How to Get Lucky

How to Get Lucky

Dustin Lien
March 20, 2015

Not that kind of lucky, you pervert.

I’m talking about lucky in business and in life. First off, being lucky has nothing to do with rabbits’ feet or destiny. Luck is a combination of good timing, paying attention, and acting quickly.

This is the untold story of how I met Noah Kagan from AppSumo/SumoMe/OkDork, a person I’ve long considered a “virtual mentor” of mine in business and marketing, and how good timing, paying attention, and acting quickly made it happen.

I was consulting for a web development company at the time, and it was about 4 p.m. PST. My wife called me while I was working and said, “Noah Kagan just tweeted at you!”

My wife doesn’t use Twitter very often, so honestly my first instinct was that he somehow stumbled across a tweet of mine and favorited it or something, but I looked, and he actually tweeted at me.

We’re only a few sentences in to the story, and I probably already sound like a 12-year-old girl talking about how dreamy One Direction is. Being giddy about tweets and whatnot…moving on.

Backing up for a second. Earlier in the day, I had posted one of his OkDork articles on Growth Hackers, and I guess it got him some good traffic, which is why he tweeted at me—to thank me for posting. Nice guy.

He noticed I lived in Venice, CA, and he was going to be visiting a friend there for a few days the following week, so he asked me if I knew of any good taco places.

I didn’t. I knew of 0 local taco places, but I wasn’t about to end the conversation by saying no, so I started Googling.

I found a place that had great Yelp reviews, and was a bit of a hole-in-the-wall place…perfect combo. I tweeted back at him and said I had heard it was good. He said thanks, and that was the end of the Twitter conversation.

Now, this was a critical point where I could have simply left it at that, and enjoyed the fact that I got to have the conversation.

At this point though, I knew he was going to be in my city the following Tuesday through Thursday, and it would be awesome to meet him, but I remembered reading a blog post he wrote in 2013 called 6 Steps to Writing Great Cold Emails. Here’s a quick excerpt for context:

“I get about 2 emails a day asking for coffee or advice. Lately, I’ve been deleting them because no one takes even a minute to write a well crafted email. I used to feel guilty but I figure since the person is being selfish, I can be as well.”

Basically, I knew he was being bugged all the time by people asking him to go get coffee or lunch so they can pick his brain and get free consulting, all the while only offering him a $4 coffee in return for his time.

I REALLY didn’t want to be “that guy”.

I did want to at least do something he would remember me by, and something he would appreciate as a small token of all his great, free advice I had consumed through his blog over the years.

So I called up the taco place I had recommended to him, and asked if they had gift cards, which they did, and I bought a gift card for him to have tacos on me.

I found an old email newsletter from him in my inbox, and replied to it letting him know there would be a gift card behind the counter of the restaurant in an envelope with his name on it as a small thanks for all the great advice.

I didn’t want to make him meet me somewhere for the gift card because that would seem like I was trying to trick him, which I wasn’t. I was just trying to do something nice, and something he’d remember me by.

He responded to the email, and asked me to go workout with him Tuesday morning, and grab lunch after. Here’s a post about a conversation we had that day about consistency. We did that, and I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in frequent contact with him.

All of this started with me posting a link on a website. Funny, isn’t it?

I got lucky by having good timing

I posted his blog link to Growth Hacker before anyone else did, and it started the whole interaction.

I got lucky by paying attention

By remembering his past blog post and respecting his time, I opted to not ask him to lunch, and as luck would have it, he asked me.

I got lucky by acting quickly

Responding to his tweets quickly and emailing him quickly paid off. Had I waited another hour, who knows if he would have seen my tweets back to him.

I got lucky.