The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck In Sales

Is it possible to create luck in life and in business? On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Dr. Christian Busch explains what luck is and how salespeople can generate more of it in their selling endeavors. Dr. Busch is the author of The Serendipity Mindset and one of the world’s leading experts on innovation, purpose-driven leadership, and cultivating serendipity. 

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Dr. Christian Busch
Author of The Serendipity Mindset

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation. My name is Will Barron, and I’m the founder of salesman.org, and welcome to Salesman Podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, I am chatting with Christian Busch. He is the author of Connect The Dots: The Art and the Science of Creating Luck. And the paperback of the book has just launched today, so grab a copy from Amazon, wherever you get your books, if you enjoy this podcast episode.

 

Will Barron:

Dr. Christian Busch is an expert in the areas of innovation, purpose-driven leadership, and serendipity. He’s the director of CGA Global Economic Programme over at New York University, and he teaches at the London School of Economics. On today’s episode, Christian and I are going to be discussing if it’s possible, if it’s measurable, if it’s possible, to create luck in sales and in business, and how you go about doing it. So Dr. Christian, welcome to the Salesman Podcast.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Thanks so much for having me.

 

What is Luck? · [01:03] 

 

Will Barron:

I’m glad to have you on, mate. Okay, so let’s just get down to the basics of all this before we dive into… Because this topic, obviously there’s going to be tonnes of rabbit holes. There’s going to be tonnes that we could jump into, right? Does this luck concept, we all know we’ve all experienced it, does it have an agreed-upon definition? How do we define what luck actually is?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Yeah. It’s interesting because when looking into that area, what I found fascinating is that usually when we think about luck, we think about that blind luck that just have it’s to us, right? Some kind of fortuitous, coincidental, beautiful moment that somehow benefits us. Being born into a good family, things like that. But actually, where it gets really exciting is when we talk about smart luck, when we talk about serendipity that we create based on our own actions.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so, take the quintessential moments, if you have erratic hand movements like I do, you spill a lot of coffee. And so imagine you spill coffee in a coffee, shop over someone, and that person looks at you slightly upset, but you sense, there might be something there. You don’t know what it is, you just sense there might be something there. And now you have two options, right? Option number one is you just say, “I’m so sorry, here’s a napkin.” You walk outside and you think, “Ah, what could have happened had I spoken with that person?”

 

“When we look at serendipity, this kind of smart luck, across different contexts, love, business, you name it, there’s always the same pattern. It’s always the same that there’s this aspect of randomness, some kind of unexpected moment, but then it’s about us to do something with it, to connect the dots and turn that into positive outcomes.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [02:19] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And option number two, you start a conversation, that person becomes your, co-founder, your supplier, the love of your life, you name it. And so it’s our reaction to the unexpected. It’s making the accident meaningful that turns it into smart luck. And so when we looked at serendipity, this kind of smart luck, across different contexts, love, business, you name it, there’s always the same pattern. It’s always the same that there’s this aspect of randomness, some kind of unexpected moment, but then it’s about us to do something with it, to connect the dots and turn that into positive outcomes.

 

Serendipity: The Process of Spotting and Connecting Random Dots · [02:43]

 

Will Barron:

So I’ve just kiboshed all the questions I had in front of me straight away. Is a good feeling measurable, that feeling when you know someone’s looking at you or you think that there’s an opportunity here? We’ll dive into whether you grasp that opportunity or not and how we create around look in a second, perhaps. But what is that gut feeling that we label as a gut feeling, but is there a more clinical definition or has it been researched as to what it actually is?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

That’s a really interesting question because a lot of times when we trace serendipity and look at it as a process of spotting and connecting dots, intuition plays a huge role. So that sense of, “Oh, there might be something there.” And that’s essentially trying to figure out what is the potentiality in that moment. And so the way we’ve been studying serendipity, and the way serendipity has been studied more broadly is really in three ways.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

One is to say, what’s the counterfactual? So what could have happened if I put two people into exactly the same position, into exactly the same situation that is unexpected and one does something with it and the other one doesn’t, then we see the decision point. The same is with when we think about a lot of my work is qualitative methods. So we go into, for example, a business incubator and we look at what entrepreneurs over time do with a conversation we had, how does that unfold and then what happens with that? Does that turn into a particular product? So we’re trying to understand it over time.

