Happy Accidents #042 - Eric Partaker

Happy Accidents are his life!

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In this edition of the Happy Accidents newsletter, we're delving into the remarkable journey of Eric Partaker, a man whose life has been a series of unexpected twists and turns, each leading to extraordinary success.

Similar to Neal O’Grady’s story, Eric’s journey has seen one Happy Accident after another litter his path. And he’s been smart enough to capitalize on them each time.

From a strategy consultant to a tech enthusiast, an award-winning restaurateur, and now a flourishing CEO coach, Eric's story is a testament to the power of embracing serendipity.

Let's dig in, shall we?


This is the part of every Happy Accident story where we see every successful outcome starts with the person putting themselves in a favorable position. They work hard, they try new things, they meet new people. They're not just sitting around 'hoping' to be successful some day.

Eric, born of Norwegian and American heritage, embarked on his unconventional journey in Chicago. He grew up in the American city and fell in love with the great Mexican food there (more on this later…)

He had a desire to break into the management consulting industry with a major firm, but his path diverged from the traditional Ivy League backgrounds often associated with consulting careers.

But at the age of 22, he broke the mold and joined McKinsey and Company, thanks in part to a fateful connection at the University of Chicago's business school.


This is the part of every success story where there's a chance encounter, a serendipitous moment, an unintentional discovery (or Happy Accident) that paves the way for the next steps. In some cases, a Happy Accident can even be disguised as something bad in the moment.

One of the early chapters of Eric's story unfolded when he crossed paths with a friend from the Management Consulting Club.

Little did he know that this encounter would lead to a pivotal interview with McKinsey. Had it not been for this fortunate friendship, Eric might have missed the opportunity to kickstart his career in strategy consulting.

After eventually leaving McKinsey after a few years, another serendipitous turn occurred when Eric, an ardent Skype user with no tech background, set his sights on working for the company.

Initially rejected, he didn't give up. His perseverance paid off when Skype adjusted its job requirements and recognized Eric's dedication, including the fact that he wrote his cover letter on Christmas day!.

This twist of fate landed him the role and eventually propelled him into a senior role within Skype's business development division.

How cool is that? First a chance encounter with the right person lands him a job at McKinsey at 22 and then a serendipitous situation gets him a role at Skype, a company he had been admiring from afar until then.

(Eric reminded me when I interviewed him for the newsletter that Skype was cool back then 😉)


Just like Happy Accidents don't just fall into your lap (you need to set the stage first), they also don't turn into anything if you don't recognize them and take action. This is the part of every success story where we see people capitalizing on their Happy Accident.

The Skype journey didn't stop at personal growth. Eric's time there coincided with Skype's acquisition by eBay for a staggering $2.6 billion in 2005. This merger presented Eric with invaluable learning experiences and further solidified his career path.

However, like the first few chapters of his story, Eric's tale continued to have its share of plot twists.

Driven by a longing for the Mexican food of his childhood (I told you we’d come back to this), Eric eventually decided to leave the corporate world and ventured into the restaurant business.

Despite having no prior experience, Eric decide to open a chain of Mexican restaurants (Chilango) in London, England where he was living at the time with his wife.

What began as a passion project soon burgeoned into an award-winning chain of restaurants with Eric being named CEO of the Year at the 2019 Business Excellence Forum .

But fate had another turn in store; the COVID-19 pandemic struck, forcing Eric to make the difficult decision to sell his beloved restaurants.

But not one to be knocked down for too long, and drawing on his past experiences, Eric's resilience shone brightly.

He and his family left the UK for Portugal in search of a new beginning.

In early 2023, now with a thriving CEO coaching business, he faced a new challenge: scaling up.

This was where the Un-ignorable challenge, led by Katelyn Bourgoin and Neal O’Grady, came into play. Eric joined the first-ever cohort in January 2023, aiming to grow his LinkedIn audience to 5,000 by year-end.

In yet one more completely unexpected turn, Eric now finds himself with over 165K followers on LinkedIn, and on track for over 200K by the end of the year. It’s safe to say he has become completely ‘Un-ignorable’ on LinkedIn!

The Happy Accidents just keep coming his way, and he just keeps capitalizing on them when they do.


Eric Partaker's journey is a testament to the power of serendipity.

From starting as a strategy consultant without an Ivy League background to becoming a tech enthusiast, award-winning restaurateur, and flourishing CEO coach, each unplanned turn in his life has led to extraordinary success, proving that embracing unexpected opportunities can be a path to greatness.

Some fun facts:

  1. Eric and I first met when we were both a part of the first ever Un-ignorable cohort in January of 2023.

  2. Along with his large LinkedIn following, Eric has also grown his Peak Performance Insights newsletter to over 235K subscribers. You can subscribe for free here.

  3. Eric is also the author of the best selling leadership book, The 3 Alarms. You can grab a free copy using this link.

  4. His latest book, ‘Ultraproductive’ is being co-authored along with Dr. Christian Poensgen and due to come out in Q4 of 2023.

The lessons here:

  1. Embrace Unexpected Opportunities: Eric's story underscores the value of seizing opportunities that might not align with your initial plans.

  2. Resilience Matters: Adversity can strike at any point, but the ability to adapt and reinvent oneself is crucial.

  3. Perseverance Pays Off: Rejections and setbacks can be stepping stones to success; persistence often leads to breakthroughs.

  4. Networking is Key: Building meaningful connections, like Eric's friendship in business school, can open doors you never imagined.

YOUR Happy Accidents

Check out this post from Luke Shalom about how he’s been putting in the reps every day, building his personal brand, and letting luck find him.

Hey, Dennis Geelen here. Author of the Happy Accidents newsletter.

Are you looking to bet on yourself? Here're a few ways I can help:

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