Luck — The BILLY Defined Series | BILLY Footwear

If you've never been to Alaska you have to take the time to visit sometime in your life. As the state slogan goes, which is also written on their license plates, it is The Last Frontier. And everything is just bigger—the mountains, the waters, and the beasts that fill both. 

Years ago my now wife and I had the opportunity to visit some dear friends, who purchased an old cannery on Chisik Island, which is across the Cook Inlet from the city of Kenai. On this particular adventure, we were out in a dory, which is a small, shallow-draft boat, a few hundred yards off the shores of the cannery fishing for halibut. It was me, Hillary, and Eli, who is one of the friends we were visiting. With a halibut reel in one hand and a can of beer in the other, we each sat and waited for a creature from the deep to strike. And strike one did.

"What do I do with my beer?" exclaims Hillary as a fish of substantial size is obviously on her line. Once that initial crisis was solved, Hillary began to pull in the fish as Eli coached her along. After about a five minute struggle and a near mishandling of the gaff hook, we had a 60lb halibut flopping around in our boat.

When I typically retell this tale, I often attribute the catching of Hillary's fish to her remarkable skill and extensive knowledge of deep-sea fishing. It adds even more flavor to the story. But truth be told, it was Hillary's first time halibut fishing and there was no skill involved—the fish chose Hillary's line by chance. It could have just as easily chose my line or Eli's. Can you say, beginner's luck?

Luck is defined as success brought by chance when the probability is not in your favor. Luck can feel completely random but I would argue that luck cannot occur without your help in making the condition for luck possible. What do I mean by that? Well, let me give you two examples.

Say you go to a baseball game and want to catch a foul ball. The likelihood of the ball actually coming directly to you is low, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. But that said, in order to make the condition even possible you first had to choose to go to a game and choose to sit in a seat conducive for catching fouls.

Likewise, say you want to win the lottery. I'm sorry to say, the probability is crazy low that your number will be chosen but you have no chance whatsoever if you do not buy a ticket.

Luck requires some action from you on the front end. Just like for Hillary, to catch her fish she had to first put her fishing line in the water.

As for BILLY Footwear, luck found us in February of 2015. It began with a very strange email that I received and dismissed as spam. A couple of days later I was hit up again by the same individual, who also sought me out via Facebook. The sender was from a casting firm seeking applicants for an entrepreneurial television show on the Oxygen channel. Long story short, I replied to his request and we ultimately ended up making it on the show, which became the catalyst that got us to where we are today with our shoes.

And why on earth did the casting firm reach out to us in the first place? Well, I think it was because of two reasons. To start, when Darin and I co-founded our company we always knew that shoes were our target. But given all that goes into creating a shoe line, we began with something simpler. And that simpler product was a ski glove, which resulted in a very successful Kickstarter campaign ( The casting firm saw our Kickstarter success and reached out wanting to know more.

As for the second reason to why the casting firm reaching out, it was luck.

Yes we were very lucky to have the casting firm call us, but they never would have made the call in the first place had we not already taken action to get in the right position. It took a tremendous amount of work and over two years to navigate through our glove evolution. There were numerous challenges along the way. But with continued perseverance and overwhelming generosity from so many supporters we finally got our first batch of gloves manufactured. It was a journey, and well worth it. And as luck would have it, the gloves were indeed the stepping stone to something bigger as we had hoped for all along.

Luck is a game of chance. If you are feeling unlucky, remember that each time you're knocked down it is an opportunity to rise. Take the action to position yourself with a better probability of a positive outcome and good luck will find you. It's only a matter of time. But when luck strikes, you may need to respond immediately. And that response at a minimum may require you to find a place to put down your beer.
(Pictured above is me, my wife and her 60lb trophy on the shores of Chisik Island in Alaska)
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1 comment

Thank you for sharing this tale. Alaska is amazing and once you go, you keep dreaming of returning. Thank you also for your amazing creativity.

Kelly Flaherty

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