He's probably worth $50m as one of the top 250 sellers. Probably ~20 SKUs. Tons of competitors trying to bring him down but his product has so many reviews that it is just a money printer.
He was smart to be at the right place at the right time. He undercut the bigdogs back in the day (~10 years ago maybe?) and gained momentum.
He refused to admit to me that he was lucky. He refused to admit that he had the right idea at the right time. Was his execution great? You bet. Good marketing/product advertising/images/pivoting/getting through hardships/blah blah blah.
But like... he couldn't do again if he had to start from scratch in 2019. Things are different. And he refused to acknowledge that. He wanted to believe everything he did was perfect and he got his wealth purely from skill.
I think that's a bad trait :(
>But like... he couldn't do again if he had to start from scratch in 2019. Things are different.
This is a losing attitude, a quick search of almost any category on Amazon will show more recent products that are China rebrands with thousands of reviews.
Here is one: https://www.amazon.com/JavaPresse-Grinder-Conical-Brushed-St...
You can find exact copies on Aliexpress for $10.
You can't prove it's impossible to do what he did today. Others are actively doing it.
>I think that's a bad trait :(
Being proud of your accomplishments is not a bad trait. Thousands of people had the same opportunities as him, yet he came out on top (or top 250, in your example).
A need to balance out the notion that "anyone can do it".
There is a whole genre of get-rich-quick scammers claiming that exact thing:
Just because something is possible does not mean it is common. Why didn't all the hard-working software entrepreneurs from the 1980s end up like Bill Gates? Discounting luck and good timing leads to the Horatio Alger fallacy.
If you study hard and get good grades, you might find yourself in a position where someone needs to hire for a role that you're already prepared for. Sure, there's luck in bumping into that person, but you worked hard to be able to take advantage of opportunities, so I'd say luck had very little to do with your success. If it wasn't this lucky break, there would be another one.
If you brush off school and happen to get hired by a boss that could care less if you do work of any quality, that's mostly luck and probably not repeatable.
Sure, Gates and Bezos experienced luck during their careers, but I'd be willing to bet that the dominant trait in their growth was hard work and intelligent decision making. Some people like to think of them as happening to be in the right place at the right time, but I think they worked hard to prepare themselves with the skills necessary to see those massive opportunities and were obsessed with moving as fast as possible towards their goals.
It's not as if the qualifications are simply to be smart and hard-working, and then a random drawing is held to determine the winner.
Instead, there are countless micro-decisions and actions that go into execution. The likelihood that any two people are executing an idea in exactly the same way is vanishingly small, even if they are both smart and hard-working.
I don't think OP meant as black and white as you see it. There is some luck factor involved in many of the successful projects. What people should be wary of is thinking of it as a formula for success - add x and then y and voila you win. It is not that simple.
Many accomplishments are mostly luck? Japan Rugby beat South Africa in a 7s match a while ago. Are the players now entitled to call themselves better than those on the South African team? I mean, sure they could, but it would be obviously false, and nothing of value is gained. This reduces all the way down to “accomplishing” choosing lottery numbers.
This got me wondering how we might prove which accomplishments are luck vs skill.
Michael Mauboussin's 2012 book dives pretty far into separating luck from skill, worth checking out, or at least the more interesting online reviews / interviews. It covers sports, investing, etc.
You can control the random seed in some games (duplicate bridge), but more often, you just want an enormous number of samples.
Even with large sample sizes there are still debates (poker [2, 3], investing [4, 5]).
So if we come back and want to assess one individual life? No idea how confidently we can sort out how much was luck and how much was skill for anyone at n = 1.
It's like watching one poker hand. We can point to the cards. We can point out that they didn't make incredibly rookie mistakes. Beyond that? Who knows.
But then... I guess you could say... The guy who has played a million hands of poker is more skilled than the guy who played one.
By analogy, how good at this can any of us really be?
We'd all definitely be better at life if we had a few more tries.
Late comment, just had been mulling it, wanted to park it somewhere.
 True score theory: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/truescor.php
 Investors might have incredible careers only to face allegations of survivorship bias. I had some anecdotal
source here but lost it over the last day of sleeping on this. Sorry. Here's a wikipedia page? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias
Then these people say they were much better than the others, while objectively they were executing at about the same level.
If everyone does everything right, there will still be winners and losers.
The reality is that probability * (work + cleverness) = success.
The size of the probability makes a big difference. If it's too low you're likely wasting your time.
You can improve it with good business/sales techniques, but if it's tilted the wrong way you're always going to be fighting against it.
Objectively, you'd need to know the hit rate for specific business ideas/approaches/fields.
Realistically, some fields are more likely to be successful than others. Analytics, sales aids, and off-shore arbitrage are far more likely to make money than - say - software support for the disabled, or starting a band.
Yeah, maybe he couldn't do that on Amazon in 2019, but he might just as well not try, in favor of something more doable today. That is, part of what the OP calls luck is essentially the recognition of the opportunity, which in itself should be added to the list of skills.
This misses the point by a country mile. The skill is knowing and predicting the when and where in addition to executing on the what.
I'm sure sociologists have a name for this, but to me it represents people who have a big hole to fill regarding self-worth. By believing they accomplished something because they are extra-uniquely special is a way to try to fill that hole.
If you take a formerly successful person and have them start over, their stature (titles, money, contacts) can often give them starting benefits that can indeed make their following ventures successful - or at least more likely successful than if they had started with little more than their skills.
