The Power of Starting Conditions and the Role of Luck in Success


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 04, 2023

3 min read


The Power of Starting Conditions and the Role of Luck in Success


Success and social status are often attributed to hard work and talent. However, two seemingly unrelated stories - one about the success of Stephen King and J.K. Rowling under pen names and another about the growth of - shed light on the concept of cumulative advantage, also known as the Matthew effect. This effect explains how those who start with an advantage relative to others can retain that advantage over a long period of time. In this article, we explore the importance of starting conditions, the role of luck in success, and how individuals can focus on their efforts to achieve their goals.

The Matthew Effect and Starting Conditions:

The Matthew effect, as observed in the success of Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, highlights how initial advantages can lead to long-term success. When the true identities of these authors were revealed, their books experienced a significant increase in sales. This phenomenon can be seen in various other domains as well, where initial conditions play a crucial role in determining outcomes. Starting conditions matter more and more as time progresses, making it essential to recognize and leverage any advantages we may have.

The Influence of Luck and Serendipity:

Life is often influenced by happenstance and serendipity, elements that are beyond our control. Accepting luck as a primary determinant in our lives can be liberating. Instead of judging ourselves solely on outcomes, we can focus on our efforts and the actions we take. While some individuals may be born with more advantages than others, it is crucial not to let that define our level of effort. By acknowledging the role of luck, we can approach life with a sense of freedom and strive to make the most of our circumstances.

The Story of

The success story of, a book community with over 2.6 million members, offers insights into the importance of starting conditions and the power of user engagement. The platform initially gained traction through organic growth, with the founders promoting it among their friends and acquaintances. However, it was the attention from influential platforms like Mashable and the support of passionate bloggers that propelled to new heights. The platform's focus on connecting users with their friends' reading activities and facilitating engaging discussions in groups played a significant role in its continued growth and user retention.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Recognize and Leverage Your Starting Conditions: While we may not have control over our starting conditions, we can identify any advantages we possess and use them to our benefit. Whether it's skills, connections, or resources, understanding our starting point can help us make strategic decisions and seize opportunities.
  • 2. Embrace Serendipity and Take Action: Luck and happenstance are an inherent part of life. Instead of dwelling on what we cannot control, we should focus on taking action and making the most of the opportunities that come our way. By staying open to serendipitous encounters and being proactive, we increase our chances of success.
  • 3. Foster Meaningful Connections and Engagement:'s success can be attributed to its emphasis on connecting users and facilitating discussions. In our pursuits, it is crucial to build meaningful relationships and engage with like-minded individuals. By joining communities and participating actively, we can gain valuable insights and support that contribute to our growth and success.


The stories of Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and highlight the significance of starting conditions and the role of luck in success. While some individuals may have more advantages than others, it is essential not to let that determine our level of effort. By recognizing the influence of luck, embracing serendipity, and leveraging our unique starting conditions, we can focus on our efforts and strive for success. Remember, success is not solely determined by where we start but by how we navigate the journey.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)