Have you ever wondered how Simon Cowell developed the Midas touch? Or how Mo Farah won two Olympic golds? Curious to know how Barack Obama focuses before an election? How Marilyn Monroe always looked so glamorous? Or how Dan Brown pens his latest bestseller?

Packed full of entertaining trivia and hilarious anecdotes, Get Lucky chronicles the luck rituals of the great and the good. From sports stars and celebrities to writers, tastemakers and multi-millionaires, this book exposes the unusual habits and superstitions behind their success. Read on and be inspired. You never know, some of their luck might just rub off on you...



About the Book

Title Page


Moises Alou: Wee on your Hands

Maya Angelou: Treat me Mean

Lance Armstrong: Don’t Make him Cross

Russell Baker: Baker’s Rules

Christian Bale: Bring it on, Says Bale

Count Balthus Klossowski: Balthus’s Baccy

Honoré de Balzac: Cup of Coffee? Don’t Mind if I do

David Beckham: Captain Cans the Cans

Justin Bieber: Justin Goes Jewish

Marc Blake: Bug your Family

Laurent Blanc: Blanc’s French Kiss

Wade Anthony Boggs: Chicken at First Base

Björn Borg: Borg’s Bushy Beard

Sir Richard Branson: Branson’s Black Book

Dan Brown: Brown Goes Upside Down

Warren Buffett: Better than Buffett

Julia Cameron: The Morning Pages

Truman Capote: The Horizontal Habit

John Cheever: Cheever’s Changeover

Kenneth Irvine Chenault: One, Two, Three …

Churchill & Blair: The Naked Truth

Kim Clijsters: Uncle’s Ugly Strides

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette: Hopping Mad

Simon Cowell: Cowell’s Invisible Signs

Johan Cruyff: Cruyff’s Thumping Dutch Courage

Ellen DeGeneres: Ellen’s Advice?

Demosthenes: Discipline – Demosthenes Style

Charles Dickens: Chas’s Northward Kip

Noel Edmonds: Noel’s Winning Cards

Paul Erdős: Uppers Plus Uppers …

Mo Farah: A Double Espress-Mo

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tender is the Gin

Benjamin Franklin: Assess your Day

George Gershwin: Pjs at the Piano

Jason Giambi: You Can’t Go Thong

Shay Given: Holy Water is a Given

Chris Gorman: A Kid in a Sweet Shop

Sergio Goycochea: Pee is for Penalty

Glenn Hall: When Chunder Strikes

Knut Hamsun: Knut’s Night Notes

Kate Hansen: Put a Medal on it!

Sahar Hashemi: Review your Goals

Audrey Hepburn: And the Winner is …

Henrik Ibsen: How to Hang your Rival

Paul Ince: Ince’s Shirty Tarry

David James: Keeping Quiet

Steve Jobs: Jobs’ Jumpers

Tom Keene: The Rule of Five

Stephen King: An Open and Shut Case

Heidi Klum: Fangs for the Memory

Danell Leyva: Leyva’s Lucky Towel

Gary Lineker: Gary’s Goal Preservation

David Lynch: Lynches Who Lunch

James McAvoy: White Rabbits!

John McCain: McCain’s Mythology

Archibald Renwick Macaulay: Some Red-Hot Tips

Lyoto Machida: Taking the …

Lashit Malinga: Kissing the Ball

Curtis Martin: Psalm Like it Hot

Lionel Messi: Messi’s Meditation

Les Miles: Grubbing on Grass

Minnie Minoso: Minoso’s Shower

Marilyn Monroe: Down at Heel

Bobby Moore: Bobby Gets Caught Short

Alex Morgan: Left Before Right

Barack Obama: The Audacity of Hoops

Otto of Bavaria: How Un-Peasant

Ann Patchett: Joining the Dots

Philip Pullman: It Takes Two, Baby

Pepe Reina: Pepe’s Petrol Patrol

Anne Rice: Write at Night

Stephanie Rice: Swing, Press and Touch

Sanya Richards-Ross: The Bullet Sprinter

Frederick McFeely Rogers: As Easy as 1, 4, 3 …

Mitt Romney: Mitt’s Tribute to Dad

Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Terror of 13

Patrick Roy: The Shrinking Saint

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller: Oh, you Rotten Thing

Ariel Sharon: Look Back to Move Forward

Dame Edith Sitwell: How to Lie Well

Evelyn Stevens: The Magic Bra

Jason Terry: Short and Quirkies

John Terry: Very Superstitious

Nikola Tesla: Staying Awake

Benicio del Toro: Wood you Believe it?

