“The goodness of the fairy tale was not affected by the fact that there might be more dragons than princesses; it was good to be in a fairy tale”. GK Chesterton
In 2002 Rick Warren released his first book “The purpose driven life.” As of today, more than 45 million copies have been sold worldwide in 50 languages. When it was first released in 2002, it simultaneously hit No. 1 on the four major best-seller lists, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Publishers Weekly.
Now what’s interesting is it was written by a minister with no writing or publishing experience, matter of fact he was turned down by several publishers who said that the book would never sell and suggested he find a writer with a track record to help him, or give up on the project all together. His reply was, “I think God wants me to write this book”.
As a music consultant, I walk a fine line by encouraging artists to go for it and push forward, not forgetting to count the cost, but also weigh out their motivation and “who” is really talking to them. Even the “experts” and well intentioned people surrounding the artists can miss it and often do.
I am sure most of you know the stories that still circulate today, but it is good to remind yourself when your path seems a little foggy:
Bill Gates – Before launching Microsoft, Bill Gates was a Harvard University dropout and co-owner of a failed business called Traf-O-Data. Driven by his passion for computer programming, Gates built what would become the world’s largest software company. Microsoft went public in 1986, and by the next year its rising share price made then-31-year-old Gates the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. An investor in the initial public offering would have seen a return of 30,207 percent.
Elvis Presley – While Elvis Presley went on to sell more than 1 billion records globally, according to the official Elvis Presley website, after his very first performance his manager Jimmy Denny said, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” He returned that advice to the sender after his career took off.
The Beatles – When The Beatles first auditioned for a recording compact in 1962, Decca Records rejected them. The band members recall being told “we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” The Beatles signed to EMI and are the best-selling music group of all time, and their music is still downloaded and listened to globally.
U2 – Who would have thought that U2, one of the world’s most prolific and successful rock bands, would have ever been told they weren’t good enough? A rejection letter that the group received from RSO Records in May of 1979 is addressed to Mr. P. Hewson (Bono) and states that the demo the band had sent in was “not suitable” for the record label to sign them. The bad news didn’t keep the fledgling group down for long, though; U2 released its first public work, a three-song EP titled “Three,” in September 1979. The rest is history.
Walt Disney – At age 22, Walt Disney was fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.” One of his early ventures, called Laugh-o-gram Studios, went bankrupt. The creator of Mickey and Minnie Mouse went on to be nominated for 59 Academy Awards, winning 32, all for his unparalleled animations. He still holds the record for the most Oscars won by an individual, according to WaltDisney.com.
Michael Jordan – once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Today, Jordan is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, with career stats including 6,672 rebounds, 5,633 assists, and 32,292 total points, according to NBA.com.
Steven Spielberg – Due to poor grades in high school, Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California three times. He was awarded an honorary degree in 1994 and became a trustee of the university in 1996. “Since 1980, I’ve been trying to be associated with this school,” joked the 62-year-old filmmaker. “I eventually had to buy my way in,” he told the Los Angeles Times. Spielberg has to date directed 51 films and won three Oscars. Forbes Magazine puts Spielberg’s wealth at $3 billion.
Stephen King – “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Those were the words of one publisher who passed over the manuscript for “Carrie,” which King submitted when he was 20. In fact, before becoming an iconic thriller, “Carrie” was rejected by 30 publishers, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife retrieved it and urged him to resubmit it. The rest is history. King has since published more than 50 books, all worldwide bestsellers, according to Amazon.com.
Fred Astaire – The man who evaluated Fred Astaire’s first screen test wrote, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Astaire spent his film career proving that exec wrong as he sang, danced, and acted his way through some of America’s most beloved musicals, such as Top Hat (1935) and Shall We Dance (1937).
Albert Einstein – Today the word “Einstein” is synonymous with genius, but young Albert didn’t speak fluently until he was nine-years-old, causing teachers to think he was slow. He was expelled from school for his rebellious nature and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He went on to revolutionize science’s understanding of the world, taking physics beyond its Newtonian view by developing the theory of General Relativity. He won the Nobel Prize, with his research leading the U.S. to build an atomic bomb, and influenced all aspects of culture, from religion, to art, to late-night television.