 

Telltale Signs That You Might Be a Lucky Person · [04:05] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

But I think where it gets really interesting, and to your point, where a lot of times actually it’s not necessarily just that gut feeling, which can be important, but a lot of times it’s mostly also about what’s the way we look at the world? How do we frame the world? And there’s an amazing experiment, actually, one of my favourites. And it’s been replicated in different types of context where they ask people, “Do you consider yourself to be lucky?” And every listener, if you think about it, do you consider yourself to be lucky?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And then they pick one of each, one person who says they consider themselves to be very lucky, “So good things tend to happen to me, yada, yada.” And one person who considered themselves to be very unlucky, so, “I’m always in accidents, bad things happen to me.” And I guess we all know people on both sides of that continuum.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so they tell those two people, “Walk down the street, go into a coffee shop, sit down, have the coffee, and then we’ll have our conversation later on.” What they don’t tell them is that is five pound notes, there’s money in front of the coffee shop door. And inside the coffee shop, there’s only one seat left, next to this extremely successful business man who can make big dreams happen.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Now the lucky person walks down the street, sees the five pound note, picks it up, goes inside the shop, orders the coffee. Sits down, has a conversation with the businessman, the exchange business cards, potential opportunity coming out of it, we don’t know that part. Now the other person, the unlucky person walks down the street, steps over the five pound note so doesn’t see it. Goes inside the shop, orders a coffee, sits next to the businessman, ignores the businessman. That’s it.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Now at the end of the day, they ask both people, how was your day today? And so the lucky person says, “It was amazing. I found money in the street, made a new friend and you potentially an opportunity coming out of it.” The unlucky person just says, “Well, nothing really happened.” And that really tells us about the power of perception and the power of alertness. For example, it’s fascinating how much money people drop in the street but most of the time we don’t see it because we don’t expect it to be there.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And I think that’s what it mostly bones down to, that in this world that’s so uncertain, we still underestimate how likely the unexpected is all the time. And we still think we can plan things out, but actually it happens everywhere and we miss it all the time.

 

The Difference Between an Optimist and a Lucky Person · [06:15] 

 

Will Barron:

What’s the difference then, that might be a good scenario to build this conversation on top of, what’s the difference between a optimist and someone who is lucky?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

It’s a really interesting question because if you think about it like a couple of Venn diagrams, similar to intuition, it’s always good to have a good intuition and a mature gut feeling rather than a naive gut feeling, right? So something that actually helps me with making decisions. So that’s one Venn diagram. Another one is optimism, as when you can imagine different scenarios and the potentiality of a scenario, it makes it more likely that you can actually then also act on it.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

But again, it doesn’t have to be the way. I for example, my amazing wife, she is the most amazing person in the world. I know everyone would say that about their wife, but in my case it’s actually true. And she’s the kind of person, she can be quite not so positive about the world, but still she’s always connecting dots and she’s always making stuff happen and turning kind of lucky serendipitous moments out of it.

 

“If you start as a realist, you end up as a depressionist because the world will pull you down. So you have to start slightly optimistic to then become the optimistic realist. Be the kind of person who has a slight optimism, but you’re also extremely realistic about what’s possible and what’s not.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [07:43] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so it’s in that way where again, optimism can be something that helps us to make more of it happen, but it’s not a necessary condition all the time. And I’ve been a big fan, a lot of my life has been shaped by Victor Frankl. And I’ve always been fascinated by he wrote this amazing book, A Man’s Search for Meaning, and his key point always was, “Look, if you start as realist, you end up as a depressionist because the world will pull you down. So you have to start slightly optimistic to then become the realist, the optimistic realist.”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so I’ve seen that with a lot of the executives we work with, that they are the kind of people who have a slight optimism, but they’re also extremely realistic about what’s possible and what is.

 

The Primary Reason You’re Missing Out on Luck · [08:04] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there anything else that goes in this Venn diagram? Because it seems like, and tell me if I’m completely off on this because I could be, but it seems like almost extraversion or confidence could fit into it as well. Because maybe you see the five pound note, maybe you go, “This is an opportunity and I could take it.” And you have the intuition that it’s there for the taking, but if you are… And I’m painting in broad strokes here, but if you are introverted, you might be or less confident, you might be more bothered about if anyone sees you pick it up they might come and complain, they might say that you’ve stolen.

 

Will Barron:

It seems like there’s other barriers to you activating on the luck that’s been put in front of you, not just the fact that you’ve recognised it. Is there something along those lines? Is there any other elements to this Venn diagram that we should be adding to it?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Absolutely. And if we focus on three that I think are extremely important, one, it’s interesting, extraversion. There’s a lot of hope for closet introverts like myself in terms of that a lot of serendipity actually comes from quiet and calm sources. So watching a movie and then thinking, “Oh my God, people haven’t talked about this. That could be a podcast.”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Or taking this one other street to work in the morning and then keeping our eyes open and realising, “In that bookstore, that book, that title, couldn’t that be a podcast? Oh my God, serendipitously I came up with a podcast idea.” And so it’s a lot of times serendipity can come from these quiet sources or extroverts need introverts to compliment them a little bit to make sense out of all the serendipity and help them filter it.

