Lucky Biz Break
26 Jan, 2012
Five successful Latinos talk about the role of luck in their careers.
Great leaders aren’t luckier than the rest of us. They just get a higher return on luck. That’s a central argument of “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All,” by business guru Jim Collins and management professor Morton T. Hansen.
To test the theory, Latin Business Today asked five ultra-successful Latino entrepreneurs about the role that luck played in shaping their careers. They spoke about chance encounters, the beast in every small business owner’s living room, and how to increase the odds that good fortune will come your way.
Betty Porto is a co-owner of Porto’s, a chain of Cuban bakeries in L.A.:
“Our biggest piece of luck was getting out of Cuba just before the Freedom Flights came to an end. In 1975, my mother Rosa decided she needed to rent a professional kitchen to move her growing baking business out of our house, but no one would give her a loan. One day, she met a man from her home town of Manzanillo. It turned out he was a loan officer at a bank, and because he’d heard about my mother’s incredible work ethic and talent, he took a chance and loaned her the $10,000 that we needed to open our first location. Since then we’ve had many, many lucky breaks, but they wouldn’t have amounted to anything if we hadn’t known how to capitalize on them.”
John Echeveste, co-founder of public relations firm VPE:
“I was working for Hispanic Community Development Corp. as vice president of communications when my boss decided I should start my own P.R. agency. This was not part of the game plan, but I guess he saw something in me that I didn’t. At any rate, he offered to give me an account for a year to keep me going and in return he asked that I find my own replacement. I was having a hard time making good on that promise when, luckily enough, the right person appeared. My boss was happy and I was on my way. I think success has more to do with hard work and focus than it does to luck, though luck helps, that’s for sure.”
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