There Is No Such Thing As a Secret To Success

How smart people get suckered into gambling with their business

Joe Procopio

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image by kamran aydinov

If someone is offering you the secret to success, run away.

Seriously, I can’t think of a more poorly-coded turn-of-phrase to describe a money-grab. In fact, it just seems dated and lazy. It’s like some copywriter somewhere didn’t take the time to dig into what the circus clown in question is actually selling — or they couldn’t be bothered to at least paint an original word picture around a well-rehearsed litany of platitudes.

I know the secret to success. No, for real this time — don’t run away.

But you’re going to be disappointed.

You know all those investor gurus that make a living selling their secret to investing? It’s the same thing.

Here’s the secret: Buy low. Sell high.

Here’s the problem: Unknowns.

No one knows what’s actually going to happen in the real world.

In business, even if you’re running a paint-by-numbers operation with a track record and proven methods and honest marketing, there are going to be enough unknowns once you hit the pavement to put both your success or failure in a world of doubt.

I liken this to poker. If you don’t play poker, skip to the next section where I’ll drop the secret to success.

Let’s say I have pocket aces. I’m going to win. Except there are five unknowns in the community cards that will follow.

Oh, there’s the ace of clubs on the flop, now I have three of a kind and I’m nearly unbeatable.

Wait, now there are three clubs on the board after the turn.

And then I get destroyed by a low-card flush on the river.

Those who do play poker are wincing because they’ve been there. Those who don’t, I actually suggest you pick up the game. Lots of life and business lessons hidden among those grizzled beardos and hoodie-wearing headphone punks.

The secret to success is to get really good at planning for the unknown.

I know that sounds like dancing about architecture, but it’s possible. In fact, anyone can do…

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com