When I was in my early twenties a very successful businessman once said to me that he didn’t believe in luck. “I make my own luck” he said. “Making money is about staying focused and never forgetting why you’re in business”. I must say he made an impression on me but there was something cold about him, something that made me feel uncomfortable about emulating his style. 

Last Saturday night I had to give an impromptu fill in speech during the finals of the Young Belgian Talent competition in Brussels, and although it was not so much aimed at the young musicians in the hall but the business leaders and sponsors, I decided to re-visit the topic on luck and the conversation I had with the businessman all those years ago. 

It is clear to me that no matter how good you are at what you do, no talent scout is going to knock on your door unless you go to the places where talent scouts hang about.

The simple truth is that even if you are an amazing musician and even if you do manage to meet the person that can give you your big break, you have to ask yourself the fundamental question – Why should they? Think about it. Talent scouts, agents, whatever you want to call them, have probably met tens or hundreds of musicians like you, so why should they pick you? The answer is simple:

You will have:

  1. Engaged them with an interesting and challenging question
  2. Made an emotional connection as well as an intellectual one
  3. Allowed them to believe that they can help you. (No agent or entrepreneur likes to see a person in front of them that thinks they can make it on their own. First reaction is – then why are you talking to me)?
  4. Re-assured them that you have got it together, that you have the stamina to cope with doing what you do, day in, day out – no matter what the circumstances
  5. Made them feel that you are a nice person and could be fun to have around. (After all you’re going to have to spend a lot of time together over the next years).

In the strictest sense of the word I don’t believe in luck. But if you accept the definition of luck as being ‘Where preparation and opportunity meet’ then I am the biggest believer in the world. There is no ‘luck’ without preparation and no luck without making the most of every opportunity that comes our way.  In fact I go further, opportunities almost never come our way, we have to go out and find them! So perhaps after all the business man was right, it was probably just his attitude that failed to engage me.

Have a good week,