How to Improve Your Luck — The Concept of a “Luck Surface Area”

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Sahil Bloom wrote a Twitter thread about the concept of a “luck surface area” that resonated with me.

The idea is that by doing more of the things that have the potential to lead to opportunity, you can improve your luck.

He cites a study and book by Dr. Richard Wiseman. The study used a simple test to compare how self-described “lucky” and “unlucky” people approached the same task.

The result? The lucky people seized the opportunity and found more success in the task.

The unlucky people approached the task more carefully, explored less, and viewed opportunities that were put in front of them with skepticism. This resulted in the unlucky group reaping fewer rewards in the study than their lucky peers.

The Luck Surface Area

What set apart the “lucky” individuals in Wiseman’s study was not natural phenomenon, or chance. Rather, it was their willingness to approach situations with a positive, open-minded attitude.

Per Richardson’s research, these individuals exhibited similar characteristics in their daily lives:

  • Take alternate routes to and from work so they have the chance to meet new people and see new things.
  • Being intentional about practicing socializing in different group settings, like parties and gatherings.
  • Being resilient, adaptive, maintaining a positive outlook, and moving past negative circumstances.

These habits demonstrate an effort to increase their “luck surface area.” In other words, they play a numbers game. The more often they put themselves out there with the opportunity for good things to happen, the more often good things will happen.

As an introvert who is admittedly set in his routine, reading this was eye-opening for me.

You can’t meet new people, have new experiences, or come across new opportunities by doing the same things you always do.

So if anyone else is looking to increase their luck surface area, too, here are tangible habits you can build to increase your luck:

  1. Shake up Your Routine and Try New Things
  2. Build a Content Creation Habit
  3. Meet New People in Real-Life and Online

Let’s jump into how you can apply each of these strategies.

1. Shake Up Your Routine and Try New Things

Key takeaway: Be intentional about changing your schedule and usual habits in order to meet new people and expose yourself to the opportunities that arise from new connections.

You might have heard the philosophy that when you first move to a new city you should say “yes” to everything for a few months.

The idea is a temporary “yes” mentality will help you discover enough new things and new people to set up your life in your new city.

Did you get invited to a happy hour by new co-workers? Go check it out. Were you recommended a new workout class? Grab your gym clothes.

Exploring these new settings, hobbies, and social circles will massively increase your luck surface area, and in turn, expose you to new opportunities.

This same network effect concept applies to your current town or city. Stop going to the same coffee shop every day, eating at the same restaurants, walking the same routes, etc. It decreases your chances of making new connections. You never know how those connections could bring you some “luck.”

Action Items:

  1. Identify areas in your routine where you have the opportunity to make relatively small adjustments that have the potential for outsized returns. For example, if you work in coffee shops, choose 10 new coffee shops you will go to in the next 2 weeks.
  2. Make an effort to immerse yourself in these environments. Introduce yourself to the employees at the coffee shop or new gym, say hi to regulars, etc.
  3. Do this for several weeks and reflect on what happened. Did you meet new people? Did you follow up on invitations to try new things?
  4. Rinse and repeat with another aspect of your routine.

2. Build a Content Creation Habit

Key takeaway: Creating content online and building an audience increases your digital footprint. This can bring in new opportunities just like exposing yourself to new people and places in the physical world yields opportunities.

This idea comes from my experience building corporate brands, creating digital content, and designing lead-generation funnels. In the marketing world, the bigger the audience and digital footprint your brand has, the higher the likelihood you will generate business leads as customers discover your marketing channels and content.

The same thing applies to individuals and their personal brands. The content you create and your social media channels represent your digital footprint, or in the terms of this article, your digital luck surface area.

I wrote this piece on why employees would want a personal brand. One of the key benefits that I discussed was the idea that creating more content online and building an audience will increase people’s exposure to professional opportunities.

Start Creating and Engaging

By creating content on social media platforms, engaging with other users' content, and making real connections, you can expose yourself to opportunities ranging from jobs and customers for your business to new friends.

In a world where we spend so much time online, your digital presence and footprint can be just as lucrative as your footprint in the physical world.

Action Items:

  1. Choose a marketing channel like LinkedIn or TikTok based on your content creation skills and target audience. If you enjoy writing and have a professional audience in mind, LinkedIn is great. If targeting a younger consumer audience and creating video content is a better fit for you, TikTok is a good choice.
  2. Set mini goals for the amount of content you create each week, the number of comments you leave on other people’s posts, and the number of direct messages you respond to.
  3. Do this for 1–2 months and reflect on your results.

3. Meet New People in Real Life and Online

Key takeaway: Remember that making connections professionally and personally is a numbers game. In both cases, always prioritize depth and substance over quantity.

This next tip is a lens you can apply while considering the previous two tips.

As you change your routine and create content online, you should do so with the mentality that you are giving yourself the opportunity to make meaningful connections. To do so, you need to have a lot of “first dates.”

I read another insightful Twitter thread (I’ll admit I misplaced the bookmark) in which a user shared her online dating journey. To increase her chances of success, she approached dating like a business lead generation funnel — as a marketing professional I obviously found it to be amusing and intriguing.

Her strategy was:

  1. Get as many dating apps matches as she could.
  2. Start conversations with all of those matches and progress engaging conversations to a first date.
  3. Progress good first dates to second and third dates.
  4. Eventually, she found her ideal partner out of the short list of candidates who made it through her dating lead generation funnel.

By playing the luck surface area strategy, she gave herself tons of opportunities to meet new people. This increased the likelihood of her finding a compatible partner. And it worked.

The graphic is a table visualizing how dating connections progress from early awareness to a compatible partner in a similar fashion to the way professional connections and customer leads develop into relationships.
While it may be humorous, the philosophy behind business lead generation, professional network growth, and dating all share a common theme: the more connections you have, the greater your chances are of success. Image created by the author.

This idea doesn’t just apply to dating. The same concept works for networking and making friends, too.

The more people you meet and the more conversations you have, the higher the likelihood you build new relationships with people.

Action Items:

  1. As you try new things and go to new places (tip number 1 above), try to make as many initial connections as you can.
  2. See which of those connections move on to the second stage. Connecting online, meeting for a coffee, etc. Basically, anything that gets past an initial conversation or two.
  3. From there, see which relationships make it through this progressive “funnel,” and become valuable members of your professional network, or personal social circle.

Final Thoughts

No one is certain whether luck truly exists. What is certain is in order to welcome any type of luck, you need to structure your life in a way that offers maximum exposure to potential opportunities.

Use the tips in this article to increase your own “luck surface area,” and see what your efforts bring you.

Bonus Insights

About the Author

Hi, I'm Justin and I write Brand Credential.

I started Brand Credential as a resource to help share expertise from my 10-year brand building journey.

I currently serve as the VP of Marketing for a tech company where I oversee all go-to-market functions. Throughout my career I've helped companies scale revenue to millions of dollars, helped executives build personal brands, and created hundreds of pieces of content since starting to write online in 2012.

As always, thank you so much for reading. If you’d like more personal branding and marketing tips, here are more ways I can help in the meantime:

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