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.
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.
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
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.