“Going viral” is no replacement for “hustling”

In the fast-paced world we live in today, a world of now, now, now, where any information is accessible from pretty much anywhere within seconds, where celebrities have huge social media followings, where BuzzFeed and DailyMail articles have a shelf-life of minutes, and where stories, videos, Snapchats and Vines can go viral, it is tempting to think that quick-and-easy wins really do exist.

Compare that to our seeing only the tip of the iceberg, and not the months and years of hard work that built up to the outside “success” that we witness, we can easily be fooled into thinking that overnight success is a real thing.

Unfortunately, though this is a really easy trap to fall into nowadays, this is far from the truth.

When an article or a video goes viral, one witnesses a temporary buzz, and spike in traffic, moments of attention…and then it fades away and it’s back to the real world. And yet it’s tempting to aim for that moment, that celebrity re-tweeting your tweet, that renowned artist for mentioning your week. All these things are great, and are certainly markers in the right direction, but these don’t at all solve all your problems overnight.

There is no replacement for hard work and for hustle. Taking a company like Uber, which has turned into a hugely successful company and continues to expand further across geographies and into new territories. It seemed to appear from nowhere, it seemed just like an overnight success…

And yet I heard a story of one of the Regional Heads in the UK (my source couldn’t remember which) who in Uber’s early days spent hours leading an event and spending time in the room with the attendees – of which there are just 4 or 5.

Below is an excerpt from Smartcuts: How hackers, innovators, and icons accelerate success (by Shane Snow):

“In January 2010, Paul “Bear” Vasquez posted a home video on YouTube. The video idled online for months without attracting any attention, until Jimmy Kimmel discovered the clip in July. He shared it on Twitter and endorsed it as “the funniest video in the world.” It went viral. Today, “Double Rainbow” has over 40 million views.

Around the same time, a 23-year-old Vietnamese American makeup artist named Michelle Phan posted a tutorial on YouTube demonstrating how to apply makeup to re-create Lady Gaga’s look from “Bad Romance.” Buzzfeed picked up the video, and it went viral. Today, it also claims over 40 million views.

Vasquez and Phan took different paths thereafter. Vasquez, who lives just outside of Yosemite National Park in central California, continues to document his life in the mountains, (he has posted over 1,300 clips) but most of his videos only have a few hundred views. Phan is the second-most-watched female YouTuber in the world. She claims nearly 7 million subscribers and has amassed over 1 billion views. Thanks to her makeup tutorials, Phan became the official video makeup artist for Lancôme and created her own line for L’Oreal.”

What was the difference between Vasquez and Phan? Vasquez had a one-off video that went viral; Phan had been spending lots and lots of time producing various video tutorials before one of her videos went viral, and so all of that historic hard work was discovered and propelled her to longer-term success.

There is no replacement for hustling, or hard work.

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