Is Success Luck or Hard Work?

Is Success Luck or Hard Work?

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Huge thanks to Gene and Sam from Potato Jet for filming with me:

This video was inspired by and draws examples from the book “Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy” by Robert H. Frank

Special thanks to Patreon supporters (and to everyone who commented on an earlier version of this video):
Marc Forand, Robert Dickerson, Christian Stauffer, LoadTooSlow, Vincent, Lyvann Ferrusca, DALE HORNE, Alfred Wallace, Kevin Beavers, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Michael Krugman, Ron Neal, Donal Botkin

Animations by Iván Tello


  1. galiuro on September 6, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    By definition, luck happens when you don’t expect it. Plus, you don’t always know when it does.

  2. Daniel O'Hara on September 6, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    Me sat here with a birthday of 31st December for hockey….

  3. HectorH44 on September 6, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    This is a great video and explains a concept that everyone should know of

  4. Dargon Dude on September 6, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    "We see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature"
    -Issac Newton

  5. André Ravazzi on September 6, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    1:33 Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers

  6. Kilo Sierra on September 6, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    This video is a long version of "Fortune favours the well prepared."

  7. Bobsikus on September 6, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    well you have to realize that luck is always temporary in short-term, but might be important in long-term. Second, some part of the what you think is luck is actually your skill and hard work which helps you assume "next steps" of the situation .. but there is also important definition, what is "success", for some people it is working family, for some it is good job, for some it is helping others etc. best is to see success as all of that, but basically it means achieving your goals.. If you are let’s say after car accident, your biggest success might to walk again, even though everybody else does it daily.. I do realize that I had lot of luck in the past in several cases and that there is people that did not have it.. but you also has to kinda deserve your luck by the hard work, because ot that it is only useful to help people which at least tries to do their best, not everybody who just blames luck for everything..

  8. Sarthak Shrivastava on September 6, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    That was the wrong map for India bro!

  9. Inductor87 on September 6, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    Success is your ability to feel content and happy with your life as it is at present despite all external factors like peoples opinions. Having discipline and a controlled mind is individual success. If you are struggling to be successful it means you dont at present think of yourself as a success, which is what needs to change first.

  10. Bjarne Lykkegard on September 6, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    If you are lucky enough to be born with a rotten personality you can become a succesful politician.

  11. Agent К on September 6, 2020 at 10:48 pm

    It’s Dirk from Veristablium.

  12. Light on September 6, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    cool and all but are we just gonna ignore that this guy actually married a comment LMAO

  13. Michael Milan on September 6, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    Wait… did he just give a mathematical reason to be a liberal? Lol

  14. First Last on September 6, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    So this is why black people think they are entitled to reperations or free stuff that others earned

  15. narkatameister on September 6, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    I always felt lucky considering where I am now and how I got here.

  16. Darryl Moses on September 6, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    Can you play this video in front of Congress?

  17. Jerwin Ilagan on September 6, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    Efren Reyes, one of the greatest pool player of all time still think he’s lucky.

  18. GGR TheMostGodless on September 6, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    This video or something very similar should be watched by every "influencer" or internet guru or those guys that tell you how to become succe$$ful in life just like they did. It is as this video says, a useful delusion to believe that all it takes is your OWN effort, but if starting with the place you were born is already a matter of luck or chance, imagine all that follows.

    I have a small business, and I need more clients, so if I find one or two more as I search for them, Is that luck?? or my effort?? or perhaps the "luck" of having the internet?? saying is a combination of all that is somehow less true.

  19. Lachsnacken3000 on September 6, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    1:05 😀

  20. Juan Tokez on September 6, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    What a great video, Thanks

  21. Kouga on September 6, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Alright, amazing video. Now, how do we spread this paradoxical knowledge?

  22. learningscienceisfun on September 6, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    Such a cool guy! I was lucky enough to meet him in Florida at a STEM Expo a few years ago and he actually gave me his Snatoms kit. One day I’ll get a lucky break on my YouTube channel too. About to hit 10K. Thanks for another great vid!

  23. Airskii - Official on September 6, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    I remember when my Dad gave me a small loan of 1 million dollars and i used my skills and intelligence to turn that into a business. I should be president.

  24. Talking2Wall on September 6, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Well, I’m thankful for finding this video 🙂

  25. Mahdy Fouad on September 6, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    i’m not in control. i live in Egypt

  26. rdwmuzic on September 6, 2020 at 11:04 pm

    This is my favorite video of your channel. Love how you explained it.

  27. twicemamoo - army on September 6, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    All this video remind me of BTS’s success

  28. PRIME on September 6, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    It is definitely sometimes luck, and sometimes hard work. It really depends. Take for example a family that has an apartment somewhere on a coastline that is popular. They can rent it, earn a lot of money, save a few years, and accumulate quite a nice amount. But it also begs for patience, and hard work.

