Wick Communications

The power of serendipity

In Reporting on 4 Jun 2015 at 2:02 pm

“Free pizza saved my life.” So begins Michal Wiczkowski’s LOWKeynote address at the Stanford Graduate School of Business earlier this year. He is an MBA candidate and a bright guy. He’s also quite a storyteller.

Appropriately enough, I found his quick address on YouTube by thumbing through Twitter. He would be pleased. His address was all about such serendipitous moments.

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: Newspapers are all about serendipity. You may buy the paper in the rack because of the story above the fold, but what you find on Page 2 is a surprise. We learn about the world through the whims of curiosity and our curiosity as journalists are guided by a sort of educated serendipity. We think something interesting will happen at the city council meeting, and it may be something we hadn’t expected to write about at all. We attend the baseball game not knowing that we will witness the first triple play the team has ever turned.

Wiczkowski says there are four ways to increase the serendipity in your life and let me tell you we could all use more of that. …

  • Turn up. Just go to the thing you are thinking about skipping. Attend the meeting. Hear the author read from his book. Meet someone for lunch.
  • Put yourself in the right place. A corollary to turn up, here he suggests looking for opportunities for serendipitous exchanges by taking the right classes, working toward the right jobs, etc.
  • Use serendipity engines. Blogs, Twitter, Medium, Facebook. These are where we learn things we didn’t know we needed to know.
  • Don’t require a reason. Don’t be too quick to dismiss an invite because it doesn’t accomplish a task on your list for the day. Be open. “Because the experience can benefit you when you least expect it,” he says.

Serendipity. One of my favorite words.


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