There are many ways to become famous overnight. A couple of weeks ago I told you about how Christina Perri went from working at a cafe one day to becoming an "overnight" sensation the very next. The secret to success for Christina or any artist, creative, job seeker, or entrepreneur is the same -- it's the necessity to shift from hoping, wishing, and wanting to doing.
But what happens if you've been doing the doing thing for awhile after hours and you're still not successful? You can either give up or keep on creating.
If you don't absolutely love what you're creating, don't bother. The most successful creators are those that can't help but create because they love the process. If you're working on your project and it feels like a job more than a privilege, do something else. You already have a day job; you don't need a second job when you get home.
On the other hand, if you enjoy creating but are getting discouraged because you're not seeing results, the solution is to keep creating, writing, inventing, building, painting, or pursuing.
Craig Benzine was a waiter in Chicago. No, scratch that. Craig worked as a waiter in Chicago. Serving food was his job. That's not who he was. In fact, behind his waiter uniform and coy grin was a video producer bursting to come out. Did he complain about having to wait tables for a living? Probably, but he did more than complain. Craig channeled Charles Bronson and decided to take matters into his own hands.
"I was frustrated waiting tables when I knew I could make video," says Craig. His goal was to ditch his waiter job and get a job producing videos. The problem, as Craig tells it, was that "I didn't have any professional experience or a portfolio of work, so I decided to make stuff on my own for free."
Craig started creating short and entertaining YouTube videos that showcased his video production skills under the moniker Wheezy Waiter. Month after month he'd work on these videos in his limited free time. After five months, he was introduced to a firm that needed a corporate video producer. Fortunately, he had put in the time to build his portfolio. "They watched my videos and basically hired me over the phone," Craig recalls.
So far so good, but it gets better -- actually it gets worse before it gets better. Craig realized that his passion wasn't necessarily video -- that was the medium -- his passion was to entertain people. So he continued to create hilarious YouTube videos while working a full-time day job. Success was slow to come, however.
The day he uploaded his 100th video to YouTube, he had just 32 subscribers. Each of his two or three minute videos can take between three to six hours to create, so you can appreciate the magnitude of creating 100 of these - it took a year and a half and countless hours of work.
During my interrogation, I tried to break him. "After years and 100 videos you only had 32 subscribers? Wasn't that frustrating? What kept you going? Didn't you feel like giving up?" The Wheezy Waiter, while slightly out breath, wouldn't have any of it. He shot back, "My friends liked it. My family liked it. I thought, 'If they all like it why can't everyone like it?' I knew I could get an audience."
In fact, he wasn't discouraged, he was thrilled. "What I always wanted to do is entertain," he said. "If I can get 100 people watching my work that's great. I'm going to keep going and keep trying to entertain them."
Turns out his family and friends were right. He's hilariously entertaining and now has almost 150,000 YouTube subscribers - that's more viewers than Jersey Shore gets. Okay, maybe not quite that many, but Craig's work is far more entertaining. He has such a large and passionate following that just last month he has been able to quit his job and support himself (granted, he saves a ton on razors) through his YouTube videos.
The takeaway? Stop focusing on instant success and reading columns on how to get famous overnight. Instead, create because you can't imagine doing anything else.
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