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Luck Isn't About Chance, It’s About Opportunity

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Noel Bushnell, the founder of Atari, once said that everyone who is taking a shower has had an idea, but it’s the people who get out of the shower and do something about it that make the difference. Luck was a huge part of the Netflix story is how Marc puts it. Their luck wasn’t just coincidence or chance. They had positioned themselves well, in other terms they were prepared to catch it. They spent weeks brainstorming ideas, following them as far as they could hoping that one of them would work.

Marc adds in an article he wrote for Quartz, “Most people have a kind of survivor bias about luck. When something wonderful happens—when preparation meets opportunity, with excellent results—we think: “How lucky!” But we don’t usually acknowledge all the times when things just … fizzle out. All the times when preparation comes to nothing.”

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Although sometimes we do see the failures. The catch is, that luck and catastrophe are two sides of the same coin. And just as preparation can help you take advantage of opportunities, a lack of them can be detrimental as well. Basically, risks get riskier if one is not prepared.

He goes on to add that this theory of it could not have been truer when it came to the outdoors. Marc spent a lot of time outdoors as a teenager. He was into wilderness, hiking, climbing, and leading expeditions for The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). A place that taught him a lot about discipline, self-reliance, and interpersonal relationships. And over the years it has become ingrained in him to be prepared. “Because when things go wrong in the mountains, they go wrong in an instant. And the consequences aren’t just financial. They’re often life or death.” Marc goes on to add, “Whether it’s in the mountains or the boardroom, true innovators have to be comfortable with taking risks.”

Marc’s goal was to find a balance. He has been happily married for thirty years along with co-founding Netflix and proudly accepts that his number rule in life is to stay married. He mentions in his talk with Jay Shetty on a podcast that, the thing he is the proudest of is not the fact that Netflix became what it is or his other accomplishments, but that he did all those stuff and stayed married to the same woman and that his kids know him and like him.

His choice to leave Netflix goes hand in hand with his want to spend time with his family, be there for his kids as they grow up, and mentor entrepreneurs. And mentoring entrepreneurs gave him the excitement of the start-up world without the hard 24/7 lifestyle. He writes in the memoir that he stepped down as president and board member so he could sell his shares without frightening shareholders: “Banks and investors don’t usually view a high-ranking executive in the company selling off massive amounts of stock as a good thing.” He can afford to do whatever he wants on his terms, spending time with his family and mentoring other entrepreneurs. “I still have long lists of things that I want to accomplish every day,” Marc says. “There are still things I want to learn, but now it’s my own list.”

Presently, Marc lives in Santa Cruz, California with his wife Lorraine Kiernan Randolph.

and their three children. He served as a director in an analytics software company Looker Data Sciences, which he also co-founded. He is the chairman of the board of trustees of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Lander, Wyoming; where he spent summers of his high school and college working as one of its youngest instructors. He takes pride in managing to go surfing more than many of us despite his schedule. His father gave him a handwritten list of instructions when he graduated college. He later passed on to his own children. The original note hangs next to his bathroom mirror. 

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