• Richard M. Rothman

What Do All Successful People Have in Common?

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

We all know of famous people who made the giant leap from rags to riches. For example, Dhirubhai Ambani started as a petrol pump attendant in Yemen. Yet he built the world’s largest oil refinery and India’s greatest fortune through Reliance Industries. How did this man from nowhere get his start? He did it by capturing a series of giant opportunities.

Abdul Lateef Jandali was born to an unwed mother and given up for adoption to a working class family. They had nothing to give him but a loving home and a new name: Steve Jobs. In college, Jobs was so broke that he collected Coke bottles for the deposit money, slept on sofas, and ate the free weekly meal at the local Hare Krishna temple.

How did he rocket himself to the stratosphere of success? He did it by capturing a series of enormous opportunities.How did he rocket himself to the stratosphere of success? He did it by capturing a series of enormous opportunities.

Sachin and Binny Binsal came from middle class families in Chandigarh. They were both set for regular jobs in the hi-tech sector. Together they began their journey in a garage in Bangalore by creating Flipkart in 2007. They were bought over by Walmart in 2018 for $16 billion.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw started her journey with a seed capital of only ₹ 10,000 by starting Biocon in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore. Forty years later, she is a billionaire. How did the Bansals and Kiran leap from being salaried workers to billionaire entrepreneurs? By capturing opportunities that others had ignored.

Are these individuals—and others like them—in some way special, somehow endowed with superpowers that you or I can never hope to have?

Of course not

They out started out just like you and me—with nothing but empty wallets and strong ambition. How is it that people with no money, no team and few resources can achieve such immense success?

It takes more than honesty and hard work to build wealth from nothing. It takes more than determination, desire, or even a dream to climb a ladder so high and so slippery with no support. It takes something far more valuable. It takes something far more powerful. It takes something that is available to everyone, from orphaned seven-year-olds eating one meal a day to college dropouts with a bag full of discarded Coke bottles in California.

It takes opportunity.

Opportunity is the universal starting point and the common essential factor in all business and career success. Opportunities are the seeds from which all wealth grows.

Regardless of where you are in life, whether you’re a businessperson, an employee earning wages, an aspiring entrepreneur, a student, or a professional, your ability to capture the best opportunities will be the most crucial factor that determines your success. Hard work, diligence, persistence and a positive attitude are all very useful if you want to succeed.

But they’re insufficient.

None of them will deliver success unless you also harness the power of opportunity.