 

“When it comes to serendipity and luck, it does help to be an extrovert because you essentially have more conversations with people. So the opportunity space for potential serendipity increases because of the interactions you can have.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [09:38] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

So I think the first piece is really to your point, it does help to be an extrovert because you essentially have more conversations. So the opportunity space for potential serendipity increases because of the interactions you can have and so on. And we can talk more about this, especially the hook strategy I think, where we can do a lot in that direction, even as introvert.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

But also I think you made a really interesting point about what are the self-limiting beliefs we have? What are the constraints we have that hold us back from acting on something? And I think to me, the quintessential example is you are at a conference, this amazing speaker speaks. You have an amazing idea of what you could do together, but then you don’t go to the speaker because you feel like, “I’m not worthy. I’m not ready. I’m not…” You name it.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Same in the coffee shop, right? When you think, “Oh my God, this could be a person I could fall in love with.” But you don’t act on it because you have fear of rejection or you name it, right? And I think a lot of us have this inner imposter somewhere in there, lurking around and saying, “Oh, maybe you’re not… It’s not the right time for that.” And one thing I found really useful in that bracket of overcoming self-limiting beliefs and being able to act on the unexpected is really to think about, what’s the worst thing that can happen here?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And I always thought the worst thing that can happen is rejection, right? The worst thing that could happen is that speaker says, “No, I don’t have time for you.” Or that person at the coffee shop says, “No, I really don’t want to talk with you.” But then I realised the worst thing is not that, the worst thing is that actually walking outside and thinking, “Ah, what could have happened?” Because that’s the nagging feeling that doesn’t stop. And that consumes your energy and that goes on and on and on. And by that reframing, I felt like, to me, that made a big difference.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And then the third aspect really, and I think that’s what I’m really excited about. So now we talked about the aspect of personality traits. We talked about the aspect of what’s the self-limiting beliefs. And then the third aspect is really what are the daily practises that we can use to really have more of this happen? And we can build a muscle for that.

 

How to Have Better Conversations Using The Hook Strategy · [11:33]

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so to give you one example is that hook strategy that I’m a big fan of. And the idea really is to say every time that dreaded what do you do question, for example, do you just answer, “I’m an entrepreneur, I’m this and this.” Or do you cast a couple of hooks where other people could say, “Let me correct the dots. Oh my God, such a coincidence.”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Give you example, Oli Barrett, an amazing entrepreneur in London, if you would ask him the, what do you do question, he would not just say “I’m an entrepreneur.” He would say something like “I’m a technology entrepreneur, recently started reading into the philosophy of science. But what I’m really excited about is playing the piano.” And so what he’s doing here is he’s giving you three potential hooks where you could be like, “Oh my God, such a coincidence. My sister’s teaching on the philosophy of science, you should give a guest lecture. Oh my God, such a coincidence we’ve been hosting piano matinees, you should stop by.”

 

“The hook strategy is all about how we use every interaction, every conversation to cast a couple of interests and hooks in a side sentence, and then let the person pick up whatever they’re most excited about.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [12:36] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And I think, especially in sales, that’s obviously where a lot of sales come from, right? These unexpected, “Hey, let me just tell you one more thing we just started doing…” Just to put it out there and then see what happens. And then that client might say, “Oh my God, such a coincidence. My sister just started a shop where they need exactly that kind of thing.” And so I think to me, the hook strategy is all about saying, how do we use every interaction, every conversation to cast a couple of interests and hooks in a side sentence, and then let the person pick up whatever they’re most excited about.

 

Here’s How You Can Improve Your Ability to Connect the Dots and Experience More Luck · [13:03] 

 

Will Barron:

This is quite a broad question, but is this a skill that we can develop? So you just gave us one direct strategy there that we all literally can use this. I’ll have a ponder about this, how I can use this, after this episode wraps up, Christian. But is developing serendipity… I guess connecting the dots seems more logical, as I say, is the ability to connect the dots a skill that we can build proactively? Or is this something that comes with experience of being in sales for 20 years, being in the same industry for five and having gone to networking events for the past three and shook a load of hands? Is it something that we can proactively develop or is it something that comes with time in the game?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Yeah. Well, it’s interesting, right? Because when you think about something like previous experience for example, it can help us connect the dots because we might see the unexpected anomaly in something that shouldn’t be there. And by that, identify what’s new here. But also it can give us that functional fixedness, right? The hammer nail problem, that we’re so used to using the hammer when we need the nail in the wall, that we are always looking for a hammer rather than any heavy object that would help us to get it into the wall.

