One of the key reasons why many musicians can maintain a career over multiple decades is that they constantly reinvent themselves to bring fresh creativity to the market and to continue to strive to reach new audiences as style and fashion continually evolve. Many people have a one time success. The stars aligned and they were in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. But the true mark of a successful individual is their ability to have repeated success over a sustained amount of time.
Two types of success
I believe the majority of successful online Entrepreneurs fall into one of two categories. The first category is those people who have a vision for a better product. Examples of these types of people are;
Jack’s vision was to create a real time, short messaging system that would enable people to share and disseminate information and data across a large distributed network. Jack created his vision in Twitter.
Dennis’ vision was to create a network of geolocation data of recommendations that people can access in real time from their mobile phone. Dennis’ “overnight” success at Foursquare was actually a journey that started over a decade ago with his previous company Dodgeball (which was acquired by Google).
Seeing the success of Slash Dot, Kevin wanted to create a technology news site that was entirely curated by the community. His vision was to allow the users to decide which stories merited being on the front page. Kevin’s vision would eventually become Digg.
The second type of person has a vision for a change in attitude, world view or are an advocate of a particular message. Examples of these type of people are;
Gary Vaynerchuk has built an incredibly career off the back of his first book Crush it. Gary’s message revolved around working hard and caring about the community you build and the customers of your business.
Tim Ferriss’ first book The 4 hour work week launched Tim as the face of lifestyle management by offering a clear path to reorganise your work / life balance.
Tony Hsieh founded the company Zappos and wrote the very inspiring book, Delivering Happiness. Tony’s message was that there was a better way to manage and grow a company, and you could create a very successful company by concentrating on offering the best possible customer service.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s story
As an example of a person who has continued to reinvent themselves, lets look at the story of Gary Vaynerchuk.
Gary started working in his Father’s wine shop. After many years of working there, Gary had built up a broad knowledge of wine and an incredible passion for customer service.
Gary launched his wine retail website in 1997 and then he launched Wine Library TV in 2006. Wine Library TV was a video series where Gary would talk about and recommend wines. Gary managed to build a community around people’s passion for wine.
Gary began public speaking about how to build a successful online company, how to build a community and how to use Social Media. In 2007 he launched his first book Crush it which was Gary’s guide turning your passion into a career through Internet monetisation and hard work.
In 2011 Gary launched his second book, The Thank You Economy which advocated that caring about your customers will be the new competitive advantage.
As you can see, Gary has constantly reinvented and refined his message. What started out as a passion for the wine community, then evolved into a passion for creating a career from the thing you love to a realisation that caring about your clients and scalable customer service can be achieved through data driven technology.
It’s an innate human characteristic to continue down a path where success has already been validated. The path is easy and you feel confident in taking each step. But the real path you should be taking is one that will lead you to create your next great product, or to discover the next important message you should be advocating to your audience.
I think its easy to stop learning and to focus on your hit and the audience that has been created. But products become old, messages become tired and the people behind them become forgotten. If you want to create a legacy, you need to keep learning and trying new things to find your next path to wander down.