The Zen Of Making Luck In Business

December 11, 2020

We could all use a little luck right now, couldn’t we? It is cliche at this point to throw more shade on 2020 for all the bad things it has brought our way. I will spare you that. Instead, I would like to share with you how you can play an active role in bringing success to your team, your community, and yourself – in any business climate.

First, let’s go back to March of this year.

After we all accepted that we were now living in a global pandemic that would keep us from meeting face to face, and after the floor dropped out of business in many sectors of the economy, including mine, and after I had ridden my bicycle on all of the remote countryside roads I had ever wanted, my spirits began to drop.

Like so many of you, I run a business that provides a livelihood not only for my own family, but for the families of the many fantastic people that work with me at Robertson Associates. This privilege fills my sails in normal times. If you want to know more about that wind, you can read my post about Givers and Takers in the World of Executive Search. And as I am sure you can understand, this same responsibility can be a source of insomnia in economically challenging times for our industry.

To lift my spirits, I did some searching to discover who was having success in these COVID times?

That is when I came across something that has changed the business landscape for Robertson Associates. LUCK!

More specifically, I discovered Viannyette de Quelen. A beautiful name, don’t you think? Appropriately enough, a beautiful mind as well. Viannyette is the founder of Strateum Consulting in Paris; a colleague in the executive placement and consulting business. She spends her days with the most prominent CEOs of the “Cac 40”. I will share with you what I learned from her.

If we consider luck to be good fortune that falls on an appreciative heart, then you can proactively work to create luck in your (business) life.

How? Very simple indeed!

You start your lucky journey by focusing much of your energy on the well-being of others – something we in the talent industry are predisposed to do. Your stock in luck increases as you work to create opportunities for other people.

Sometimes this is a Linkedin profile you share, a recommendation you write, an introduction between individuals you believe can help each other. You might make a phone call on someone’s behalf or play the coach and help brush up someone’s CV. By helping others be successful, you increase the amount of luck in the world.

The acts are selfless, but you can have faith that rewards will return – so long as you are not looking for them in a quid pro quo fashion. The rewards arrive along two axes. First, you will see the fruits of your generative action in the success of the people in your community. That is, of course, rewarding.

Second, in facilitating success for others you are role modeling an abundance mindset. Good vibes don’t just fall out of the sky. When you live in a community of professionals who are getting what they need from the community, their natural inclination will be to give back to that community. As a leader in that community, you will be a recipient of the intentional gifts of others who wish success for you, just as you do for them


They are following your lead – not returning your favor

I find an image shared by John Amaechi during a conference I attended recently to be helpful in understanding the role of the business leader in uncertain times. Imagine you are leading your team along a trail in a wooded coastal forest at night. In the distance, there is a lighthouse. Your team’s goal is to make it to the lighthouse – together, safely. Everyone fears that the next step could lead them over the cliff to the rocky ocean below.

You alone possess the torch. The torch gives you the foresight you need to both guide, and to show. Use the torch to reassure everyone that there is a path, and you are on it together. When the trees part enough to see the revolving light from the lighthouse, you must draw your team’s attention to this image. That is the goal, and they must be reminded that it is there, and getting closer with your efforts.

The torch and the lighthouse are your tools to succeed, create luck and ultimately success not only for your team of course but for you and your career choices ahead. And this brings me back to my first assertion – you make your own luck.


The Robertson Associates lucky lighthouse

If you are reading this, you are on this lucky journey right now with me. Thank you for trusting me. I am happy to share with you that with this fresh approach to luck, Robertson Associates has been particularly successful with business development during COVID.

As of this writing, we are opening offices in Mumbai and Singapore, adding incredibly talented, giving team members to our ranks. We also initiated a large-scale IT transformation process…and that required a lot of torches and a bright lighthouse!


Don’t write a novel – just do what you do

I find examples of how pandemics inspire creativity to be of limited help right now. How many friends have shared with you that Shakespeare wrote his best work during the Bubonic Plague? We are not all creatives!

Most of us are inspired by the work we do and the people with whom we do that work. For that reason, I would suggest to you that you consider your new line of work to be an agent of luck.

The great thing about this new role, is that you do not need to leave your old one to accept the new title.

Though, by accepting this new title, you may soon find yourself in a position to change your former title ; )



Pierre Collowald is a Senior Partner at Robertson Associates.