 

“Building that serendipity mindset is like building muscle. You can train a mindset and you can upskill yourself in terms of mindset.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [14:12] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so, experience can be good or bad. But no matter what experience we have, we can always build that muscle. And I think that’s why I’m so excited about the idea of building that serendipity mindset. Because it’s really about saying, like a muscle, you can train a mindset. You can upskill yourself in terms of mindset. And to give you maybe two examples, one example that I’m a big fan of is to do a serendipity journal where you really write down, “Okay, in the past, whenever I had serendipity happen…”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

So maybe how I unexpectedly met the love of my life and then actually did something with it but it’s not enough to just run into them. You got to go on date and make it happen. Or how I got a client lead unexpectedly at a conference where it was about something completely different and I was there for pleasure, but actually it still came to that.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Whenever I had those kind of serendipitous moments in my life, these unexpected positive outcomes, what is the pattern behind this? What did I do that made that happen? And how can I do more of that? Is there a particular thing I do or a particular sentence I use? Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. But then also more importantly, the opposite. Whenever serendipity could have happened but it didn’t. When I was in that meeting, I had that brilliant, unexpected idea, but I didn’t raise it. Why? When I wasn’t the coffee shop, I didn’t talk with that person. Why? And really working then on the underlying question, what is holding me back to act on the unexpected? And that’s how we can remove these barriers.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And then third really, we talked about these concrete practises. And what I found really interesting, a couple of years ago I used to live in London and a colleague of mine, a very decorated, highly decorated professor. I started with this work and I told him about it and he was like, “Look, Christian, I love you, I love your work. But I don’t need more serendipity my life. I have everything. I have a great family, I have a great job. What else do I need?”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And we made a deal. And we said, “You know what? Just do a couple of small things like ask one different question. Instead of asking people, what do you do? Ask them, what do you enjoy doing?” And small tweaks. “What’s interested you about this presentation when you watch it?” Whatever, something that really went deeper into what the motivations of a person are and what makes them tick. And then essentially when you’re doing this, what happens is you start getting more and more excited about it.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so after a month, he comes back and he’s like, “Christian, I didn’t know life can be so joyful.” And so the point here is, we don’t know what we don’t know, right? And so what I’m excited about in this work is to really say there’s particular small practise we can all do. And once we start doing a few of them, for example, in every conversation, thinking about, can I connect, Will, now to one person? Can I connect them to one idea what they told me about?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

When we train ourselves to constantly think about connecting dots, actually our brain literally self frames itself towards it. And so I think that’s the beautiful thing about neuroplasticity, where we can frame both our brain in the kind of neuro sense, but also then psychology-wise, we can actually work on our behaviours and what comes of it. And so that’s, I think, at the core of this, to say then we identify those different types of dots.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And Will, as last point, then you go to a fisher village in Italy and you meet that fisher woman where you thought you had nothing in common with, but now because you don’t ask her, “What do you do?” And she says, “Well, I’m a fisherwoman.” And you’re like, “Well, we have nothing in common.” You ask her, “Well, what is it about the fishing that you enjoy doing?” And then she might say, “Well, I enjoy the endlessness of the sea and that it gives me X, Y, Z, and it feels like an endless transition.” And then I would be like, “Oh my God, this is exactly how I feel about when I’m writing an academic paper.” You name it.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

So we identify those overlaps once we start to go deeper with a person, rather than assuming they’re just their position or their job title.

 

The Reticular Activating System and Pattern Recognition · [17:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Are you familiar with this term, because I’ve not heard this term used in an academic sense so I don’t know if this is complete nonsense or not. But I’ve read it in plenty of books, I think it’s called it the reticular activating system?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Interesting. Mm-hmm (affirmative). What made you think about it?

 

Will Barron:

Because it seems like a lot of what we’re talking about here is pattern recognition.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), exactly.

