Is Success Luck or Hard Work?
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Huge thanks to Gene and Sam from Potato Jet for filming with me:

This video was inspired by and draws examples from the book "Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy" by Robert H. Frank

Special thanks to Patreon supporters (and to everyone who commented on an earlier version of this video):
Marc Forand, Robert Dickerson, Christian Stauffer, LoadTooSlow, Vincent, Lyvann Ferrusca, DALE HORNE, Alfred Wallace, Kevin Beavers, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Michael Krugman, Ron Neal, Donal Botkin

Animations by Iván Tello

  • Arek R.
    Arek R.

    I really don't get how people met future wives on the internet, when I've tried, girls get bored after 1-4 months of chatting and it just ends.

  • Kavvi

    Wanted to be a fighter pilot, its expensive my family couldnt affort to pay for it, it requiered 20/20 eyesight, mine was lower than 10, had option to do laser surgery, literally 1 year before i could join they decided they would no longer accept people with bad eyesight even if they made surgery. And now its no wonder why its the country with one of the worst air forces even with good aircraft. Chile is my country and their airforce is 100% only daddy rich kids who never fighted for their position and just sucks at doing what their parents paid for lol

  • Mat R
    Mat R

    ⚀ *Rather - Is Success Hard Work, or, God Ordained ? There is no such thing as Luck.*

  • Mark Melville
    Mark Melville

    Life is a confluence of ability., talent, hard work and luck. Luck is not to be underestimated. You can have all of the above, but that one chance meeting, with the right person, at the right time, can make all the difference in the world.

  • castanjo

    To quote a Swedish famous athlete: "Well, I don't know about luck. I just know I'm luckier the more effort i put into it" Felt relevant somehow. Great and interesting video as always. Really made me think.

  • Vincent Zhou
    Vincent Zhou

    Luck stat is most op stat in RPG's anyway

  • Shahriar Tanvir
    Shahriar Tanvir

    excellent video. Now I can point this video when I talk about luck with people.

  • Yaxley

    So I was screwed since birth, I was born Dec 29! IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!

  • Ayden Perkins
    Ayden Perkins

    Reminds me of the book "Outliers".

  • Boii McFacto
    Boii McFacto

    This will probably get lost in the sea of comments, but I really hope you read this: I always love interesting and cool phenomena that seemingly go against common intuition, exactly like Illusory Superiority, or the 'above average effect'. That's why this is one of my most favourite videos you've ever made. And I ended up using this principle and research paper as a part of a thesis I had to write in my first year of college - and I was the only one who got a perfect 10 grade in that course because of this video. And THEN, that 10 grade allowed me to choose the course I most wanted to pursue - CS. So this is definitely against everything you said in this video, but YOU helped me out MUCH MORE than I could state, and for that I thank you. God I hope you never stop making videos, you're the best!

  • Bryan Chance
    Bryan Chance

    If you truly worked hard and still failed, you are working on the wrong thing. Listen to your intuition.

  • Mellyna


  • Diane Hansen
    Diane Hansen

    A totally charming, lovely video. Had to watch it twice.

  • Alexandra Delliou
    Alexandra Delliou

    2021: 2054

  • DeltaX

    So... What do you mean exactly? Does luck matters?

  • Indunil Priyanke Ranawake
    Indunil Priyanke Ranawake

    She didn't answer...... she asked a question...... and you took her in 😆😆😆

  • Sudsy

    what's the song which starts at 7:24?

  • At Risk
    At Risk

    Seriuosly? increasing someone's luck is like reducing luck of someone else... and if every successful person really become generous, generosity won't increase someone's luck at all???

  • Vailix

    It's luck and that's just how it sadly is.

  • Kenneth Hall
    Kenneth Hall

    Most successful people take advantage of opportunities and invest smartly. With the prize of Bitcoin in the market, investing in it now, is the sure way to achieve your aims. Making money is the plan and with Bitcoin Investment your plans can be fulfilled💯

    • Theo Nicolas
      Theo Nicolas

      @Rose Robin I invested $4,000 and made profit of $20,000 in seven days, believe me or not, but that's the fact

    • Theo Nicolas
      Theo Nicolas

      @Rose Robin 100% trusted, still receive my profit till date, I'm a proof to his legitimacy I must say.

