The Secret to Becoming an Overnight Success

The Secret to Becoming an Overnight Success

You know who I’m talking about – those people who suddenly burst out like instant celebrities. Sure, you’ve noticed these people from time to time before, but they didn’t seem like anyone special or important, so you moved on.

Now they’re everywhere.

More than that – they’re getting LOTS of attention. A-Listers are talking them up like they’re the next best thing to a great Shiraz. They’re getting comment after comment on their posts and seem to strike up a conversation with anyone they please.

They’re IN the “in-crowd”. They own it.

And yet, just a little while back, they were… well, nobody special.

You think to yourself: How’d they DO that? How can I do that myself?

Here’s the secret:

It didn’t happen overnight.

NO ONE is a true overnight success. From rags to riches in a day? Not gonna happen. Not even to all those people you can point to and say, “But so-and-so did it…”

No. So-and-so didn’t.

Before becoming an overnight success, so-and-so made a crucial decision: to go after what he wanted. To work at it hard. To pursue it. To put in the time, the energy and the effort.

Then so-and-so actually began the process. He followed through.

No one notices so-and-so and his work in the beginning. He isn’t a recognized household name. He isn’t a popular innovator of some awesome product. He doesn’t have a big list of fans or followers or important networking contacts.

He starts with nothing but him, his idea and his work.

Then one day, someone notices. Someone pays attention. Someone points this so-and-so out to someone else. And so the attention begins to spread.

All of a sudden, Mr. So-and-so gets noticed by more people, and more, and more until there’s an avalanche of attention coming his way. Out of the blue. As if this person sprung out of nowhere.

Overnight, even.

But the only thing that truly happened overnight was the willingness to try and the decision to put in the work. And that’s something anyone can do.

Why not you?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. There is a great quote about this from a journalist I can’t remember:

    “It took me 15 years to become an overnight success.”

    Great post James.


    • Ramsay, we think alike. I too kept trying to think of the same quote. I Googled and all kinds of good quotes came up.

      It was Eddy Canton (singer 1892-1964) who said, “It takes 20 years to become an overnight success.”

      Lyndon B. Johnson said: “Son, in politics you’ve got to learn that overnight chicken shit can turn to chicken salad.” I thought that was funny. I hope the politicians today can turn our mess into a nutritious chicken salad–one chicken at a time, eh?

  2. Not just anyone, someone who has the guts, drive and determination to succeed.

  3. Why not indeed 🙂

  4. Well said, James . . . To become successful, you have to work you ass off — no exceptions (sorry, guys.)

  5. *your

  6. Well said, James. And by the way, the only reason I want to be an overnight success is so I can wear shiny, burgundy riding boots.

  7. I may be the next so, so, so and so.

    Aha! See? Now I have your attention. 🙂

  8. Well, I guess there’s always an exception – like, if you’re one of the owner of the winning ticket in the biggest powerball lottery in history. Now, that’s overnight success that even the IRS can’t resist.

  9. Thanks. Nicely said. You remind me: Movie producer Sam Goldwyn once said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”, and Thomas Jefferson once said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

  10. Tom Southern says:

    What you do in the dawn before you break is cultivate relationships with people who can elevate you.

    In blogging this means getting to know popular bloggers and building relationships with them. That’s the getting noticed part. Hard work, diligence and integrity play big parts in this. Study what they like and then emulate it. Write posts about topics you think they’ll like, let them know what you’ve done and ask them to share it with their readers and their followers on twitter. Or simply, ask their opinion.

    You’ve got to be genuine. Just going after a popular blogger because he or she can catapult you into the stratosphere won’t cut it. They’ll find you out; them and their followers, and bring you crashing down.

    You have to be selective. You have to be genuine. You have to work hard and, you have to study the market.

    You have to build your list too. As early as possible start building your list.

    Plan your launch when you feel your list is big enough and your relationships are strong enough that they’ll be there to spread the word.


    Overnight success? Fame, fortune?

    That’s up to you.


  11. Overnight success could easily happen if we change our definition of success. Every time I check off an item on my to-do list, I feel successful. It’s the accumulation of all those teeny-tiny success (that could happen overnight) that lead to that gigantic success of international fame and riches (which doesn’t happen overnight).

  12. When I become an overnight success I’m going to get a trampoline room. They’re the new thing don’t you know.

    In the meantime, I’m just making decisions about what matters.

  13. I don’t want to be an overnight success. I want lasting success that doesn’t shrivel up and die.


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