 

Will Barron:

And it’d be perhaps interesting, can you tell us what the reticular activating system is and then how perhaps some of that ties into how pattern recognition ties into some of this?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Yeah. Well what’s interesting, because I’m obviously not a in a deeper brain or other sciences, but what I am very excited and interested in is exactly the question of we all somehow when we’re growing up and we all somehow when we the world get used to particular patterns and ideas of the world and we are navigating those. And then the question becomes, how do we unlearn some of that?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

So if I am used to something, that’s the hammer nail problem thing for example. When I have a certain idea of how I go about things and how I learn things, it’s very hard to unlearn this. But when you look at, I’m extremely excited for example about Sub-Saharan Africa, where a lot of our work is. Because a lot of times when you are in a context where you have extreme resource constraints, you don’t have to unlearn.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

If you don’t have an ATM machine in your local village, you don’t have to think about how do I innovate that kind of ATM machine? You think about how do I get my money from my friends, to the friend in the other village? And that’s how unexpectedly or expectedly something like mobile banking comes about because you don’t have to think in that box you’re in. But you’re actually thinking, “Okay, we’re solving a particular problem here.”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And I think a lot of companies actually are trying to do that. If you look at a company like Phillips, they used to be organised in departments. So you would have something like a tomography department. But by predefining the solution tomography, you’re only innovating within that space now, right? You’re thinking about what can I make better as a tomography machine? Versus if you step back and say, well this is all about precision diagnosis. Tomography might be one way, but there might be 20 other ways of how to do precision diagnosis.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so, if you rename the department into precision diagnosis, you give people the licence to also come up with other things. And that’s the same, obviously, in our own lives and how we think about how we define problems. Do we over define the problems so to then kind of limit the potentiality for people? Or do we broaden it up and allow people to connect the dots broader as well?

 

Will Barron:

For sure. And we see this in sales, just to drag the conversation back to that for a second, all the time, of the problem is how do we get in front of qualified customers and explain what we do and how we can help them? And sales people have the boxes of, I call them, I email them and then, pre-COVID, maybe I knock on a door or see these people at a conference as well.

 

Will Barron:

And so we’re all stuck in these different boxes of there’s probably 300 to 500 million salespeople on the planet, all trying to email the same executives in the same five, 600 companies. And they’re all trying to do the same job, skin the cats in a slightly different way, to break through. But what I like about this is that perhaps if we remove that box, and obviously it’s one thing to say it’s another thing to do it, clearly. But if you can make that happen, you…

 

Will Barron:

Or let me rephrase that, there’s potentially other angles, there’s other dots that are there in front of us that we just haven’t seen. And if we can see them, we’ll have opportunities that other people won’t have. We’ll have that competitive advantage. So is there anything else? Because I want to turn this conversation on it’s head slightly in a second, Christian.

 

Learning to Unlearn: The Most Effective Path to Serendipity · [21:21] 

 

Will Barron:

But is there anything else for a salesperson who’s listening to this conversation, Christian, that banging the head against the wall, they’re just go email after email, they’re not getting through to anyone, they’ve tried cold calling. They’ve tried all these things that we talk about in the show all the time, we talk about it in sales books, podcasts, videos, YouTube videos, and nothing’s working. Is there anything that they can do to try and pull back, unlearn some of the things that they’ve learnt perhaps about how sales should be done, then innovate and find other dots that could be connected?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Yeah. Well, that’s a great question because I think in general, and I can’t speak for the hundreds of millions of salespeople who obviously listen to this show. But in general, a lot of the people I work with and a lot of the people who we study, I think what happens a lot of times is that they very much underestimate their own, quote unquote, warm social capital. So they might focus on cold calling, cold emailing, whatever it is. And we all know how ineffective, that’s the numbers game, right? That’s kind of all about having a huge pot of numbers and then hoping that one of them goes through.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Versus I think we completely underestimate our own social capital in the sense of, let’s say I live somewhere in South London and I have 10 people I interact a lot with. One is the shopkeeper downstairs. One is the kind of local priest or rabbi or imam. And one is the my sales partners. We might underestimate how much that local shopkeeper for example, they might confidentially be the brother of the CEO of [inaudible 00:23:02]. Or the priest might have gone to school with X, Y, Z person.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

The point is we will never know that latent social capital, if we don’t cast these hooks where we essentially in every conversation bring in those things that actually we would like to somehow, in a way, sell. So to give you one example, at the moment, one of my key purposes in life is to say, “I’ve seen this mindset work and I’ve seen it work across contexts around the world. So I want to take into any curriculum and company and training programme that I can.”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so wherever I go, being it with a shopkeeper, in a local supermarket or whatever it is, I would somehow try to seed that in. And I would be like, “Oh, thank you so much. No, this is really exciting because after writing a book, you can see how this is and da, da, da. And now it’s all about how we get this.” I’d bring that into a side sentence. And the amount of times from the most unexpected of people, again, the local shopkeeper type people, would be like, “Oh my God, I watched something on TV yesterday. Have you like seen that this thing could be perfect for you?” Or, “Oh my God, my sister is actually running a local school. You should come by.”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so the point really is I think leveraging our latent social capital, even our uncle, our sister, where we don’t assume that they might know someone. But just casting a couple of hooks I think leads us to many more warm introductions as well.