    • Rose Robin
      Rose Robin

      Is this Elias Greyson fx trusted?

    • Raphael Lyon
      Raphael Lyon

      You can reach Elias Greyson Cooper fx on Facebook as well .

    • Raphael Lyon
      Raphael Lyon

      +, 1, 9, 1, 7, 3, 4, 1, 4, 2, 7, 8,

  • Psoso Luxxavva
    Psoso Luxxavva

    Communist propaganda

  • Mlad

    "The harder I work, the luckier I get." You have to work hard to be and stay in the game and ENABLE good fortune to come to you.

  • cNash

    Imma shove this to people that claim their success is 100% skill

  • Prince Sambrano
    Prince Sambrano

    Thanks for the word!

  • Jacek Szkutnik
    Jacek Szkutnik

    I believe I have 0% of controll over my life, I also do not believe in existence of good or happiness, there is only bottomless despair and fear.

    • Iridium

      I’m terribly sorry to hear that. Remember that God feels your sorrow and wants to talk to you! There is good in this world and He is the way to it.

  • rahmspinat

    I found out he's Australian just now

  • Nicholas Kinkaid
    Nicholas Kinkaid

    I was impressed by the subtlety of the egocentric bias example at the start of the video. Upon first impression it may seem like an example of men since they are brought up first but, in actuality, it's the 97% of women.

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    desfiju fonudnif

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  • Meaty Kyun
    Meaty Kyun

    my goodness, how cute, that story with him and his wife ^^

  • Jan Grzelakowski
    Jan Grzelakowski

    The answer is both

  • P B
    P B

    One important message from Hindu scriptures is you keep doing your work, but do not expect anything, it is the work that your are doing is only for the ever present consciousness

  • No One
    No One

    The main thing a love about this channel is the intellectual level of the commentators

  • Cosmin Gurau
    Cosmin Gurau

    Excellent video. Tho, what you fail to realize is that those skills, hard work, etc, constitute LUCK as well.

  • Tasilo von Heydebrandt und der Lasa
    Tasilo von Heydebrandt und der Lasa

    This is a good, but somewhat misleading view of the so-called Matthew Effect. We need to distinguish between incontrovertibly winning, or receiving 1st place, and simply reliably being in a top tier. Yes, the runners who received a first place or set world records may have had a wind at their back, but importantly, even when they weren't being first, they were always being in the top tier; in other words, Usain Bolt and Florence Griffith Joyner never ran races in which they were last. So luck, it seems to me, is most puissant when the degrees of freedom are small as to what constitutes "winning", especially if the "experiment" or trial is not repeated.

  • Deryago

    That's such an incredible way to meet your life partner.

  • TheLost Civilization
    TheLost Civilization

    Sanskrit said it thousands of years ago: कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन । मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भुर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥ You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. - Bhagavad Gita, Chapter II, Verse 47

    • Anirudha Singh Mertia
      Anirudha Singh Mertia


  • m1d2m34

    You can't just call everything mildly unexpected a paradox.

  • justsme

    Very interesting I think one other great example is shown in the book by Weber The protestant ethic and the spirt of capitalism, and the general ripercussions of that thoughts in that period of time.

  • Lorrita xavier
    Lorrita xavier

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  • W

    I love you man..!

  • Ben Gray
    Ben Gray

    We are all put in this world for a reason, and everyone has a different destiny, the problem is we look at others and want to be like them, forgetting our destiny, being confused by the flashing lights, our job in this world is to do the best we can, Not to be successful, it's like a pipe full of good things, we just have to open it, And most important be thankful for anything we have.

    • Chuyew

      @Ben Gray There is a mistake. If destiny is inevitable that means maybe destiny of people you write about is look at others and want to be like them.

  • Varun Mishra
    Varun Mishra

    since luck is a chance event, not in your control, the best thing you can do is keep working hard and allow yourself the chance to get lucky. This has been the story of my own life experiences as well

  • Allnew Jient
    Allnew Jient

    I was born in the rich west(Belgium), child of parents addicted to heroine and alcohol so basicly lived in relative poverty.Grew up in instituitions where i was harassed, beaten and molested. When i was older i sacrificed 3 years of my life on spending all the money i had on bitcoin.Suffered hard but made the sacrifice. So it is definitly not all just luck.I was very lucky to be born in the west but unlucky with my parents. Now i have made it. Is it luck or the sacrifice? I guess a bit of both .Your thoughts on this Veritasium?