Mark Twain: Marking Twain’s Words

Steven Tyler: Rocky Raccoon

Brian Urlacher: Country and Cookies

Leonardo da Vinci: That’s a Nap, Folks!

Voltaire: The Naked Truth

Steven John ‘Turk’ Wendell: Turk a Look at this Lot

Paul West: West Hits the ‘Repeat’ Button

Kate White: The Bar of Ideas

Serena Williams: Check the Bounces

The Detroit Red Wings: Hurl an Octopus

Thomas Wolfe: A Helping Hand

Tiger Woods: The Red Eye of the Tiger

John Lloyd Young: Beat Yourself Up

Asif Ali Zardari: Zardari Got Their Goat

Renée Zellweger: Ice, Ice, Baby …

About the Author

Also by Chas Newkey-Burden



Also by Chas Newkey-Burden

The Reduced History of Britain

The Reduced History of Dogs

Great Email Disasters

The All-New Official Arsenal Miscellany

Amy Winehouse: The Biography

Help! I’m Turning Into My Dad!

The Dog Directory

Simon Cowell: The Unauthorized Biography

Adele: The Biography

Taylor Swift: The Whole Story


The purpose of this book is to entertain, inform and inspire. It is packed with tips that are motivating, thought-provoking and, in some cases, downright eccentric.

In the pages that follow, you will discover the tricks and quirks of some of history’s most accomplished and revered figures, including Audrey Hepburn, Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Maya Angelou and Charles Dickens.

You will find out, too, which leading crime novelist scribbled his way to international fame while lying down with a martini; which globally bestselling author hangs upside down for inspiration; and the identity of the leading philosopher who used the naked back of his lover as a writing desk.

Read about the novelist who would drink a heart-thumping fifty cups of coffee in a day; the screenwriter who secretly records his family’s conversations for inspiration; and the sportsman who concluded that urinating over his own hands was the route to success.

So if you want to know how Franklin Delano Roosevelt rose to the top job in American politics, how Sir Richard Branson became a multi-billionaire or how Marilyn Monroe always looked so glamorous, you have come to the right place. This is a feast of top tips from the rich and famous.

Many of us have compiled a fantasy line-up for a dinner party of famous guests. As our imagination races, we conjure up raucous evenings, in which iconic figures regale us with their charm and anecdotes as the wine flows.

Yet which among us would be able to resist asking our famous guests for just one nugget of advice? Well, in Get Lucky you can read such nuggets from one hundred celebrated figures from the past and present.

Lucky you …

Chas Newkey-Burden, summer 2014



Moises Alou played 1,942 games during his seventeen-season career in Major League Baseball. During his playing years he represented a number of sides, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets.


You might be surprised to learn how many sportsmen have pee-centred rituals. Look at Sergio Goycochea (here) and Lyoto Machida (here). Baseball player Moises Alou took to urinating over his own hands as a success technique during his seventeen years in the National League. The Dominican-American outfielder explained that he took this strange step to toughen up the skin on his hands and to prevent calluses. This allowed him, he said, to strike the ball without having to use batting gloves. The ritual acquired new disciples, including New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who gushed about the benefits of it. But he added a cautionary note: ‘You don’t want to shake my hand during spring training.’



An author and poet, Maya Angelou wrote celebrated works including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and On the Pulse of Morning. She was also a respected civil rights activist and a powerful speaker.


Maya Angelou hired a hotel room in which she wrote. However, this was not some palatial den of indulgence. Instead, for Angelou, less was more. Describing her writing room as ‘mean’, she explained that it contained no more furniture than a bed and a washbasin. In the room, she kept two books – a dictionary and a Bible – together with a bottle of sherry and a deck of cards. For her, these surroundings and props were the route to literary productivity. While she kept her writing room as sparse and simple as possible to maintain focus, she kept her home ‘very pretty’. She normally arrived at the room around 7 a.m., having woken as early as 5.30 a.m.



Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005. However, since retiring from the sport, the cancer survivor has admitted to doping and been stripped of those titles.