Friday, May 25 , 2018, 6:58 am | Fair 49º


John Daly: Famous People, and the ‘Simple Secrets’ to Success

I’ve been thinking about how I can impress on our young people the simple secrets to success.

It is simple, right? There is no magic formula. Just hard work, persistence and knowing that at any given point in life things will change. In other words, “This too shall pass.” Hard times and good times don’t last forever.

I know. I’ve been there. Each of us can easily flub up the “good times.” At the same time, we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and go from the bottom to the top.

Don’t take my word for it! Here are some practical, true-life stories that support the theory that hard work, persistence and knowing that “this too will pass” are the simple secrets to success!

» Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, dropped out of Harvard to start his company. He had an idea what he was getting into. People like to believe he was the “Right man at the Right place at the Right time.” But he worked hard and didn’t give up his dream.

» Michael Jordan had prodigious physical gifts. But as his long-time coach Phil Jackson wrote: “It was hard work that made him a legend. When Jordan first entered the league, his jump shot wasn’t good enough. He spent his off-season taking hundreds of jumpers a day until it was perfect.” In a piece at, Jackson writes that Jordan’s defining characteristic wasn’t his talent, but having the humility to know he had to work constantly to be the best.

» Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Roy Halladay is one of the hardest-working men in baseball. According to Sports Illustrated, he routinely puts in a 90-minute workout before his teammates make it to the field. His former pitching coach told SI that when other pitchers attempted one of his workouts, none of them could complete half of it.

» American Idol host Ryan Seacrest told The New York Times that even as a young child, his goal was to be a “a classic iconic broadcaster.” He’s moved toward that goal by taking on a preposterous workload. In addition to hosting American Idol, Seacrest appears seven days a week on E!, hosts a daily radio show from 5 to 10 a.m., appears on the Today show, runs a television production company, and recently received $300 million in private-equity funding to acquire more businesses.

» Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is known for her incredible stamina and work schedule. She used to put in 130 hour weeks at Google. She told Joseph Walker of The Wall Street Journal that she managed that schedule by sleeping under her desk and being “strategic” about her showers. Even people critical of her management style acknowledge that she “will literally work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” That paid off with one of the biggest jobs in technology.

» At first glance, the amazing success of Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneur Mark Cuban looks like a stroke of luck. He sold his first company at the peak of its value, and got into technology stocks at exactly the right time. Cuban writes on his blog that it took an incredible amount of work to benefit from his luck. When starting his first company, he routinely stayed up until 2 in the morning reading about new software, and went seven years without a vacation.

» Steve Jobs left incredibly big shoes for Tim Cook to fill at Apple. However, the man got the top job for a reason. He had always been a workaholic. Fortune reports that he began sending emails at 4:30 in the morning. A profile in Gawker revealed that he was the first in the office and last to leave. He used to hold staff meetings on Sunday night in order to prepare for Monday.

» While Henry Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Co.

» Today Disney rakes in billions of dollars from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.

» Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks, such as being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV.”

» Just about everybody knows who Jerry Seinfeld is, but the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage. Seinfeld knew he could do it, so he went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and applause, and the rest is history.

» While today Steven Spielberg’s name is synonymous with big budget, he was rejected from the USC film school three times. He eventually attended school at another location, only to drop out to become a director before finishing. Thirty-five years after starting his degree, Spielberg returned to school in 2002 to finally complete his work and earn his BA.

» J.K. Rowling may be rolling in a lot of Harry Potter dough today, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.

» As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis Presley has become a household name even years after his death. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired him after just one performance telling him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

» In his first film, Harrison Ford was told by the movie execs that he simply didn’t have what it takes to be a star. Today, with numerous hits under his belt, iconic portrayals of characters like Han Solo and Indiana Jones, and a career that stretches decades, Ford can proudly show that he does, in fact, have what it takes.

My point isn’t to get our youth to work 24/7. But even if this persistent work ethic inspires them to have a “yes, I can attitude” and a will to succeed, then they will have adopted the simple secrets to success.

Hard Work and Persistence Pay Off

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John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. If you have questions about business or social etiquette, just ask John at [email protected]. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjrClick here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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