  • Gregor Samsa
    Gregor Samsa

    Even talent and hard work are both just luck at a deeper level. It's just luck in terms of your physiology and psychology

  • Fred Sager
    Fred Sager

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  • Zero z
    Zero z

    😂😂😂 the sticks are simply not gendered or they are gay.

  • Ron T
    Ron T

    It's unfortunate that the majority (I believe and witness) of the younger generations don't see any value in hard labor where you actually have to sweat and get dirty. They're pounded by media and the small ratio of rich SVsoftr's or Twitch'ers they watch to seemingly "get rich quick". Values and self respect seem to have gone to the wayside along with this. When you have to EARN something you want through "sweat equity" in doing a good hard days work you will feel more rewarded when you achieve a goal and have a more meaningful sense of self accomplishment. In addition a person needs to learn their natural born limits. If you suck at Math no matter how hard you try then obviously you will not be an Astronaut or Engineer etc. I see this as a biological genetic ability or inability. I took testing before and after (25 years) the Military. My IQ isn't anything special at 127 but I'm in the upper 14th percentile for Geometry. So since my first ASVAB in High school I had increased my Math and English Comp skills. I believe Natural Ability is genetic and doesn't mean you won't be successful in another area that's more suitable to your abilities. Online test are available to prove this to you. Some people will always be servers at McDonald's.

  • Robert Schuster
    Robert Schuster

    I can guarantee that luck is the majority of financial success. There are billions of people who work hard in this world but only a very few find financial success.

  • Abbas Güven Akçay
    Abbas Güven Akçay

    I have a different answer to how to succeed in such a world you described. If luck plays a role in success, you just try again and again. Because if there is some random luck element, and it is not biased (that means it is random); then the more you try, the higher your chances of getting "high" luck in some of the trials. That is why perseverance makes you successful. If you keep trying, you increases your chances of getting high luck, and thus your chances of succeeding. Just keep trying folks, you can brute force your way into the god damn luck :)

    • RVWI

      You're assuming the more you shoot a gun on a target the more chances you have of hitting that target.. This real assumption here is some people don't get to have a gun or too poor to have a gun or too sick to be able too hold it...etc. No how about if you grew up in an invironment in which guns are not even apreciated or you never even heard of guns? Having a gun with enough bullets IS luck in and of itself.

  • Jake Hartman
    Jake Hartman

    I have a hard time understanding why you used that simulation because it doesn't strike me as congruent with how most people perceive of luck. It's not just a random 5% addition to your score, sometimes it's like being at the right place at the right time or the order in which your application is looked at, or something else which cannot be translated simply into some 5% bonus, there's more variance than a normal distribution among 5%. Secondly, the simulation is severely flawed as it stands: If you took the top 5% of 1,000 people based on "experience" and then asked, what were the odds that they are also in the top 5% based on "luck" you would get that 2.5 of those people should be in the top 5% in both--meaning, there's no way that those 2.5 people could be kicked out of the selection group because they were both extremely lucky and extremely skilled: these 2 people were guaranteed to end up in the final 11 based on luck alone, because there were 48 other people who could have made it to the end without luck. But that's not what you said, you said that 2 people out of the 11 would be there in spite of luck, and the other 9 would be there only because of luck. The problem with the simulation is that if instead I asked (as you did), "what were the odds of a person being in the bottom 5% of luck and the top 5% of skill," you would also get 2.5--which is what you reported: people who were very unlucky but still would have made it to the final 11 would be 2 people, on average. You see how the way that you've devised the simulation influences the answer that you're getting? When I set it up the first time I got a different answer because I asked a different question. It's not a good simulation if it works both ways and you only reported the one that produced the result that you wanted.

    • Zero z
      Zero z

      I did a test early in the morning sometime last week, I had to do a oral presentation and I knew I got a high grade because I'm favoured by the teacher and everything I do is more than it is in her head. The average grade for boys were significantly more than that of girls. I realized the guys in the class are more respectful than the girls when it came on to this teacher so she might have a unconsciously biased judgement. I like your perspective on this topic.

