Three recent observations about luck and opportunity

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{ or How to buy a $3,800 watch for only $6 }

For once, the old saying of “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” did not apply.  A spectacular little incident over the weekend reminded me of three key elements that have a great effect on luck and opportunity.  So I thought I would share the story of what happened and my take-aways from it.

A little story of how I got schooled and was clearly reminded of a few things about luck and opportunity:

A long time friend of mine is big into bargain hunting, shopping at surplus outlets and digging through junk at 2nd hand shops and so forth.  I admit I like a bit of bargain hunting, but she takes it to a whole different level.  It’s like a competitive sport for her.  Forever, she’s been telling me about all the great stuff she finds for pennies on the dollar at these 2nd hand places (which shall remain nameless here) and trying to get me to go.  Frankly, even I have my limits on how far I’ll “stoop” for a bargain, so I’ve been blowing off her invitations forever on the matter.

“In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.” – John Ruskin

So this past Saturday, this friend of mine tagged along to help me run a few errands, when the subject of these 2nd hand stores came up again and to make a long story short, she all but dragged me into one, all the while singing the argument that there is treasure to be found in other people’s junk.  I was not convinced, but went along this one time, hoping it would end the nagging on the subject once and for all.  And what did I see?  A whole lotta junk!  I’ll admit, there was a few surprisingly nice items priced to pretty much be given away for a few bucks, but I still just felt I did not belong there.

Feeling like I did my time, I started pushing for the exit, but my friend asked me sincerely “Would you mind if I just take a quick look at the little jewelry counter?”.  To which I begrudgingly agreed.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

So over to the jewelry counter we go where I reluctantly, but patiently, watch as she intently pressed her face to the display case and reviewed each of the items inside like a detective hard at work on a case.  She asked a reluctant clerk (who obviously wished she worked somewhere else) to pull out a few items in order to get a closer look and to my amazement, my friend whips out a high powered magnifying glass that was just so conveniently attached to her key chain.  I’m thinking “Really?  Is she really getting all CSI up in here on this pile of junk?!?”  The clerk cracked a huge grin of amusement and I was frankly a little embarrassed.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

After a few minutes of watching my friend hunched over the pile of discards with her little jeweler’s monocle, she suddenly pops back up and very calmly and seriously says to the clerk “I think I’ll buy this watch. It’s $6, right?”.  The clerk agreed and proceeded to the register to ring her up.   My friend turns to me and whispers “That looks like a pretty good watch.  I think it’s a real, Swiss made watch.”  I was just relieved to finally be getting out of there.

When we got to the car, I whipped out my iPhone to immediately attempt to identify what she had really just bought. I sarcastically laughed when I got my answer and reported “Well according to what I can find on the Internet, this appears to be a really expensive Rado Integra ceramic watch with real diamonds all over it.”   Must be a fake, right?  I mean… no way could this be real… right?  I proceeded to search the Internet for all the information I could to help identify and prove this watch was a mere replica piece.  We must have sat in the car for about 45 minutes – the both of us furiously wielding our iPhones as we scoured the Internet for information.  The watch’s integrity held up to everything I could throw at it.

Brimming with excitement, we immediately drove to a jeweler/watch expert who in fact identified the watch and reported the retail price tag of $3,800.  Score!

I got totally schooled that day. It was a good reminder about how your mindset and attitude can have a huge effect on your luck and opportunities in business and life in general.  So to recap, here are the simple take aways:

1) Pride can get in the way of opportunity

2) You must be willing to work to find opportunity

3) Opportunity is lost on those who are not prepared or looking (or even open to seeing it)

Think about it.

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About Tony Kinard

Digitally Innovative, Obsessively Creative, Fearless Advertising/Marketing Exec. For 16+ years I've had the honor of working with brilliant ad agencies, digital marketing innovators and technology vanguards. It's been amazingly fun and exciting work helping clients to successfully leverage tech innovations and new ideas. From scrappy startups to some of the best known brands in the world, I love the challenges they present. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some great ideas!

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