Is It Better to be Lucky or Smart?




Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We have a friend who buy and sells businesses. He’s been very successful over the last thirteen years. He started out by buying a bunch of businesses for a small amount of money. A few years later, he sold those businesses for a large amount of money.

Then he did it all over again. He’s timed his activities so he buys when the market is low, and sells when it’s high.

So is he lucky or smart?

He says, “It’s better to be lucky than smart.”

3 lessons about luck and intelligence

#1 – You have to be smart in order to do well.
When you first look into a subject, it often appears rather simple. Then as you dig deeper, you start to see all the complexity. As you wade through it, you begin reducing it to its essence and you start to see it as simple again.

You go from simple with no complexity to simple with a full understanding of the complexity. That’s how you know you’ve mastered something. Our friend has mastered the craft of buying and selling businesses.

#2 – You have to remain humble.

You have to recognize that you’re not in control of everything. Luck enters the picture to some degree. The opposite of that is arrogance. Some people don’t realize, or won’t admit, that luck is involved.

They get cocky. They think the rules don’t apply to them. Things come easy for them so they think they will always come easy. They don’t have to “waste” time doing menial activities – the things that made them successful in the first place. The next thing you know, they face an unlucky turn of events!

#3 – Don’t push your luck.
Our friend says that “he leaves a lot of money on the table.” He often says, “I sold it too early.”  But that’s why he’s been so “lucky” – he’s not greedy.

We have another friend who says,

“It’s okay to be stupid, if you’re not greedy.
And it’s okay to be greedy if you’re not stupid.
But if you’re stupid and greedy, look out!”

So is it better to be lucky or smart? We think you’re lucky to be smart – smart enough to know that luck plays into it, too!

Jake’s Take – Top 5 signs that you’re unlucky!
by Jake Novak

#5 – You've been asked to lead the marching band in your local St. Patrick's Day parade, but you play the cello!

#4 – Some people reach into their pant’s pockets and find loose change. You try to reach into your pockets and realize you're not wearing pants!

#3 – Like everyone else this year, you get a lot of those automated campaign calls during dinner, but these recorded calls urge you NOT to vote for their candidate!

#2 – You've always been the first on the block to buy the coolest new electronic equipment, like 8-track tapes, the BetaMax, and HD-DVD!

#1 – When you go to the doctor, they ask you for your insurance card – your LIFE insurance card!

Instead of our usual bigg quote, we’ll do an Irish toast instead:

May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold.

And hopefully, it’s not fool’s good!

Check out our Bigg Fun page for more St. Patrick’s Day humor!

In our next blog, we’ll discuss nine presentation tips to make you a star! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Related posts 

Does It Pay To Be Smart?

Do You Know Too Much? 

(Image by cobalt123, CC 2.0)

Top 5 Signs You’re Managing Your Money Like Wall Street

Some of the smartest people in the world work on Wall Street. Yet the news is ripe with Wall Street’s woes. Today, we’ll discuss some lessons that you can learn from their mistakes.

We talked with Jake Novak on The Bigg Success Show. He shared his five signs that you’re managing your money like Wall Street. You can hear all of the fun if you listen to the show.

About Jake Novak
Jake is a comedy writer whose material is used by more than 100 radio stations across the world! His humor is also featured in weekly columns in Newsday and The Jewish Week. When Jake's not making people laugh, he teaches Journalism at New York University. Jake is also with the recently-launched Fox Business Network.

Top 5 Signs You’re Managing Your Money Like Wall Street

#5 – You'd run up huge debts on your credit cards, then demand that the government forgive those debts, cut interest rates, and then send you and everyone else you know checks for $600.

#4 – You'd hire someone to handle your finances, and even after he failed miserably, you would give him a $100 million severance bonus. Then you'd prove you learned from that mistake by hiring a new financial advisor with a guaranteed severance of at least $200 million.
#3 – After losing your shirt in a string of bad investments, you'd immediately go on a crusade to convince all your neighbors that your problems are their problems too. CNBC would give you as much air time as you want to get that message across.
#2 – You'd spend 364 days a year exaggerating how rich you are, then spend all of tax day telling the government you haven't made a dollar all year.

#1 – After going over your finances and finding you're nearly broke, you decide to blow your last dollars getting the local little league baseball field named after you.


  • Beware of following the herd.
  • The herd often gets over-exuberant. Smart investors often do the opposite. We recently wrote an article on how John Paulson made $3 billion last year [article, 169] with his hedge fund doing just this.

  • Don’t pay more taxes than you owe.
  • You must pay taxes, but you don’t have to pay a dollar more than you owe. Studies of Main Street millionaires show that they take tax planning seriously. Take a lesson from Wall Street and Main Street – hire a good tax planner!

  • Watch your debt load.
  • Don’t buy it unless you can pay cash. If you do use a credit card, pay it off in full every month. If you can’t do that, you can’t afford it. After all, YOU can’t count on the government to bail you out!

  • Look out for ego boosters.
  • Forget the little league field. Dump the stock when your company gets their name on a major league stadium. That’s just one of the signs that the CEO is likely building his or her legacy, not your nest egg!

If you’ve laughed with the lessons learned today, share it with a friend!

Our bigg quote today is by the writer Gertrude Stein.

“Money is always there but the pockets change.”  

In every market, there are winners and there are losers. Use these tips so you end up with more than pocket change.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day so we’ll discuss the heads-up way to follow your heart.

We give a bigg thanks to Jake Novak for sharing his wit and wisdom with us today!

Until next time, here’s to your bigg success.