The Opportunity Universe: A Framework for Winning in Life

Introducing the Opportunity Universe

First, I’d like to introduce a term I coined: The “Opportunity Universe.” It is a very valuable tool for visualising the concept of possibilities. The easiest way to think about this is as a cloud in the sky. Each of the rain droplets in this cloud represents one of the opportunities you could pursue. Mathematically speaking, it’s the set of all options at your disposal.

Expand your Opportunity Universe

There are two ways to do this: On the one hand, you can increase your awareness level of opportunities already at your disposal. Practically, you can do this in a number of ways, but to name a few:

  1. Personally, I use an app called Todoist for writing down all the ideas which come to my mind during the week. Every Monday, I take time to go through all of the ideas and put them in buckets such as “Start-up Ideas,” “Personal Development” and “Social Media Ideas.”
  2. I read about another way in Tim Ferriss’s 2016 book Tools of Titans: Make some time each morning to write down five ideas. I think this can work really well because in the morning you have less decision fatigue and a fresh mind.
  3. Finally, there is the sledgehammer approach of using mind-altering substances that may aid you in increasing your creativity and hence your awareness level. Although I do not advocate this approach due to the obvious risks involved, there seems to be anecdotal evidence that it may do wonders in terms of driving creativity.
  1. This can be done through reading and desk research. Remember from my previous article that knowledge works as a network, so the more knowledge you accumulate, the more clarity you will have on your Opportunity Universe..
  2. On the other hand, you can turn to external sources (friends, colleagues, mentors, etc.) and ask them to point you to opportunities they think could be a good fit.

Pick the right opportunity

Actually, as of today, I have a list of over 500 business ideas, many more than I can potentially hope to build in my lifetime. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that you should pick an opportunity at the intersection of the following criteria:

  1. Your personal USP
  2. A market opportunity
  3. Your passion

1. Find your personal USP .

I hold the opinion that, similar to a business, each individual needs to find her value proposition relative to her peers in the market. The most obvious way to do this is honing one skill and becoming the best in the world at this skill. It’s a nice story, but becoming the best in the world at anything is a pretty tall order.

  1. Ask yourself: What is easy for me that many other people always complain is hard for them?
  2. Ask 5 of your closest friends and 5 people you don’t know so well (such as your boss, instructor or professor) on feedback about your strengths.
  3. Think about past performance reviews. In what aspects of your job did you perform exceptionally well?
  4. Use personality assessment tests such as the Myers-Briggs test or the Ocean model.

2. Identify the right market opportunity.

Investors have pointed extensively to the fact that a start-up needs to establish product-market fit to be successful. I argue that the same holds true for your personal life. In fact, you are the CEO of your career, which is like an enterprise you are running. Thus, you need to find an opportunity that shows demand for your services and also willingness to pay. While this is sufficient to earn a living, for surpassing average results, you need to go further:

3. Follow your passion.

I will argue in a future article that it’s paramount to reach flow state to achieve exceptional performance and results. One of the most obvious ways to achieve this is following your passion. Yet, many famous people like Mark Cuban claim that following your passion is bad advice. I partially agree, and I say that you should only follow your passion if it matches your capabilities and a market opportunity. But if you can establish this fit, it will enable you to have a career full of meaning, drive and motivation.

Wrap-up

Let’s review how the concept of an Opportunity Universe can help you identify the best options to pursue when it comes to entrepreneurial or career possibilities:

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Christian A. Schröder

Christian A. Schröder

Founder & CEO of 10x Value Partners. One of the world’s most successful angel investors. Follow me to learn my secrets.