 

How to Leverage the Social Capital of Other People · [24:24] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there any technology that can help us with this? Because it seems like for the average Joe, who’s going around, plodding around the shop. Obviously I’m not being derogatory toward shopkeepers here, but they’re in a specific place all day, right? They are speaking to customers. Most of the traffic into the shop is going to be foot traffic going by. Maybe in hindsight, this conversation, they can influence the luck of a big spender coming into the store and buying a load of food.

 

Will Barron:

But for sales people, they proactively are calling, emailing. They’re proactively doing this outreach. So it seems like they might be slightly more in control of their own destiny than someone like a shopkeeper. Not the greatest example, but I’m sticking with it, Christian. Is there any way that we can use technology to, at minimum, track some of this and at best speed it up, leverage it, and multiply the effects of it?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Yeah. Well, I’m a huge fan of trying to leverage the social capital of others. What do I mean with this? And that works both offline and online. It’s the idea let’s say, I don’t know, it’s an online event, right? Virtual event where you have this amazing speaker speaking and then there will be a Q and A session at the end. Now that’s not your audience, that’s their audience. But if you’re the person who, in a very proactive way, asks a couple of questions in the Q and A so that nobody can ignore you, in a non [inaudible 00:25:45] way, but really asking a lot of the good questions. And then you are the one who is asked in the end to, “Hey, why don’t you ask your question?”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And again, same in a physical setting, right? When you’re in a room of 500 people, you’re the first one asking the question. And then the way you ask the question is making it all about the speaker, “Thank you so very much for this great presentation, blah, blah, blah. As someone who is looking a lot into X, Y, Z thing…” So that’s where the hook is being asked. So that can be any kind of hook that wants to be put. “I wanted to ask you the question of X, Y, Z, X, Y, Z.”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

What’s fascinating here is that it’s always nice to connect with the speaker, but what’s mostly important is, in an audience of 500 people, there’s always two or three people who will come afterwards and say, “Oh my God, such a coincidence. We were just looking into like such a solution. Can you help me out?” And the point here is, that’s really about saying, “How do I leverage the social capital of other people if I don’t have it?”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

In a really smart, unobtrusive, unannoying way. It’s not about pitching something. The moment you would pitch something at people, they would say, “Oh my God, let’s get that person out of here.” But if you frame it around, making it all about the other person and then building in that small hook, it’s amazing how often people latch on that and do something with. And I think technology in a way makes that scalable. Technology from our living room, we can dive into those different types of conversations in a non-pitchy way.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

But also second, I’m a big fan of this idea of Zoom and WebEx and so on being our own personal, private plane. When you think about it, when we are speaking now, when I think about my selling is mostly around content, right? I’m selling ideas. And so when I’m selling ideas, usually I have to fly to Tokyo to give a speech, and then I have to fly back. And that costs me one-and-a-half days, right? To go through customs and everything else. Now within 30 minutes, I’m there and that’s okay and so on.

 

“Technology is just a tool. And I think with any given tool, it’s the way we interact with people. Do we interact with them in a way that’s truly meaningful and cast hooks that they want to pick up? Or do we just push something on them, which rarely works.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [27:47] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

So to me, it’s the scalability of any platform. And so that’s to me less about… To me, technology is just a tool, right? But it’s about what do we do with any given tool? And I think with any given tool, it’s the way we interact with people. Do we interact with them in a way that’s truly meaningful and cast hooks that they want to pick up? Or do we just push something on them? Which rarely works.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. You touched on tonnes of points here. I literally preach to the audience, Christian. So, 30,000 plus people will download this episode of the podcast on audio, who knows on the video side of things? We’ve got some episodes that have 1000 views, some that have got like 700,000 views, certain interviews now. I get the majority of the business that I sell over at salesman.org, which is the enterprise sales training that we do with our training product, which is tying into even more what you’re saying of it’s an online product with backed-up one-on-one training via Zoom.

 

Will Barron:

And if I was doing this in person, well, I’d need a team of 50 people. I’d need 50 Wills and I don’t think the world wants or needs that, right? It’d be carnage. The scale that we operate at for such a small team just couldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the fact of Zoom and the scale of the podcast. And the fact that this year, we’ll be up to, in 2022, we’ll have interviewed over 1000 people, 1000 experts like yourself in business and psychology. And I’ve had F1 drivers on here. We’ve had astronauts on here.

