How to Become an Overnight Sensation…

Madonna is really talented. It doesn’t matter what you think of her. You don’t get to sell 300 million records over 30 years without doing something right.  

I like her. Not so much the singles, but the albums. I remember reading an interview with her. She said something along the lines of “I was an overnight sensation…after ten years of grinding hard work.”

Express Yourself…

You’ll probably be aware of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”.

Here’s the summary – it takes 10,000 hours of effort to reach your peak. That’s 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for a decade, by my reckoning. Do that and you reach your peak…your talent level, whatever it may be, will be fully exploited.


It doesn’t mean you can be the world’s best. Although it might. It does mean you can realise your potential.

Most people won’t make it because they won’t put the work in. They’ll give up before the success comes.

Madonna’s 30 year anniversary of her first single co-incides with my 5th anniversary of being in business. My self-employed-dom is now 20% of my working life. 20 years corporate flim-flammery. 5 years self-employedness.  

Into the Groove…

I think I’ve done about 8,000 hours on the coaching thing, having started way before leaving corporations.

I think I’ve done about 3,000 hours on the marketing thing, having started only 5 years ago. 

I think I’ve done about 1,000 hours on the “thinking big like a real business guy and not a small business guy” thing.

I am not the person I was 5 years ago. I have grown more in the last 5 years than in any other 5 year period.

I have stuck at it and I have constantly pushed myself to learn new stuff, see further, experience more stuff, be in it to win it. I have never allowed myself to be comfortable although I have often been tempted.  

Lucky Star…

If I had the choice between being a) supremely talented and lazy or b) averagely talented and a worker, I’d choose the latter. Because the talent is nothing without the work. If you can do your 10K hours you will be successful, unless you are delusional about your talents (yeah I’m talking to you Bob Geldoff – music is not your forte).

The vast majority of the really talented people gave up years ago. They faded away. One day, they just never turned up.

But it’s not just any old 10K hours. The sports guys will say to you that it’s not practice that makes perfect (taxi drivers demonstrate the truth in this); it’s perfect practice that makes perfect. You have to be strategic in what you do. You have to focus on high-payoff activities (of course) but you also have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone… learn new stuff, see further, experience more stuff, be in it to win it…

I am afraid if you work in an organisation, even if it’s your own, most of the hours you spend will not contribute towards the 10,000 hours target. They will be wasted on your boss, your email, the phone etc etc – the battalions of distractions.

Ray of Light…

What will contribute to your 10,000 hours target is your high-payoff activities and anything you do (that’s do, not think about doing) that is strategic, e.g. get great at marketing, take yourself out of the critical path, work out what’s stopping you being twice as big/effective/choose-your-adjective and take care of it like a pro manager not a hobbyist. 

Do this stuff for 10,000 hours and when you take a breath and lift your head and look around you, you will find that you are a) not in a crowd and b) a huge success.

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