MJ DeMarco's gumball machine

. 2 min read

In addition to making these three videos for the Worth in Progress YouTube channel, I'd like to talk a little more about MJ DeMarco - particularly one specific success metaphor he shares in his book, Unscripted. MJ DeMarco is a self-made millionaire, serial entrepreneur, and a bestselling author of two books - the one mentioned above and The Millionaire Fastlane. So he knows what he's talking about when he talks about success and makes metaphors of it. I shall rephrase the metaphor in my own words - for the original version, buy and read the book. (It's more than worth your money.)

Life is a gumball machine. It has white, orange, red, and golden gumballs in it. You can insert a coin, twist the handle, and a gumball comes out of the tube. Most gumballs are white. Then there are a few orange and red ones, and only one or two golden balls in the machine.

The white gumballs symbolize business ventures you try to make work but don't yield any adequate feedback for iterating the product or service your venture offers. Red gumballs symbolize ventures that generate negative feedback, according to which you can either better your product or service, or give up the venture as a failed idea. Orange gumballs symbolize positive feedback - your business starts to generate income, people like your product, but it's not a massive success. Golden gumballs symbolize the jackpot - a venture that masses and masses of people respond to, for example if you solve a problem millions of people have. A golden gumball makes you rich.

There are two lessons to this metaphor. One is that you can increase the odds of getting a golden gumball by honoring the CENTS commandments DeMarco explains in both of his books.

Another is that if you keep inserting coins, a golden gumball is bound to emerge eventually.

It sure is easier never to insert a single coin, aka never to commit to a business venture. You have nothing to lose if you have nothing to gain. But you'll never get a single gumball, and you'll never know if there were a golden one just waiting by the hatch.

The more coins you put into the machine, the greater the chance of success. Keep doing it long enough, and you're going to get a lot of white ones, and a few red ones, a few orange ones, and, eventually, at a completely random moment, a golden one.

Keep faith despite the white gumballs. Try, fail, try again. The price will be worth it.