 

Structural Advantage and the Science of Good Luck · [29:20] 

 

Will Barron:

There’s no way I’d get access to any of these people. Well, they’d see me coming a mile away and be running away before the interview even started if we were doing this in-person. But that scale is unprecedented. So let me ask you this, and I’ve got one final question that we’ll wrap up the show with, is there a first move advantage to connecting the dots, to building luck, to becoming what seemingly is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy with some of this? Is there a first move advantage in leveraging this now before all the Zoom calls, all the content of your book, this idea of luck, the science behind connecting the dots becomes more and more mainstream, which it clearly will do over time?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

It’s really interesting because it makes me think of two things. And it’s one of those questions, in my mind it went into 20 different directions, but I’ll pick two of them. And then the rest we’ll discuss over a nice beer, I assume. But so the first is really around when we talk about advantage. To me, it’s important to think about that obviously it’s a lot about structural advantage, a lot of times you’ll certainty be base level, right?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

So when I look at an entrepreneur somewhere in Kenya, the starting level in terms of potential certainly is very different from someone like me who can set up businesses because I have good networks and things like that. And everything scales much quicker. And so the base level we’re starting from is very different. But then in any context, the point is that we can do something. And I’ve seen that in different context work out.

 

“There’s so much adjacent possibility that at any given point there’s something possible, but it’s lost potential by us not having thought of it.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [30:53] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And so the mindset has to go hand-in-hand with working on structural constraints, working with governments and others on also making sure that other people, the social inequalities is being reduced. I think that’s an important point. But to your point, the way I really look at it is that there’s so much adjacent possibility that at any given point, there’s something possible because of the potentiality of us not having thought of it.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Because if you think about it, let me give you an example. I’m a big fan of the potato washing machine. And the potato washing machine is essentially a couple of years ago, a company, they produce refrigerators and washing machine and they receive calls from farmers. And the farmers told them, “Your crappy washing machine is always breaking down.” “Well, why is the washing machine breaking down?”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

“Well, we’re trying to wash our potatoes in it, and it doesn’t seem to work.” And so what would we usually do? We would probably try to educate the customer. We’ll probably say, “Well, that’s a washing machine. Don’t wash your potatoes in it. It’s not made for that. Our marketing plan says that we are selling those machines for clothes.” Now they did the opposite, they said, “That is unexpected, but there’s probably a lot of farmers in the world who might have a problem in that department too. So why don’t we build in a dirt filter and make it a potato washing machine?”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Why am I telling you this? Because at the end of the day, there’s unlimited potential for how we think about innovation and inventions offline and online. And I think it’s great that we can now do that in a scalable way to your point via technology. But I think we can do it in any moment, in any meeting, at any interaction. And that’s why I’m so excited about that. I think you can at any point in your particular field, be a first mover in thinking about what is the adjacent possible here that we can do around? And then cast those hooks to make it happen.

 

How to Spot Bad Luck and Stop it Before it Actually Happens · [32:21] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Okay. This is the final question for you, Christian. And this might be a whole different podcast episode or a whole conversation, eight pints in, three shots, and a sambuca in a pub in London. Is the inverse of everything that we discussed true in that, every now and again, we’re all going to be struck with bad luck, a bad serendipity, dots that have connected that we don’t want to be connected? Is it possible to inverse everything that we talked about and perhaps see the dots ahead of time and avoid them, does it work that way around as well?

 

“Bad luck happens to everyone. I think that’s just what it is, and that’s unfortunately how life is. And so I think being too afraid of the bad luck that could happen will hold you back.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [32:58] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

I think it’s a great question. It makes me think of two things. So one, bad luck happens to everyone. I think that’s just what it is. And that’s unfortunately how life is, right? That we all have bad luck happen. We all will be disappointed by some people where we put a lot of hope in it and so on. And so I think that’s a given, that will happen. And there’s probably not that many ways around it. I’m always a big fan, similar to love, if you don’t embrace it and if you’re trying to be too scared of it, it will never really happen. And so I think being too afraid of the bad luck that could happen will hold us back. So I think that’s just a part of life.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

But I think the second part is to me the important one, serendipity for one might not necessarily be serendipity for someone else. So if you take someone, if you have a dictator of a country who has a lost serendipity happen, but that doesn’t necessarily benefit their people, right? It might be the opposite.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

One of my favourite examples is this retired person driving in a car and the last pleasure of their life was smoking a little bit of weed. And so they had a bit of weed in their car. A police man had an unexpected hunch of stopping that car, stops the car, unexpectedly finds the mariajuana, which was a bigger stash than expected. Great for the policeman, becoming policeman of the month for like unexpectedly identifying [inaudible 00:34:11] thing. For the retired person, of course that’s really the worst thing that could have happened to them. And so I think what happens here a lot of times is that serendipity for some person might be the opposite for the other.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And then third to your points, serendipity a lot of times, because it’s a process, can turn into good or bad. And vice versa, the inflexion point for serendipity a lot of times start is crises. And I think that’s to me the really interesting thing also, that when you think about where a lot of serendipity comes from, it comes out of crises. Think about how you could only meet the love of your life today.

