Saturday, December 29, 2012


What do Charlie Wilson, Jerry Weintraub and Abraham Lincoln have in common....other than the fact that I have been listening to or reading about them this weekend?  

Relentlessness.  They all have a relentless nature.  Whether you agree or not with their "missions" (Charlie Wilson's war, Jerry Weintraub's career as a film producer and talent agent, or Lincoln's political career) they all had that quality in common.   

It's more than "drive" or "passion"  There are tons of passionate artists out there who are not successful.  RELENTLESS is more than just the desire and drive to succeed.  It is:
1. Unyielding in severity or strictness; unrelenting: 
2. Steady and persistent; unremitting: 

In my quarterly alumni magazine from Northwestern there is an article about being successful in advertising (ala, Mad Men) and it says " The best creative people are relentless, self-directed, media fluent, collaborative, holistic, trustworthy and have an X factor."

In my own experience the best creative people, or the most successful people you know, inherently have these attributes.  I can teach anyone how to sing.  But I cannot give them that X factor and I cannot give them a relentless nature.  I can show them one at work..but beyond that I cannot do it for them.  I can cajole and badger my students into practicing...but seriously, if I have to do's too late for them. The "Relentlessness" needed for a theatre career has to come from them and not from me. 

In Time Magazine, the article about  Lincoln, the movie, says, "One lesson: It's not about them. Lincoln never confused his mission with himself.  He had the hide of a rhinoceros and a rare ability to set the past aside when turning former enemies into allies." 

Lincoln lost four elections before being elected President.  Relentless. 

I am listening to a Jerry Weintraub audio tape. When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man. He's balsy.  The story about Elvis alone is worth the time.  His biggest advice to anyone is just never give up.  If you get "no" just pretend like you didn't hear it and keep going back. He called the Colonel every day for three months straight to get him to let him take Elvis out on tour.  Finally it happened.  Relentless.

Just watched the dvd of "Charlie Wilson's War" again.  Basically three people made that war happen.  One with connections in Congress. One with money in the South and one with experience as a spy.  No matter what you think of the actual outcome, what was interesting to me was that they were relentless in their belief that it should happen. 

Steve Jobs, Madona, Einstein, Oprah, J.K. Rowling, Lucille Ball, Fred Astaire, Sidney Poitier, Steven Spielberg, The Beatles, Michael Jordan, Martin Luther King Jr, Beethoven, Any Olympic Athlete. 

With all of the above, it's about their own personal mission. Not just about being famous. They believe in their missions so wholeheartedly and powerfully that they HAVE to see it come true.  They bust through the rejections and the set backs and they keep moving forward. They stay with it as long as it takes and get better and better at what they are doing. And they surround themselves with a couple other people who believe too.  


(15 People who failed before they became famous)

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