Making Your Own Luck In Retail

Making Your Own Luck In Retail

As I have mentioned in a past article or two – I have been consulting for an extremely challenging company – in the recent months – to assess the company culture and challenges that exist in the field that are impeding growth and negatively impacting brand reputation. One of the biggest challenges that, frankly, I have never experienced before was an overwhelming lack of interest in personal growth initiatives of the field leadership and store leadership teams. It was almost as though they fought learning so that they had an excuse not to deliver results. They were happily and proactively ignorant of almost any expectation of their role and responsibilities but, holy cow – could they reference State Law and they made sure that they included every possible buzzword in their complaints about their coworkers, their bosses, me, HR, and even the customers – whomever tried to teach them something or hold them accountable for their performance through coaching, development, simple conversation, and/or guidance.


It’s unfair and unreasonable of me to paint the whole team with this broad brush – but I can honestly say about 95% of entire market that I met and interacted with was challenging. There were three people who I thought were pretty spectacular and wondered how they made it through the same talent selection process as others and why they are still there when they would be fabulous in almost any retail environment where they could thrive, contribute, and grow.

It was a very unusual and unique atmosphere and it really led me to think about what tremendous opportunity we have to teach strategy and planning and how we need to attract, source, and build our brand reputation around accountability, professional accomplishment, and a level of customer experience for our team to be truly proud and own and drive their performance as opposed to content victims of their circumstance.

Working On Your Life Or Just In It?


Over the course of the few months I’d been working with this retail organization I was able to have some very honest conversations with the few people who were amenable to forward-thinking and open dialogs. I have shared before that my retail mantra is “Hope Is Not A Strategy”. I believe that those of us who are determined to be successful understand that there is no true “luck” involved – hard-work and determination by design create opportunities for “luck” to appear.

In fact – far too many people in retail whine about not having control over their destiny. The main reason people fall short of their own expectations is the same reason most companies fail to achieve their objectives: no – or poor – planning and execution. They cross their fingers and “hope” they are lucky and successful even though they deliver inconsistent or perhaps “good enough” results.

There have been a couple proud moments when team members asked for feedback on how they could “do better” or “be better”. I was enthusiastic and excited to speak to the various ways that people created their own luck and found success through hard work. Talent, expertise, determination, perseverance are all elements of success. And to be able to have people who had little or no sense of personal pride in getting a job done or done well – to having these conversations and truly see that there is a better way to deliver and own their performance and results was absolutely energizing!


7 Things People Who Make Their Own Luck Do

  • They Meet New People & Talk To Strangers: If there is anything remotely “lucky” about success it’s being in the right place at the right time. This type of serendipity doesn’t happen very often in retail as most people are either at the office or they are in their stores. However, there are some retailer leaders out there who actively attend and participate in the fun industry networking events we have on occasion. You can’t “luck” into meeting the right person or people unless you meet a number of people and actively engage with them. The more people you meet, the more your odds of getting “lucky” are.  Get out. Meet people. Talk to the guy waiting beside you at the curb. Talk to the woman behind you in line at the market. Talk to the people you see everyday on the same platform while waiting for the train. You never know whom you may meet, especially if you assume good things will happen. Fortune favors the bold, but fortune also favors the prepared, strategic, and determined. If you haven’t read Kio Stark’s, “When Stranger’s Meet“, I absolutely recommend it. It is both illuminating and inspiring.
  • Tap Into Your Optimism: Optimistic people create lots of good luck and positive vibes. Studies have shown that more than 80% of people who feel they’re lucky actually work harder at creating their good fortune. On the flip side, people who feel unlucky tend to believe that bad luck just happens to them [they are happy to play the victim] and that it isn’t something they have any power to change. Lucky people view the world with optimism and enthusiasm. When bad things happen – as they tend to do on occasion – it is their optimism that makes them extremely resilient. They are able to pick themselves up and face another day energized, engaged, and ready for anything – creating more opportunities for “luck”.


  • They Try More: Most “lucky ducks” are incredibly tenacious. They try, fail, try, it’s not quite there, and then try some more. Is the end result of success luck? Or is it that persistence and a willingness to learn from what didn’t work so that next time you are even more prepared, more skilled, more talented, and therefore “luckier”? Take chances. Be bold. Be fearless. You want more out of life? You HAVE to give more. You want a promotion? Be amazing (not simply “good enough”). You want recognition? Deliver results that are worthy of recognizing.
  • Be Open To The Possibilities: When you understand that you are the master of your destiny you understand that your professional retail brand is everything to the opportunities you invite. People who work to polish and publish their brand are also open to different perspectives. They engage in lively dialogs and aren’t afraid to share their thoughts and opinions. This supports others understanding that you are adaptable and agile in your thinking and your ability to see topics from a variety of view points.
  • Be A Giver: Birds of a feather do flock together. Mediocrity attracts mediocrity. Amazing attracts amazing. You get the picture. Open and giving people tend to attract like-minded people in retail. Giving creates the relationship bonds and trust that create moments of “luck”. When you authentically share – you will find others that do the same – with support, with opportunity, with guidance.


  • Dare To Ask: People limit themselves in so many ways because they are worried about asking questions. Many years ago I was consulting for a company that had a private corporate jet. People that had worked at the company spoke about this plane like it was the Holy Grail. One day the SVP of the organization and I were meeting and he had to take the jet to visit another city and I was able to tag along.  Oh boy – the yentas were all making and sharing assumptions about how I managed to go on the corporate jet and those that had worked for the organization for decades had never been on it. It was thrilling to meet their transparent assumptions with the simple phrase, “I asked”. Luck frequently comes down to the right person saying yes. Yes to your innovative idea; yes to your proposal; yes to your request. No one can say “yes” until you ask, though. Unlucky people wait to be discovered and given what they want. Lucky people show their capabilities and possibilities and ask for what they want and they show that they are deserving of it.
  • There’s No Conclusion: In order to continue to create your own luck, you need to remind yourself that there is never an “ending”. Never stop learning, developing, and investing in yourself. Reminding yourself that there will never be a conclusion and continuing to stretch yourself, challenge yourself, and remaining optimistic will bring you the best chance of “luck” in retail.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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