  29. Brandon Kirkwood on September 6, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    In my experience the harder you work the more luck you find.

  30. Anubhav Yadav on September 6, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    beautiful video

  31. Nice Dubs on September 6, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    The inverse of external factors for success is external factors of failure, which would contradict the external factors of success boas presented. Events link together, as do people. A famous poem by John Dinner, "No man is an island", features the lines "Every man is a part of the continent… Should a close be washed away by the seas, Europe is the less".

    By this wisdom, we know that when we do good, others benefit. It falls in line with interdependence ethics, which is the foundation of external factors for success.

    However, what is not covered in external factors is the matter of persistence. Where some try and fail, others persist.

    Case in point, it really comes down to persistence. Outside factors have greatly influenced the failures in my life, and outside factors have also greatly contributed to the successes in my life. If no external factors of success or failure existed, we would have all been born with success or failure, which isn’t the case. On the point of existing now where something before me left off, the reason we persist is to give our children a better position in life. Billions of people have walked this earth already, and we do not all begin in the same place.

    I don’t want the success of others, I want my children to have the success of me.

  32. Captain Dean on September 6, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Great content man.

  33. Рина Карнаух on September 6, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    Yeah, I found this channel through exactly that video on shadow weight 😂

  34. MonkeyMan on September 6, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    This has a lot to do with the caos theory imo, a single Little event can ignite a series of consequences that can lead to the failure or a success of a person

  35. Frederick Cunningham on September 6, 2020 at 11:15 pm

    You are not a lottery ticket. Good luck or bad luck, your actions have consequences. Success is when luck meets hard work and preparation.

  36. Shamim Reza on September 6, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    Are you going to be a muslim?

  37. Poncho Navarro on September 6, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    The science of privilege. Love this.

  38. Michał Rogalewicz on September 6, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    Derek, you are fun’tastic.

  39. Cthulhu Christ on September 6, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    People overvalue "hard work". Literally every war, genocide and human atrocity has been carried out by people who "work hard". Try-hards have more blood on their hands than all other groups of people combined.

  40. Eloy Toro on September 6, 2020 at 11:20 pm

    that simulation was so sketcky

  41. Henry Nera 4 on September 6, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    I do outdoors photography as a hobby and I can tell you that a lot of my best shots is being at the right place at the right time so any successful outdoors photographer that would come and say that they are successful because of their own efforts is full of BS.

  42. Bouke Versteegh on September 6, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    If you’re interested to try this simulation yourself, have a look below. I think my implementation matches the video, if not, please let me know.
    Source code:

    What becomes clear from running this simulation many times, is that ALL winners – consistently – had skills in the top 1%.
    In fact, the lowest skilled winner of 1000 simulated contests had 98.9 skill points of 100 (top 1.1%).

    The luck was more variable, but all winners tend to have at least 88 luck points out of 100.
    To win, you need to be in the top 12% of luckiness, which requires no effort, and be a top 1.1% performer, which is hard.

    In this simulation, skill is evenly probable, meaning its just as probable having a skill between 99-100 as is between 1-2.
    This is not realistic. Skill distributions are highly skewed, such that there are very few experts, and many beginners.

    You can update the simulation to make high skills less likely, by setting skill_skewedness to 2.

    I expected this would make the contest more Skill based, but surprisingly, the simulation actually showed the opposite.

    My interpretation:
    As it becomes harder and harder to improve skills at the top, other factors such as luck, which stay constant start to become more important.
    If you want to win, first reach the top 1%, and then acknowledge that the rest comes down to luck. Before that, work hard to get there.

  43. GGR TheMostGodless on September 6, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    The only one I know of that CONSTANTLY acknowledges these luck of birth, and has always done it, is Warren Buffett.

  44. Eratz Leretour on September 6, 2020 at 11:27 pm

    I find it scary how lots of youtubers/influencers found their other half on social media

  45. Audrey Pham on September 6, 2020 at 11:28 pm

    That CGP Grey shirt tho

  46. Martin Hallén on September 6, 2020 at 11:28 pm

    The lesson is also that since luck plays an important role you should try many more times than the others.

  47. The Smell of Burnt Almonds on September 6, 2020 at 11:29 pm

    If you want to be struck by lightning you go stand in a thunderstorm holding a lightning rod. It doesn’t mean you’ll be struck but the effort to succeed is based on optimizing chances to receive luck. So the answer is, it’s both.

  48. Alex May on September 6, 2020 at 11:31 pm


  49. Lightbearer Industries on September 6, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    Barberasi also says it’s networks

  50. Ron F on September 6, 2020 at 11:37 pm

    Great conversation… Scientifically philosophical. 👌

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