Gettin’ Lucky

Out of the blue this week, I received a package at the office from one of the vendors I met at the CE/CI Summit in August. Apparently I won a set of virtual reality glasses from their booth’s raffle. That was the same Summit where Harry and I were put up in a positively ridiculous suite courtesy of the Summit’s Champions of Change contest from the 2014 Summit. Anyone who knows me knows that this is not an exceedingly unusual occurrence. Our house is full of cool gadgets and tech that we’ve won from various trade shows, events and promotions over the years. I’m just lucky, right?

Winning slot machine
You gotta play to win!

Here’s the thing. There is no reason you can’t be lucky too. It’s a matter of preparation and participation as much as probability and providence. You make yourself lucky by taking the first step.  As pretty much every lottery or casino says, “You gotta play to win.”  How did I get VR glasses? I dropped a card in a tradeshow booth’s fishbowl. How did we win a GoPro at Infocomm? Made sure we scanned badges at the right booth.  That epic suite at CE/CI Summit?  I filled out an entry form, and shared my experience at the previous year’s event.

Now, in each of these cases, yes – there is still an element of chance. But if you don’t take the moment to drop your card, scan your badge, complete your survey, your odds of gettin’ lucky are absolutely zero.  The fickle finger of fortune does not always point favorably in your direction to be sure. This afternoon at a training event, I was one of only six attendees to drop my card in the basket at registration. Odds were a mere 1:6 and I *still* didn’t win the $50 gift card.  But my 1 in 6 odds were far better than the 0% chance non-participants had!  And if you make a practice of always playing – always dropping a card, scanning a badge, completing a form – over time, you will win stuff. Win enough and suddenly you are known as “lucky” when really you just take enough chances that the odds are with you.

“Okay, Dawn,” you are probably thinking, “That’s great advice to win some free swag, but why does this idea really matter to me?  You wrote a whole post about how to win free crap?”

No. No, I didn’t.  

You see, the same underlying principle can be applied to achieve success and fulfillment in your career and personal activities too.  It’s all a matter of preparing and participating – putting yourself out there to get noticed and make key contacts.  Any schlub can get up, go to work, do their job and go home, collecting a paycheck along the way.  But successful people are the ones who volunteer for industry committees, conferences, and associations.  Successful people are the ones who go out of their way to advocate for the industry, a technology, or a cause, becoming known as subject matter experts or champions of the cause. Successful people are the ones whose names and/or faces are readily recognizable by competitors, partners and clients – locally, nationally or internationally – and are generally respected. And successful people are usually “lucky” as a result of putting themselves out there.

My own career journey is the result of such luck. I was new to the industry and worked for a tiny integrator. But I put myself out there and volunteered for the Infocomm PETC committee…and met some industry folks our little company probably never would have met. When Twitter came out, I joined and found the #AVtweeps community, sharing my thoughts and opinions with fellow AV pros and making some great contacts (and friends). One of those active #AVtweeps happened to write for a big industry magazine and our tiny company “lucked” into its first major magazine feature. I put my self and my thoughts out there further by starting a blog that was followed by several of those #AVtweeps, so when one of them had the crazy idea to start a new blogging and podcasting group, he contacted me and I “lucked” into a ground-floor position with AVNation.  And so on.  To quote an internet trope, my professional life has been pretty #blessed with luck, but in almost every case, that luck was predicated on my own actions.  

I think President Thomas Jefferson said it best – “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”  Good luck, my friends!

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