  • #NewBlakeStone. A complex and unique st0ner
    #NewBlakeStone. A complex and unique st0ner

    Nobody wants to bring up people that made them who they are along the way.

  • Jesse Swaney
    Jesse Swaney

    Please check out my science videos. It would mean the world to me.

  • GenericFirstName GenericLastName
    GenericFirstName GenericLastName

    Good stuff Derek. One thing does come to mind for this: for your simulation of the astronaut selection, how would the results be different if every candidate's skill and luck score existed not on a flat distribution, but a normal distribution? In your example, the most elite candidates are only "twice" as skilled as the average candidate, where I think in reality they would be "dozens of times" more skilled, even if it's very difficult to objectively define a person's skill in numerical terms. With this in mind, it could make a lot more of the top 11 based off of statistical outlier candidates exhibiting extreme skill, rather than a collection of extremely lucky AND skilled applicants.

  • Gene Phipps
    Gene Phipps

    Cliffs notes for this excellent video: The harder I work the luckier I am.

  • Kristian Rasmussen
    Kristian Rasmussen

    I love this freakin video.

  • Urano

    No one is gonna talk about mattbro1995? "Micro-volts?!? My god, they've invented a new type of electricity! :P"

  • Rodolfo .o
    Rodolfo .o

    Please make a spanish version of this so i can shere the luck with more friends.

  • Srijan Singh
    Srijan Singh

    9:59 that’s so great

  • Corvus Glaive
    Corvus Glaive

    Anybody who was born in a developing nation knows that there is an element of luck in success. There are just so many things outside your control that can derail your progress towards success if you are in a developing nation.

  • Rigo Cervantes
    Rigo Cervantes

    Congratulations on your beautiful wife.

  • Muthulingam Ramiah
    Muthulingam Ramiah

    This is definitely one of your best videos Bro... Keep up the good work...

  • Eddie Hernandez
    Eddie Hernandez

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  • Yhen Aherne
    Yhen Aherne

    I think if a good or bad luck experience happens early in a persons life it could have a profound effect on the way a person views a future opportunity, good or bad, and therefore affects the overall outcomes on the successfulness of the person. The later in life these good or bad experiences occur, the less effect they have on the persons psych.

  • Jin Shun Lin
    Jin Shun Lin

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  • sirploko

    The graphic at 3:23 is wrong. Men run 110m hurdles, only women run 100m.

  • Shlogmaster64

    "Don't trade luck for skill."

  • Abdelaziz Bekhet
    Abdelaziz Bekhet

    If you are a muslim , you will always know that your success is all matter depends on Allah's will , Allah wants you to be a professional player you will be a professional player even if all the humans on Earth literally disagree. It's all about Allah's will and by your Doaa ( asking Allah for the thing you want ) he will definitely open all the locked doors in your way . May Allah accept our worshipping ❤

    • Abdelaziz Bekhet
      Abdelaziz Bekhet

      @Learn Math Olympiad I don't know how you guys believe that all these things happened and happens by just luck , you don't see the art of creation 🤔 , do you only think things just happened to be like this without a creator?

    • Learn Math Olympiad
      Learn Math Olympiad

      he doesn't exist . praying only makes you calm . but it is helpful tho

  • Tornado Taylor
    Tornado Taylor

    5:43 have i been saying the channel name wrong this entire time?

  • pixelkiste


  • Ambrosia314

    I attribute finding this channel to luck. This is absolutely my new favorite channel. Presenting evidence for an argument; what a concept! I wish that was a universal constant.

  • Puge Gamlin
    Puge Gamlin

    Is he wearing CGP grey shirt?

  • Gee purrs (Gee)
    Gee purrs (Gee)

    Ohhh, now I get it. He started a SVsoft channel to get laid. Which of course is why people want to be successful in the first place.

  • Boris Johnson
    Boris Johnson

    Excellent video, however could you please provide sources to these studies and experiments you mention? Thanks

  • zeNNoN999

    This means that you should not take advice from successful people.

  • Bollibompa

    Where are the references for studies cited in this video?

  • 3dgar 7eandro
    3dgar 7eandro

    Your channel is my 1st or 2nd science and overall favourite thanks for making this and other more complex topics easy to understand for everyone 😁👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👌🏻👌🏻

  • Samuel J
    Samuel J

    You make no sense, these are half ass arguments, your exploring 10 % of this topic and making assumptions and conclusions.

