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Lucky or Smart?: Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  882 ratings  ·  49 reviews
At twenty-seven, Bo Peabody was an Internet multi-millionaire. In the heady days of the late 1990s, though, when every cool kid had an IPO, that wasn’t very remarkable. What is remarkable is that he’s even more successful today. He has co-founded five different companies, in varied industries, and made them thrive during the best and worst of economic times. Through it all ...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Random House
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  882 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though I am not a first time entrepreneur, I decided to pick up this little book as I am interested in starting up yet another business.
Fairly interesting, definitely easy to read.

His answer to the title question is: "I was smart enough to realize I was getting lucky." He talks a lot about the differences between entrepreneurs and managers. He says that entrepreneurs want results immediately, while managers are happy to wait. Entrepreneurs understand everything about nothing and a little b
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Very quick read (58 pages total) and very simple concepts, such as the author's belief in starting "fundamentally innovative, morally compelling and philosophically positive companies," that "B-students" start companies and "A-students" are hired to manage those companies, and that is important to understand "the difference between being lucky and being smart."

While I appreciate the candor and simplicity of the book, and stories of the author's successes are mostly entertaining, it's a bit too f
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Start a company that is fundamentally innovative, morally compelling, and philosophically positive." Bo shares this and other interesting tidbits in this quick read. He has several insightful takeaways from his "smart enough to know he was lucky" days as an entrepreneur. Some great tips, although I'd take with a grain of salt about entrepreneurs being "born" and not raised...I think there's a TED Talk arguing the latter... ...more
Peter Song
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
my only takeaway from this book was that as an entrepreneur you are a B student or B player. Good at many things. Jack of master trades, master at none. However you will need to hire A players, those who are specialized in certain areas that you need and can help you grow.
Raj Shankar
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: entrepreneurship
I would call it a booklet rather than a book. If you are on a short haul flight or car ride - slip it into your coat pocket and you will be done during the journey a couple of times over. No jokes! The book is small and entertaining. It has harsh truths put too bluntly. Its been a book, i pick up often and just read a little and put it back into my library. If you are entrepreneurial you will love it. Here is a slightly longer review:
Kevin Shockey
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thought it was going to be simpleton stupid, but it was actually pretty interesting. Bo makes some decent points:
- surround yourself with smart people;
- trust their opinions and leadership;
- B students found companies, A students turn them into successful businesses;
- dont't burn your bridges, pay it forward, you'll never know when.

In the end it helped me see some mistakes I'm making...
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Short but full of ideas about what makes entrepreneurs succeed. It is both brains and luck. And as the author says it is in large part having the brains to figure out that you're lucky so that you know when to walk away. ...more
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 100-best
This book was included in my book: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. ...more
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book; it was very entertaining. Having worked at one of Bo's companies and eaten at his restaurants it hit home. I only wish it were 250 pages rather than 50 ...more
Jeff Horn
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's always good to be smart enough to know when your lucky. The challenge is to know the difference while it is occurring. ...more
Ponnusamy K
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
He is describing, How B student and A student will behave, Why the 95 Year old lady applied divorce after 75 years. What Good to Great says to entrepreneurs.
Larry Ball
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The only truly valuable review for this book can come from fellow entrepreneurs. I am not one by Peabody's definition. As a non- entrepreneur, I found the book highly entertaining and well structured. It was also concise with little fluff. Great work Bo! ...more
Mary Kelly
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A quick, light read that has a couple of useful notes. Reign in your ego, don't believe your own press and recognize when you have just plain been lucky. ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biz
Now I know, among other things, to ask of all the other books on my biz reading list whether the book is for entrepreneurs or for managers. Neat.
Naomi Ruth
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
A short little book with some inspiring thoughts on being smart enough to know when you're being lucky. ...more
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not bad, but enough for that not to matter too much.
Sagar Budhathoki Magar
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Quick read book. Awesome and worth reading... You'll find what mistakes are you making. ...more
Alberto Lopez
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
While I am very interested in the concept that much business success is tied to luck, I found the book somewhat scattered and lacking rigor. In the end, though, the author brought it back to the importance not of being lucky but of being aware of such luck when success in business happens.
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This books asks the entrepreneur to focus on few core skills like attracting and keeping the best minds to work for you for low salary. Because you are a start up company, the author encourages the reader to acquire the needed funding by repeatedly calling the angel investors or loan sharks even while you hear the word "NO".

These are his following statements:
• Make the world a better place.
• Increase the quality of life.
• Right a terrible wrong.
• Prevent the end of something good.
• Can you work
Ali Alkhudhair
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fun short read about entrepreneurship. Luck is not a mere chance, rather than a probability you can improve.
The book is fun read about many stories that the author went through.
Jul 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
Pretty empty business book that falls more into the "generic motivation" category than the business category. The "secrets" that the author alludes to are basically:

1) Know which of your employees/partners are smarter than you, and try to orchestrate smart people rather than doing everything yourself. In fact, Bo actually says that if you ARE smart, you won't make a very good entrepreneur. This is probably big news for Elon Musk and company.

2) The job of an entrepreneur is to engage in a constan
Lamec Mariita
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is not just a business book. I recommend it for everyone. It's very enjoyable with many wonderful little nuggets and life-lessons. If you are looking to start up a business on your own and think that you'll make it work cause your smart or you'll make it work because everything just works out for you, then you should read this book. I was very impressed with the quality of information, and how the author really brings his entrepreneurial experience alive. The book makes its points well ...more
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Solid book! Only a few pages. We're thinking of starting a smoothie business in Pittsburgh so we decided to read this book (among others). It was definitely worth the read because it was so short. For that reason, it's hard to have a strong opinion about it. Overall, I'd say just read it if you're thinking about it-- you don't know what you don't know. So... If you hate it, not much is lost. If you love it, much is gained. ...more
Michelle Han
Sep 09, 2008 rated it liked it
A short, simple book with wisdom from one entrepreneur who says he was both lucky and smart in business, but more importantly smart enough to realize he was getting lucky. Has lots of pithy, moral admonitions (that apply to life as much as business), like "know what you don't know," and "always be gracious." ...more
Craig Kelley
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
Quick read about some of the truths about moving from an employee to an employer. I like it because it's concise and the author doesn't sound "preachy" about being an entrepreneur. I especially like how he defines the relationship between the A students and B students and how they need to work together to make a business thrive. ~NR ...more
Joseph Draschil
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Some interesting ideas, and definitely a fresh perspective. However, the entire book is anecdotal, and therefore biased and potentially skewed to a single perspective. The author admits as much in a few parts.

As I said, there were some good nuggets, but they are located among a lot of other content that could be dangerous if taken at face value.
Sep 10, 2013 rated it liked it
A short book. Pretty decent overall, but not much depth to it. It is mostly a collection of anecdotes which are quite entertaining and are probably the best part of the book. The principles themselves are quite generic and you've probably read them elsewhere - surround yourself with bright people etc. ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Even though I don't believe in luck, I found Peabody's book is a great read for anyone who believes or knows they are an entrepreneur. It's a very short and quick read with good lessons and autobiographical stories. ...more
Ravi Sinha
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
According to the author, A students don't make good entrepreneurs. B students with fluttering attention spans do (by hiring A students who can be focused managers or engineers). And also, be gracious and keep your ego in check. ...more
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