How to get lucky (by Hiroshi Mikitani – CEO of Rakuten)

Whenever someone is successful, there will be another person on the sidelines complaining that person was “just lucky.”

We hear that sometimes at Rakuten. Our e-commerce business is successful and there are some who will say that we were lucky – we rode the wave of e-commerce popularity.

There is a secret to riding opportunity’s wave and becoming the “lucky” person. I am here to reveal it today.

Success is created out of the accumulation of many 0.01% improvements. It is through these improvements that you become able to grasp great opportunities. We call people who do business this way “lucky.”

It’s critical to understand how your efforts to improve, every day, even by a small amount, contribute to your being lucky.  Because it doesn’t matter how big an opportunity you are presented with. If you are not ready for it, you will not be able to seize it. Most likely, you will not even see it in the first place. Someone who has never learned to surf, never practiced the sport, will never be able to ride a wave no matter how big a swell comes along. Opportunity is the same. It’s true that Rakuten was able to rive the wave of the IT boom to great success. But for those who were unprepared for it, that same wave was a disaster. To ride opportunity’s wave, you must be prepared.

How to do that? 0.01% at a time. Just be a little more efficient today than you were yesterday and a little more efficient tomorrow than you were today. Get to your desk ten minutes earlier. Seek input from one more person. Look at your job objectively as if someone else were doing it – look at the errors and think about how you would advise another person to address those points. Each error has a reason – too much work, not enough time, not enough assistance. Address each one.

Set a framework for your efforts. Keep a record of their results. Commit to 0.01% improvement every day. And when the wave comes, you will be lucky.