There are old, wealthy people who have made a life out of repeating "successes". Some find their way into positions of great global power, and they unfortunately believe they know more than anyone else (and will state such without any shyness).
Fundamental attribution bias? "Everything bad that happens to me is because of external factors beyond my control. Everything bad that happens to you is your fault." And the opposite: "I'm skilled, you're just lucky."
Nothing teaches this better than a game of Dota2.
The hard truth is that everyone comes by opportunities in life (call it luck) but very few people have the knowledge and experience to achieve something meaningful out of those opportunities.
And source the most popular kids items from Alibaba and use language to market it to whomever your locale is.
He did, his skill was to get on it at a right time in a right place. His skill was to keep working on it and believing in himself. Saying it was due to luck is just pure disrespect.
Are you lucky or unlucky? Are your circumstances lucky or unlucky? Your answer to that question doesn’t impact your circumstances — what happens to you — but it does significantly impact your mindset and behavior — what you make happen. A person who believes in bad luck is disempowering themselves. A person who believes in good luck does the opposite: priming themselves to see patterns of opportunity where the unlucky brain sees patterns of obstacles.
Do these beliefs change anything about the real opportunities or obstacles that come our way? Not one bit. But beliefs dramatically affect what we see and what we do.
Having said that, in my case I am special. I actually am objectively the luckiest person I’ve ever met.
But I have a good example and anecdote here. I used to work at a startup that went from 60 million views a month to a few billion (Facebook videos). Some people would say, “you were just at the right place at the right time, when Facebook decided to promote video.” That’s true, for sure. However, the right way to describe it is, “I am a really lucky guy. If it hadn’t been Facebook promoting video, it would have been some other lucky break.”
Another anecdote: divorce. Whenever I encounter a thought that starts to resemble self-pity, I remember how lucky I am, and that for the next three days, instead of sulking to myself about not seeing my kids, I actually have something most parents never get: three days of distraction-free time to work on a product that I believe will change the world.
Perhaps I’m deluding myself? There’s no perhaps. I am most definitely deluding myself. But some delusions can help. Being lucky is definitely one of them, with perhaps one additional caveat: that being lucky doesn’t mean I win lottery tickets. It means if I never give up, and I work as insanely hard as possible, and have the humility to change as circumstances dictate, that my good luck ensures I can’t lose. Oddly enough, it is my belief in luck that encourages me to never stop looking for it to be realized. Pretty silly, but it works for me!
Wouldn't it be better to believe the truth that beliefs don't change the circumstances that come our way instead of believing in good or bad luck? The downside of thinking you're lucky is a tendency to overlook problems. I've noticed that when people (including myself) are being overly optimistic, potential challenges and pitfalls are minimized.
One could argue that it is that exact overlooking of the problems that enables many to embark in entrepreneurial pursuits to begin with.
The key to good luck is an open mind - [http://nautil.us/blog/-the-key-to-good-luck-is-an-open-mind]
So luck can be a factor, but may be that also could be a trait?
In practice that particular thread likely required all kinds of environmental details to occur - details the entrepreneur might not have noticed at the time, might have forgotten about later, or might be discounting as unimportant.
However, at the end of the day, you are taking a risk, it's a gamble. What stops most people is the fear of failure. This fear isn't necessarily unwarranted. As the author points out, he has a previous failed startup. Most people don't have the drive to work hundreds of hours after work and possibly invest their own hard earned cash in a project they suspect deep down might not actually pan out. I know I find it difficult.
Still, I don't dislike these stories. It's good if it inspires people to take (calculated) risks, and it is possible to learn from failures. Though I would also say that yeah, there's probably some self-selection going on. The people out there with 2 or 3 failed attempts at monetizing side-projects probably don't feel super eager to write a blog post and tell us all how we can improve our lives by following in their footsteps.
But there are many, many people who do have the circumstances to make it happen, and who would benefit from it, but who make wrong choices and waste their time elsewhere. Those are the people who the article is intended for.
Speaking more broadly - The fact that this business strategy isn't immediately available to every person on Earth doesn't seem that fruitful of a point to make. Why does this come up every time someone posts about anyone doing anything entrepreneurial and succeeding? What is the message for disadvantaged people in our society? "You have no chance of succeeding because of your circumstances; give up now"? Somehow, this external-locus-of-control  viewpoint seems very attractive to people to the point that they actually want to spread it memetically. And yet it's been pretty well demonstrated that this style of thinking is actually harmful to people to who engage in it.
Even for many of the people who can't immediately carry out a strategy like that in the blog post - many of them could, with some time and preparatory action, get themselves into a position where it's possible. Consider someone who lacks skills, connections, and experience. They cannot reasonably expected to start a company right there and then. They can be expected to get a job, spend a few years getting experience and connections, move up a rung or two, then perhaps quit and go entrepreneurial. If that's out of the cards, they can likely study to move towards the point where getting a job in the target field is feasible.
Yes, there are people who are so downtrodden that they can't even take steps towards getting into a position where they can do better. And some people won't get all the rewards they deserve, in some moral sense. But the great majority of people can do something to improve their lot, even if it isn't exactly like what goes on in this blog post.
Even consider the author of the post - he didn't just start this business from college; his success here depended on the years of work he did before and the connections and experience he built from that.