3 Tips To Enjoy “Overnight Success”

My title is misleading. But it’s worth making this point – even if it should be obvious – there is really no substitute for working really, really, really hard. Yet despite this, and despite all the evidence that hard work is an important ingredient of success, many people still chase the idea that working smart means NOT having to work hard.

This isn’t true at all.

While there are many stories of people who got favorable breaks in business, almost all, if not all of them, somehow placed themselves (worked) in a position to get lucky.

What we think is an “overnight success” is really the fruit of night-after-night of hard work, learning, and preparation, many times not in a structured, clean, risk-free manner.

Now that we know WHAT an overnight success really is, here are 3 tips on how to enjoy your own breakthrough:


Just as in the stories of bench warmers who went on to go on scoring runs, people who seem to enjoy overnight success had to be in the game, suited up and in position to take advantage of the opportunity.

No coach can (or will) tell you to get on the court if you haven’t been practicing, or you’re not suited to play, or worst of all, you’re absent. You need to show up and be completely present, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Don’t just take up space but be a meaningful addition to any room, any conversation, any project, or any solution.

Showing up puts us in a spot for potential breakthrough. By showing up to work you give yourself a chance to get promoted or do amazing work. By showing up in classes or learning events,you give yourself a chance to discover. By showing up to meetings and sales calls you give yourself a chance to make that breakthrough sale.

You want to succeed? Stop being lazy. Wake up and show up.


I’m sure you’ve heard people say this, “I don’t work hard. I work smart.”

Guess what? That’s crap. Here’s why:

While it’s true that one can make money by working “smart” instead of “hard,” no truly meaningful work can come from being lazy and being an expert at letting others do all the work. There’s more to success than making money. if you think that money is all there is to it, you may make money, maybe even a lot of it, but you’ll never really make transformational impact.

If you want to have a breakthrough that transforms, you need to be passionate, and the best mark of a passionate worker is someone who works ridiculously hard on his or her obsession.

Whatever it is you’re working on, work very hard. It will benefit you in many ways, including teaching you how to commit, how to persevere, how to look for better ways, how to stay engaged and involved, and how to manage your own people. There are many benefits to working hard and, in my experience, money is the least important. I’ve found that money follows capabilities, competence, and compassion.


The great thing about every moment–even the bad ones–is that there is always something you can learn.

Some of my best lessons have come from really embarrassing mistakes and flops. Many of our insights have come from experimentation and trial (as well as error). By keeping our eyes and minds open, by listening and by willing to stay curious and learn, we have been able to participate in different opportunities.

I think the single biggest trait a true learner needs is Humility, which, in this context, means willing to admit “I don’t know much. What can this moment teach? What can this person teach me? What can this challenge teach me? What can this opportunity teach me? What can this article teach me? What can this customer teach me?”

I can go on. But the last tip is as straightforward as the two: LEARN.

So there you have it. My 3 tips to enjoy overnight success. Now that you know it takes more than a single night, you better start clocking in your hours.


David Bonifacio is Managing Director of New Leaf Ventures.
Connect with David on LinkedIn.


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David Bonifacio is the Direcor of Strategy for the CBTL Holdings Group, Managing Director of New Leaf Ventures, Managing Director of Elevation Partners, Managing Director of IDC Manpower Services, President of Issho Genki International, and advises businesses in South East Asia on matters of strategy, technology, and people development. David serves actively on the boards and committees of non-profit organizations including: Habitat for Humanity Philippines (housing) and CCT (microfinance). David pursues his creative interests through his blog dbonifacio.com

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