 

The Mindset We All Need During Crisis · [34:46]

 

Will Barron:

Sorry to interrupt you, Christian. That that’s a mindset though, right? You see it that perspective. But if you didn’t have what we talked about so far on the show, and you didn’t have the mindset to look for the opportunity in the crisis, if you were a pessimist, if you took no action on it, if you’ve got regrets on not acting upon it, you’re not going to have what you’ve just described. Which is taking something negative and turning it positive, which I guess the whole point of the show, right?

 

“In every moment, every crisis, we have the question, does this crisis and this situation define me, or do I define that situation? So, wherever you are, whatever situation you are, there’s always something in there.” – Dr. Christian Busch · [35:13] 

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

That’s exactly it. I think every moment, every crisis, we have the question, does this crisis and that situation define me, or do I define that situation? And I think that is the power. Victor Frankl always said it beautifully, “We can’t always pick the situation we’re in, but we can always pick our response to it.” He didn’t never say that, but that is his spirit. I think he was misquoted a couple of times about it. But his key idea behind it was to say, wherever you are, whatever situation you are, there’s always something in there.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Sometimes there might be no intrinsic meaning. He was in a concentration camp, which is the toughest of situations I can imagine. And he wondered, “How can I still build meaning into that situation?” And so one thing he did, for example, was he said, “This is a situation in that intrinsically doesn’t have any meaning so I will create one. So I know that I might die here. I know that there’s nothing here that I can objectively do, but I can every day speak with a fellow prisoner and make them feel better about themselves. And now I have a meaning to wake up in the morning.”

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

And by doing this, now he can look back on the time and say, “I made something meaningful with whatever situation I was dealt with.” And I think any situation I’ve had in my life where something really interesting happened, a lot of times came out of crisis, out of a heavy breakup as an inflexion point. And then yes, if you in the heavy breakup say, “Oh my God, my life is over.” Then life is over because nobody will just hand it to you.

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

But if you go through and say, “Look, maybe there’s someone even better out there.” And that’s easier set than down, right? There’s a lot of emotional components to it. I had COVID last year in a very severe way, those kind of situations you just feel, “Wow, life is over.” But then actually I think it’s that reframing that can help us a lot. It’s sometimes easier than other times. And I think, again, we never blame anyone for blind luck, and we can never blame anyone for the situation then because we don’t know all the aspects around it.

 

Will Barron:

Love it. We’ll wrap up with that, Christian. I love the way that this show started numbers, quantifying these techniques. I’m not religious, not spiritual in the slightest about anything. But there’s almost a spiritual element to this, beyond a self-help book, Tony Robbins-esque element to this as well of it’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy of what you look for, you’re more likely to find. And then of course you’re more likely to act on as well. I think that’s really serendipitous for the audience and I think there’s a tonne of value there for them in this episode. So I appreciate that, Christian.

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:46] 

 

Will Barron:

With that, mate, tell us more about the book, tell us what we can find it? And tell us what we can find more about you as well, sir?

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Yes, absolutely. And likewise, I really enjoyed that, to go on those different levels. Because I grew up in Heidelberg were Goethe and [inaudible 00:37:57] wrote a lot of their poems. And a lot of what they wrote about was about that idea of potentiality. Goethe would write about if you take someone as they could be, you make them capable of becoming who they can be. And that’s always been exciting to me to say, is there something more in a situation than there is? And then that’s how… It’s not only a former drug dealer who’s in front of you, but a potential teacher. It’s not only a former [inaudible 00:38:19], but…

 

Dr. Christian Busch:

Once you see the potentiality in a moment, it’s almost like, in a very non-spiritual spiritual way actually about the betterment of society. And I think we can apply that to a lot of different areas as well. The book itself kind, it’s everywhere where books are sold. It’s called Connect the Dots, Penguin is publishing it. And yeah, it’s on Amazon, local bookstores. And on Twitter, I’m @ChrisSerendip.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff, well I’ll link to that book and everything else we’ve talked about in this episode over at salesman.org. Christian, I want to thank you for your time, mate. We said this before we clicked record, I love doing these episodes. There’s a tonne of vibe for the audience. I get more enjoyment myself from having these conversations than I do the usual cold calling, emailing, social selling side of things. So I appreciate you coming on the show. I appreciate you sharing your insights. And thanks again for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

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