How to use the Right Number and be Lucky in Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

Today is my 13th. wedding anniversary. Some people consider 13 to be an unlucky number, but I have to say that wasn’t the case, as far as the past year was concerned. Sue and I ticked along as normal and, I’m happy to say, nothing untoward happened in our lives (Unlike 2015 which, to quote Her Majesty the Queen, was our “annus horribillis”). 

I wondered why the number 13 is considered unlucky, in certain countries, so I turned to Wikipedia to find some answers:   “The end of the Mayan calendar's 13th Baktun was superstitiously feared as a harbinger of the apocalyptic 2012 phenomenon. It is also considered unlucky to have thirteen guests at a table and any Friday the 13th has been considered an unlucky day. 

In fact, there are a number of theories as to why the number thirteen became associated with bad luck:

The Last Supper: At Jesus Christ’s last supper, there were thirteen people around the table, counting Christ and the twelve apostles. Some believe this is unlucky because one of those thirteen, Judas Iscariot, was the betrayer of Jesus Christ.

Knights Templar: On Friday 13 October 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar and most of the knights were tortured and killed.

Full Moons: A year with 13 full moons instead of 12 posed problems for the monks in charge of the calendars. This was considered a very unfortunate circumstance, especially by the monks who had charge of the calendar of thirteen months for that year, and it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. For this reason thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number. 

Fear of the number 13 has a specifically recognized phobia, Triskaidekaphobia, a word coined in 1911. The superstitious sufferers of triskaidekaphobia try to avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled thirteen. As a result, companies and manufacturers use another way of numbering or labeling to avoid the number, with hotels and tall buildings being conspicuous examples. Some will not have a thirteenth floor and hence no 13 button on their elevators.” 

Zoopla  found that more than a quarter (28%) of streets in the UK don't have a number 13 address, and some local councils have banned the use of number 13 in new housing developments. But while new streets can be built without a number 13, changing or removing it from an existing property is against the law.

In sports, the number 13 has a mixed reception: The number 13 was not used in the Indianapolis500 from 1915 to 2002.E.J.Viso, driving for HVM Racing, the 2009 IndyCar series season, drove a green number 13 car full-time, despite terrible superstitions about it in motor sports. The number 13 was not used in Formula One from 1977 to 2013. In triathlon, the number 13 is not used. As such, the numbering goes 11, 12, 14, 15 under the current numbering system. 

In some countries, different numbers are thought to be unlucky:  In China, the pronunciation of the word for the number 4 is similar to that of the Chinese word for death. Many buildings in China skip a fourth floor.  The number 9 is feared in Japan because it sounds similar to the Japanese word for torture or suffering. 

So, one might want to consider some of these facts if you have employees from overseas. Could you find out about unlucky numbers in other cultures? Also, if you have customers from those countries might it be worth avoiding days with certain numbers for doing business?   

Of course, one might also bear in mind the fact that countries, traditionally, have their lucky numbers, too. For instance, in China, the numbers 3 and 8 are very lucky are associated with wealth and prosperity. Could this mean the 8th. is a great day to conduct business with your Chinese clients? Who knows? 

And, not everyone considers the number 13 to be unlucky. In Italy, for example, it is considered good luck (whereas some Italians are superstitious about Friday the 17th because rearranging the Roman numeral XVII can create the word "VIXI"—translated from Latin to mean "my life is over").   

In the United States along with the UK, France, and the Netherlands the number 7 is considered to be lucky and, if you happen to know a Star Wars fan, remember to wish them a Happy May the 4th! 

Whatever your views on these numbers that may or may not be considered lucky or unlucky, in the workplace, it may just be worthwhile being sensitive to some of these beliefs and superstitions. 

As for me I’m going to celebrate my Anniversary by taking my wife out to lunch and remember the wonderful day we married –and today’s date?............. 9/11.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, is being released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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