Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Luck and Skill

So down-to-earth. Sergey Brin showed up on the last day of the Web 2.0 conference this month as reported and also here. He made a few comments, starting with:

The No. 1 factor that contributed to our success over the past seven years is luck. One of the biggest mistakes people make in assessing their success or failure is discounting the effect of luck.
This is probably a bit on the modest side, but it is a becoming modesty. The PageRank approach (see also a detailed external analysis), does seem to be based on key insights. All the same, he was there the whole time and he is in a good position to know.

His comments remind me a bit of comments in a letter written by Abraham Lincoln. "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me." (to A. G. Hodges, April 4, 1864)

Or from the bible, "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (Eccesiastes 9:11), and the Damon Runyon coda, "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet."

Good luck to all of us!