The 0.00000001%

Today I bumped into this article from Medium: and I couldn't agree more:

I don’t like advice like “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Not because it isn’t true, but because it’s a monkey’s paw: it’s true under the right circumstances with the right people, and for everyone else, it’s just bad advice.

I don't think I tried hard enough or worked hard enough for the things I really wanted (for many reasons), but I did enough to feel frustrated every time I read about successful people (specially women in IT). Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in being successful doing what you like, or making money or sharing your success with the world by writing books or giving talks. These histories are always inspiring. But yet, it can be frustrating. Probably, depends on my mood (I am very 8 or 80 when comes to mood), depends on my day, but yes, nobody talks about probability when they write about how they were successful and when they try to sell that if you just do as they did, you will get the same results. Sorry, but no. That's not how life works.

What these books and talks and articles forget to tell is that these super successful people were the 0.0001% (I just made up this number, I just want to make my point clear) that had the perfect idea in the right place in the right time. The rest of the world can try, but they have 0.00001% of chance of success. You just need to remember of articles like: and

Over 90% of tech startups fail, but I never thought my baby, 99dresses, would be one of them.

You always hear about the college grad who slept in his car while building a product, worked out of a basement to save money, or secretly resided in the AOL office as testament to his determination. But you never hear about those who hustle just as hard, make similar outrageous sacrifices…and still fail.

And this is the same in real life. 90% of the people are going to fail in life (add here your definition of success and failure). Yes, maybe I am too naive and my standards for calling something that I did successful are too high and I am trying to compare myself with people that have nothing to do with me but still... don't expect to follow the steps of someone else and get the same results. These ideas only give good titles for self-help books.

I never forget what I read at the book "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior" by Leonard Mlodinow, I don't have it here to make a proper citation, but the book makes really clear and mathematically proved that events in our lives are much more random than we probably would like it to be, but still, (sometimes) what separates success from failure (again, place here your definition of success and failure) is how many times you tried. In my case, I think I give up too easily...

Talking about trying, being successful or failing, in my last blog post here, I talked about how much I failed in giving a talk, but then I didn't give up as I said I would, I tried to fix my flaws and so I did. Months after my "failing in public" I tried again to give a talk and turns out it went pretty well and without any calming medicine :)

The conclusion is: don't give advices like it is nothing. What worked for you, won't work with anyone else. Everyone is unique.
Histories can inspire people, they can teach something and maybe help to sell books, but that's all. We should have more books with titles like "How I failed in my business", "How to fail effectively", "I did it 10 times wrong until I go it right" and less stupid happy Facebook pictures (I do it too).

[and yes, this post is also a reminder for myself every time I fail or feel frustrated]