    • steve greystone
      steve greystone

      You make no sense when you use "your" instead of "you're".

  • dpactootle

    The harder you work, the luckier you get. But, is important to have balance and not waste all your time in the pursuit of money without taking breaks to "smell the roses", so to speak

  • Cornback Las Of Meredocity
    Cornback Las Of Meredocity

    Hard work always helps, so count on it always. Luck sometimes helps, so count on it sometimes.

  • Latrina Dorla
    Latrina Dorla

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  • Dhiraj reddy
    Dhiraj reddy

    here from ludwigs stream

    • BandUp x Dub
      BandUp x Dub


  • Lysergic Brainwave Thrawthingal Byeblathingal
    Lysergic Brainwave Thrawthingal Byeblathingal

    *Luck Counts, but don't count on it; count on not counting on Luck* (unless you know Falcore the Luck Dragon personally)

  • EmiOk

    Nice shirt it is cgp gray merch

  • Sundaresh Venugopal
    Sundaresh Venugopal

    Some of the pertinent questions worth asking in this regard are, does one have to work for everything good, or does one not have to work for everything good ? Is there any work at all that is worth doing, and if it indeed be worth doing , worth doing well ? Should you misuse your own heart to harbor feelings of ill will and hatred towards what is truly good but feelings of love towards what is truly evil ? Should you feed your heart with feelings of ill will toward good but good will toward evil? What you feed grows, and you accquire a taste and a liking and an appetite for it, and you continually feed more on it ? Is your diet truly healthy ? Should you misuse your own mind to think adulterous and evil thoughts ? Should you misuse your own body to commit deplorable and sinful acts ? Irrespective of, and independently of whether anyone else is a true scientist or not, you can always be one ?

  • SnarkyGnome

    That's a very complicated way of saying that you need both.

  • C M
    C M

    I've had no good luck and I don't work hard either, I'm probably screwed

  • bluebird

    Combination of both, but it is always nicer to be lucky.

  • A Noob Playing games
    A Noob Playing games

    I wanted someone who thinks like meee for so long

  • Cooking Parker
    Cooking Parker

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    Opal Hughes

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  • Maarten Verhees
    Maarten Verhees

    I like the 'how I met your mother' joke !!

  • Ali Usman
    Ali Usman

    I have left the book 'the alchemist for quite a long time, need to read it again.

  • EMPact

    tl;dr the american dream

  • Fonroo

    Dude just debunked capitalism with basic statistics. Nice

  • Blake Burton
    Blake Burton

    Shoutout to all January 8 birthdays who missed out on the NHL like me.

  • Sergio Hidalgo
    Sergio Hidalgo

    The more I work, The more lucky I am

  • Barrett Biggers
    Barrett Biggers

    Welcome to the Meritocracy!

  • Asta

    Luck gives u opportunities and hard work gives u happiness

  • Aryuzell

    Luck certainly is a big part of success. I live in a place of poverty but I had parents that supported and disciplined me through the years. They are the reason that today, at school, I am considered as one of the intelligent people and is deemed as good leader but everything I have achieved is because of my parents that I am very lucky to have.

  • ScarredRomeo

    As Deion Sanders used to say in an old commercial from the 1990s: "Both". You don't even really have to think that much about it. You can't choose where and when you're born, what potential skills you have, nor what you look like, all things that potentially effect you later on in life. My father was born in a small village in East Kashmir of a few hundred people with neither running water nor electricity back in the 1940s. Although his father was a teacher, his mother was uneducated and married at fifteen years old. He's now a retired doctor who served in the U.S. Army and lives in a $1.7 million dollar home in the U.S. He was foundationally responsible for bringing dozens of family members over from there via legitimate sponsorship to live better lives in the U.S. He worked hard to go from the village to the best medical college in his country at the time to become a doctor, but at the same time, the U.S. Army also gave him an opportunity because there was a shortage of doctors in the the service around the time he graduated in the early 1970s and they were looking in foreign countries for those who showed the potential to be good ones who could work for them. Had he not worked hard and had some luck too, it's quite possible that I wouldn't be living in the U.S. today and could still be in that small village in East Kashmir.