Accidental Millionaires

Tip of the MorningForest Gump wanted to be a shrimp boat captain. So, after he returned from the war, Forrest went out and bought a shrimp boat and persistently failed until luck visited him. With that luck, as well as the help of his reluctant, yet devoted apostle, Lieutenant Dan, Forrest was able to build a shrimp distribution empire that transformed him into an Accidental Millionaire.

Only in the movies, right? But, as I learned from my five year study of self-made millionaires (Rich Habits Study), luck plays a very important factor in striking it rich. But the luck I’m referring to isn’t a random good luck many rich-haters ascribe to the wealth. The luck I’m referring to is called Opportunity Luck. This is a type of luck that only visits those with persistence, good daily habits and a work ethic driven by a passion that borders on the obsessive.

There are many self-made millionaires out there who were beneficiaries of Opportunity Luck.

Tabasco Sauce

Image result for picture of tabasco sauce

Edmund McIchenry, a struggling farmer, was tired of eating bland food. So, in 1865, in an effort to liven up his food, he began experimenting with some of the hot Mexican peppers that were growing in the garden, just outside his kitchen.

The sauce he created became known as Tabasco Sauce.


Image result for picture of Q-tip

Leo Gerstensang noticed his wife trying to clean their baby’s ears with a toothpick and some cotton. Worried she might hurt their child, he created the Q-Tip.

Apple Computer

Steve Jobs was desperately seeking seed capital in order to get his fledgling Apple Computer up an running. There was one wealthy individual in town who had turned Jobs down on his funding request. That was until the wealthy local saw Jobs having lunch with a representative from Rockefeller Venture Capital. The wealthy local man, thinking the Rockefeller’s were investing with Jobs (they too turned Jobs down), decided to invest $150,000, which gave birth to Apple Computer.


Sam Spratt/Gizmodo

In 1943, Navy engineer Richard James was trying to figure out how to use springs to keep the sensitive instruments aboard ships from rocking themselves to death, when he knocked one of his prototypes over. Instead of crashing to the floor, it gracefully sprang downward, and then righted itself. Slinky’s went on to sell 300 million worldwide!

Opportunity Luck requires that you be tuned in to opportunity. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is part of our old brain (brain stem) physiology. It’s purpose is to filter out most sensory data, unless that data is important to us. Our name, for example, is important to us. When you hear your name, even in a crowded, noisy airport, you turn in the direction of the person calling your name. That’s the RAS at work.

You can tune your RAS into receiving only specific sensory information, like your name. When you set a big goal or follow a life dream, your RAS becomes tuned in to sensory data that will help you achieve the goal or realize the dream. Opportunities we did not see previously, become obvious. The law of attraction is actually the RAS system at work. You are not actually attracting opportunities but rather becoming aware of them thanks to the RAS. This is why those who set big goals or pursue a major purpose or dream in life are so much more successful than everyone else. Their RAS is working for them, allowing them to achieve great things in life.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Nice post!

    The “Rich-haters” line was a little divisive but we’ve all seen them. Rather not think about them. I understand the need for the distinction in the kind of luck you’re referring to though.

    There are habits – best practices consistently implemented through discipline that best position individuals to seize and make the most of opportunities. If the person did not have his/her foundation of previous work/preparation in place, then he/she wouldn’t be able to capitalize on the opportunity anyway. This distinguishes those who got rich in your list and many wealthy people, from those who won the lotto or received an inheritance (the latter who usually squander it anyway).

  2. You are what you repeatedly focus on. Focus on bettering yourself and serving your fellow man and you will be a luck magnet. Focus on satisfying your base impulses and railing against “the system” and you will be a luck repellent. Thank you Tom for sharing the science behind “focus.” This is something all Americans should know.

  3. Great post! I love your ending. There are a ton of opportunities that are constantly presented to us. We just need to know when to capitalize and when to just go for it. Those inventors stumbled on the these great ideas, but they didn’t just come up with the idea, go to bed, and wake up a millionaire. There were all the experiments, failures, and eventual triumphs that made the difference and helped them become millionaires.

    Also, I’m instantly hooked to any PF article that has a Forrest Gump reference. Thanks for the read!


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