How to win life’s lottery

Tickets to ride

The acclaimed Richard Koch of The 80/20 Principle fame suggested thinking of life as a lottery, for which you can buy two types of ticket:

-red tickets – expensive & time-consuming to obtain, but the conventional route to success. Most people can only acquire a small number of red tickets, as they require a good deal of hard graft and experience; and

-green tickets – cheap to obtain, perhaps almost free – comprising information from casual acquaintances that we can turn to our advantage, with no practical upper limit on the number of tickets you can acquire.

Most green tickets don’t win the jackpot; but a few do.

In the game of Monopoly a set of properties the same colour are more valuable then a random collection of properties, notes Koch.

In real life, though, while a single red ticket such as a professional qualification or relevant work experience may be invaluable, it makes sense to acquire as many green tickets as you can to lever up your skills and experience.

Pocket full of pretty green

In my case, I got an undergraduate degree (red ticket), albeit secured through relatively ‘sporadic’ study (green ticket!), and then later trained and gained years of experience as a Chartered Accountant with one of the Big 4 accounting firms (red ticket).

There’s no question that red tickets such as these can form the foundations for great results, and the same is true of many other professional occupations.

But I found that when I set up my own business many years ago, the rate at which I could acquire green tickets increased exponentially simply through me being more open to new ideas and opportunities.

For example, in the past 6 months or so I’ve hosted a few of my own live events, consulted for hedge funds managing US$5-$10 billion, spoken at the European Conference of one of the major investment banks, and assisted a few high-profile Australians to acquire prime location real estate.

All of these opportunities came about through being open to networking and collecting life’s green tickets; and as a result I’ve got a list of exciting new projects in the pipeline too.

6 degrees of separation (small world)

I used to think business sounded boring as a concept, but today I see that there are infinite ideas, opportunities, and networks to be pursued – and it’s loads of fun!

In fact, it can be thrilling to be able to pursue new ideas every day.

This is not to say that you can’t apply the same principles as an employee: connect with and impress the key persons or influencers in your industry and you can leapfrog the traditional career hierarchy.

In 1967, social psychologist Stanley Milgram carried out one of his many experiments into how connected the world really is.

Even way back in the 1960s Milgram found that a relatively short chain of contacts connects people all around the world, so imagine how interconnected we are today with all of the technological advances since that time!

How to win life’s lottery

Here are 3 of the many ways to collect more of life’s green tickets, in doing so opening up ever more opportunities to win the jackpot:

(i) Be open to meeting new people – find mentors, smile, be approachable, and be open to chatting to or networking with strangers. Who knows where it might lead?;

(ii) Become a superconnector – linking people from diverse worlds together. With social media and the internet today, this avenue has become more accessible to more people than ever before; and

(iii) Be adventurous – go to new places, travel overseas, experience new things, and read fresh ideas. Most people don’t (at least, not enough).

Experiences differ, but for me I’ve found that good things happen when you meet new people in person – face to face – which might suggest you need to base yourself close to the action in your chosen field.

The world is changing, so I also believe you should try to read widely, and more often.

Don’t worry too much about the reward, for it will come in time.

Remember, the more green tickets you acquire, the greater your chance of winning a lottery jackpot.

So, there’s your answer; now go get yourself some green tickets!