a very good trade. I thought “Wow Anil is very lucky”. But then he did it again, and again, and again. “How lucky is this guy?”, I asked myself. And this is when it hit me: he is not lucky. He is putting in the knowledge, he is putting in the effort to improve every day. When you see someone who does it consistently for a period of time, you cannot call them lucky. Because it has nothing to do with luck.


Anil: Bitcoin was a good example: I was holding strong and investing in it, even though it crashed. I spent hours studying about it. I had the knowledge and of course I had discipline.


If you are doing the same thing, again and again, you will end up mastering it. For instance, if you practice the same speech 1000 times, you will be fluent. People will think you are lucky, when in reality you just did it over and over and over again! And once you compare with them doing it for the first time and you are doing it for the 1000th time, they will call you lucky, because they did not see you doing it the first 999 times.


The most important factor is discipline. Being consistent is tough. Why? Because discipline requires both hard work and mental strength to wake up to push yourself and do it. There is so much effort that goes into discipline, besides investing your time and getting in the right place in a timely manner,


Matteo: The message we are trying to pass is simply that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" as Seneca, Roman philosopher, reminds us. You might have heard “Audentes fortuna iuvat”, the original quote from Vergil's Aeneid. ("Fortune Favors the Bold"). You might have heard of “Serendipity”, an unplanned fortunate discovery.


There is an interesting study on serendipity, where the researchers staged a park with a café and they asked two people on the street “Do you feel lucky today?” The first one said “Oh, I'm feeling very lucky today. I feel good. I know something good is happening today”. The other person said “Today is a shitty day, I do not think I will be lucky”.


The researchers tracked these two people during the day and asked them,When you want, can you please drink a coffee at this café?” The café was of course staged; there was a $5 bill on the doorstep, and inside there were actors who could help these two guys. 

The first guy, the guy who thinks he is lucky, arrives to the café, looks on the ground and finds the $5. “Nice! I am going to buy a café!” He gets in, speaks to everyone, and meets an actor businessman who offers him an opportunity. When asked "How was your day?”, the guy said “Oh my God, it was amazing. I was so lucky. I met this businessmen!


The second guy arrives at the entrance of the café. He does not see the $5 bill. He goes in and he does not speak to anyone. He just pays for the coffee and gets out. When asked "How was your day?”, he answered "Zero opportunities. I was not lucky. I did not like this day, I told you it was going to be a shitty day.


The researchers realized that the way we look at our life and our day is going to influence it. If you think you are going to have unplanned fortunate discoveries, you are going to have them. If you do not think you are going to have them, you will not have them.

Anil: This is also what the book “The secret” is built on. If you think you are gonna get it, you are gonna get it. If you think you are not gonna get it, you are not gonna get it! There is also a quote that says “The person who think he can, and the person who thinks he cannot, are both right”. It is all in your mind. How you build that beautiful concept of law of attraction.


A very important reflection is on the second person. Even if he missed that $5 on the floor, who cares? Had he been positive and open minded, he could have spoken to the business man, he would have changed his life around!

Just because you had one bad event in the morning, you should not let it ruin your whole day!

You must look at the other events as opportunities! What if everything was bad but, at the end of the night, you actually got a lucky call saying you received an amazing offer? Life is about staying positive under all circumstances. We are influenced by the negative environment, we survive in a negative world, I always feel that. That is why people are struggling to be positive. Be happy, smile, you might make someone’s day happy and you might end up making fortunate business with a stranger. Luck may not be there in the beginning, but with the right attitude you can always have it at any time when you are showing up with the right mentality.


This is exactly what Anil said before: discipline + mental strength.

You need a combination of both, because if you are mentally weak and fall into negativity, you will not able to pick yourself up. The day starts bad, any goes bad! And it ruins not only yourself, but also the people around you. It creates a bad environment.


Anil is very picky on how he spends his time. He is always open to opportunities and I realized that he spends a lot of time evaluating if they are good or bad opportunities.


The concept he often mentions to me is the risk-reward ratio, and I therefore asked him if he could explain to our listeners a little bit more about the concept and why it is so important.

Anil: I love this concept. It applies to investments, life, time, emotions, mental strength.

Let’s make an example with time. One day I watched a masterclass episode where they said “Look at time as if you were investing money” and it changed my perspective!

When you are investing time, you need to ask yourself: will this pay off in the long run? Am I investing it in the right place? Am I investing it with the right people? Will my business grow in that time?

This ties in nicely with risk-reward ratio because I typically get into every opportunity. I explore them all because you never know what could pick up, what could go up. I want to open possibilities while, at the same time, minimizing my risk.


People mainly look at the reward side of opportunities, while they should think about the risks involved and minimizing those risks. For instance, when you accept a job offer, the reward is the nice salary and the career progression. At the casino, you gamble and the reward is that you could win a lot of money. When you look at the reward, you get excited and this may cloud your judgement. I am guilty of this.


I wanted to get into trading to make a lot of money. I then realized that I was absolutely wrong when I started losing money! I looked at why successful people were successful, and I understood that they look at the risks first, and the reward later. That concept changed me completely. I started being mentally prepared for the risk, knowing that if I get a reward I could hit the jackpot.


When it comes to time, if I am investing my time talking to you, I do not know if there will be a reward of a great friendship, but I am willing to “risk” it because if our friendship grows, our business grows, the reward will be beautiful. 

Same with stocks. If you invest $10 and have a stop loss at $8, you might lose $2, but the possibility of converting $10 to $20 is appealing. Most people get scared and lose out on opportunities because there is a risk factor involved. But they do not look at the risk-reward ratio that is available: if you lose, you lose $2, but if you win, you can make $20. That is 1 to 10 ratio, a beautiful ratio!


I would strongly recommend people to look at life, time, etc. through the risk-reward ratio concept, and start looking at the risk first, before you see the reward.

Mentally and physically prepare yourself for the risk beforehand, otherwise if you only look at the reward and you do not get it, you fall into depression, you get anxiety, you doubt yourself, because you are prepared for the reward, you have a high expectation towards the investment or towards people! When the expectation is unmatched, you resent the investment, the person you spent time with, or even yourself.

But if you already prepared for the risk, you have nothing to lose. Right? I believe in this beautiful concept of risking to a limit that I can accept and sleep peacefully. You might wake up to a reward that is 10 times higher than the risk, or you might wake up with nothing but still be happy that you tried.


If you have not read Anil’s reflection with focus, I would highly advice to go back a few lines and read through it again, because it is brilliant. This is the key for anyone who wants to appreciate and consider opportunities.

First of all, you need to know where the opportunities are, so that you can go get them.

Secondly, you need to be able to distinguish between good and bad opportunities; if you do not know, because sometimes we actually don't know exactly if it is a good or bad opportunity, analyze the risk reward ratio! If you are investing $200, you risk losing $100 but you can win $500 for instance, that is an interesting risk reward ratio! And this is what people do not see, unfortunately.

And be careful about not making the mistake of getting paralyzed by the analysis. Sometimes, I try so hard to understand what opportunity is the best, and I have not taken any action. I have not invested into anything. What if I took action, and then evaluated afterwards?


Anil: When you understand risk-reward ratio, failure is out of the equation.

The biggest problem of people doing anything, being an entrepreneur or being self employed or being an investor is failure, right? You will eliminate the fear of failure as soon as you calculate the risk reward ratio.

If you are risking a lot, you accept that beforehand. Since you accept that risk beforehand, you do not feel that failure at all because you know you planned your risk.