Three years ago I received an email from a former co-worker who had left the company three months prior. He was inviting me and four other coworkers to catch up over dinner while he was in town. I gladly accepted. Little did I know, that tiny decision would lead to my next career and move to beautiful San Francisco.
Serendipity is powerful and by definition, unpredictable. Yet, these delightful surprises often have the largest impact on our life.
Serendipity has certainly shaped my life and led to several unexpected opportunities.
Here are a few:
During my junior year in college, I felt obliged to engage more with my university community. One night I attended an American Marketing Association meetup (it was conveniently located in the same building after my last class of the day).
That decision eventually led to me joining AMA and landing an internship at a startup in the video game space. This internship graduated to a full-time (paid) role, a career in startupland.
As a long-time reader of Nir Eyal’s blog, I casually sent him an email to see if he wanted to meetup. He generously responded and a week later we met up at The Counter in Palo Alto for dinner.
We connected, sharing anecdotes and thoughts on startups. Unexpectedly (to us both), Nir asked if I wanted to help him with his book, Hooked. I gladly accepted the challenge and it all started with a harmless email.
Last month this tweet caught my eye:
— Nathan Bashaw (@nbashaw)
I responded with:
— Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover)
That brief exchange led to Startup Edition. Since it’s launch just a few weeks ago, we’ve brought together dozens of reputable, kickass bloggers in the startup community to share their stories and knowledge. And it all started from a tweet.
In reality, life-changing events are rarely planned. Although uncontrollable, you can increase the chances of encountering serendipity.
Here’s what I do to increase these unexpected opportunities:
What will instigate my next life changing opportunity? I don’t know - and that’s the point. You cannot manufacture serendipity but you can increase the chances of encountering it.
With the connectedness of the internet, the butterfly effect is stronger today, more than ever.