cover image The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

Christian Busch. Riverhead, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-08602-5

Busch, director of the Global Economy Program at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, promises a guide “for deciphering, creating, and cultivating serendipity, step by step” in his underwhelming debut. Unfortunately, the promise remains largely unfulfilled because, as Busch notes, “by definition, serendipity is not controllable, let alone predictable.” He consequently rechristens serendipity “smart luck” and claims one can at least “develop the conditions” and see “potentially transformative coincidences” when they occur. Cherry-picked examples, such as a woman who finds a new job through update emails to her friends, and the CEO of a struggling company who lands funding after challenging a job applicant to bring in a contract, illustrate the importance of “connecting the dots,” “reframing how we look at the world,” and “showing empathy, curiosity, and an ability to listen,” but offer scant persuasive power. While references to social science and business research, such as Harvard organizational learning professor Amy Edmondson’s illuminating research into “psychological safety” as a performance indicator in corporate culture, are helpful, they again offer broadly illustrative rather than instructive authority. Only those already convinced of the power of positive thinking will be swayed by this work. (June)