LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says success is both luck and hard work


LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman has found massive success in his career. He was an early executive at PayPal, he founded LinkedIn, and he’s now an investing partner at Greylock Partners. Where did that success come from? Hoffman joined Business Insider’s podcast, “Success! How I Did It,” to answer the age-old question: does success stem from luck or hard work?

Richard Feloni: How much do you think success is a matter of effort and hard work, and how much do you think would be luck in terms of where you were born, who your parents are, gender, race, et cetera?

Reid Hoffman: So this is one of those false-dichotomy questions because the answer is massively both, right?

Some people who are successful like to say, “It’s all skill! It was my capabilities!” And it’s, like, “No, no.”

Like, I was lucky to have been born in the Stanford Hospital, to have gone to Stanford, to know about the network, to participate in it, to make some great friends and connections that kind of helped me along with it. All of that stuff is hugely serendipitous. On the other hand, you also try to think and act as strategic as you could, you try to learn constantly, you work hundred-hour weeks, are constantly kind of trading lessons and information with each other in order to make it happen.

So the short answer is, it’s both massively luck and massively hard work. Sometimes it’s more luck than hard work, and sometimes it’s more hard work than luck. But every success requires both.