Success is Dead; Long Live Success!

If you’ve watched any TV in the last few years, you are almost certainly familiar with the four fellas above; they’re the “Pawn Stars.”  By all accounts, they’re extremely successful.  Since their show began airing, they have expanded their showroom, went from 100 to over 1,000 customers a day, and hired 30 more staff members in order to handle those customers.

The cast of the show recently signed a 4 year, 80-episode deal, which, using conservative estimates for the earnings of reality stars, means 4-8 MILLION dollars for each of them over the next 4 years just from filming the show.

All that said, I don’t consider them successful, and neither should you.

Sure, Chumlee (The goateed member of the Pawn Stars, second from left above) may drive a Range Rover and a Maserati GT, but how did he get there?  He got lucky.

He was friends with people who eventually signed a TV deal.  “Well what about the rest of the Pawn Stars, surely they’re successful,” I hear you ask, “I mean they did start their own business!”  Yes, they did, and they were actually pretty successful with that business, but that business is not what they are known for, and not what is making them their millions.

Sure, Rick Harrison tried to sell a show about his pawn shop, but it wasn’t until a producer started thinking about his own vision of a pawn-based show that a show came to fruition.  It was pure luck that they were selected out of all the pawn shops in Vegas to be on this show.

Still don’t believe me that the Pawn Stars aren’t successful?  Okay, then take a look at the picture below… (WARNING: It is quite disturbing to many people)

That is the cast of Jersey shore…and they are all millionaires thanks to their show that is the intellectual equivalent of watching a train crash into a limping calf who happened to hobble onto the tracks.  Would you consider them successful?

I didn’t think so, and they are rich for the exact same reason that the Pawn Stars are.

The financial gains reaped by the stars of these two shows aren’t success because it fails one of the key laws of success: Repeatability!

The truly successful can replicate their success over and over again because they have the skills to do so.  If you happen to get lucky and make millions, that’s great, but it doesn’t make you a success, it makes you fortunate.

If you’re reading this blog and hoping for a magic bullet, or some lucky break to make it big, this post is to tell you to stop looking.  In the time it takes you to wait for money to find you, you could go out there and find or make your own success, it’s just a matter of learning the skills and understanding the process.

It’s what separates the stars of these shows from the producers.  The producers could leave either of these shows right now and create another show to make themselves money, if the networks cancelled the shows due to declining ratings, after a short death rattle signaled by the stars’ appearances on various tabloids, they’d leave the public consciousness just as quickly as they entered it.  They have no skills to replicate the height of their gains.

Repeatability (Heretofore known as the “Inverse Snooki Theorem”) is what makes a truly successful person, truly successful.  The skills are not hard to learn, and I’ll teach them all to you here.  So if you want to learn things like communication, marketing, cold emailing, product/service development, and time and life hacking skills, stick around and learn and enjoy a lifetime of success.

…or if you’re lazy and are fine with waiting for your windfall you can always go to LA and start waiting tables.  Who knows maybe some producer will want to make a reality show called Wait Lifting.


  1. says

    I call bullshit on the given definition of success. If this definition holds true, all athletes would be considered fortunate because winning a championship one year may not be repeatable again the following years.

    Who really cares if reality TV show stars will be able to repeat their success? Michael Jackson was never able to repeat the success of “Thriller”, but he will always be remembered for making and selling that album.

    Skills in and of themselves are no predictor of success. Many talented and hard working people never attain success. The producers of that show will not necessarily be able to produce another hit TV show. It is all luck.

    At the end of the day, luck >>> skill.

    • says

      There’s no doubt that luck can be an important component of one-off success, what I argue for is a shift in this mindset.

      While its true that many successful people never achieve the heights they have previously, the difference is in how you quantify success. If you want to quantify it relatively, as you do in your examples, then continued success is nearly impossible. However, absolute success (reaching your goals for a particular objective) is much easier to achieve repeatedly. I’d agree that Jackson never replicated the exact success of Thriller, but he still succeeded after the album.

      And sports is a very iffy example for me. For sports I’d be much more comfortable applying my definition to an individual, sport – like golf – than a team sport – like football. Team sports require every player to be in agreement on their goals, which is nearly impossible (I can’t even get my friends to all agree they want appetizers when we go out) so it becomes extremely difficult to measure success. Tiger wood has shown time and time again that developing skills and knowing what your goals are can lead to repeatable success…but as always, the goal setter determines success, not any outside force; if I feel I’ve succeeded, I have.

      • says

        Success itself is relative. If my “goal” can be easily achieved, then accomplishing it would make me successful in my own eyes. But the reality is that truly successful people accomplish a difficult or seemingly impossible goal.

        Honestly, most people are better off by not being successful. Success takes a great deal of courage and failure, which most people do not have. Most people should go to school, get a job, save money for retirement, and pray hard. Those things take a little more effort than breathing and are deemed as “successful” by the hoi polloi.

  2. says

    пишет:I think I first came across your blog via a link on Twitter.. I love the way you write and I am going to scbsuribe to read more when I can. Oh yeah, are you on Twitter yet?

  3. says

    home values and interests. Gen Y’s are attracted to the cozy Internet cafe’s and Tallahassee coffee shops. They relate to the social interaction of their like-minded friends who are captivated by old

  4. says

    >the reason that I can't afford to live here is that in the '70's, when I was a teenager, somehow I imbibed the "making money is bad," or "don't sell out" meme, which was then making the rounds.[…] I should have become an insurance defense lawyer when I had the chance. At least I'd have gotten flush<Not necessarily. You never know until you try.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>