Achieving Success By Surviving Fame and Misfortune

I have faced and overcome more than my share of highly public, painful, and often cataclysmic failures.

Through this process I have gleaned that my secret to success in surviving fame and misfortune was embracing, learning from, and navigating around failure.

I’ve failed in every enterprise – television, sports, digital, products and even movies.  Take the film, Bonfire of the Vanities, I had the dubious distinction of people trying to walk out even when it was shown on planes.

There are three core attributes fundamental to navigating in a world where success and failure are so close together.  Make no mistake about it.  Inside every great success are the seeds of abysmal failure and inside every failure are the seeds of great success.  Moving the meter just a few degrees and that failed business proposition becomes a monumental success.

These navigational stakes are:


    Many business executives have great educational credentials and aptitude. But it’s attitude that puts aptitude on steroids.  When the chips are down and they often are, attitude is the secret sauce.  Your mantra must be “Never give up, never give in.”   Every journey to success has a puncture or two.  And, it’s not over until you stop getting up.


    Relationships trump transactions. Whatever you’re trying to acquire – customers, clients, teams, media assets, venues, fans, audiences, a new job, a promotion – you must aim for your listeners’ heart, not their wallets.  That’s where hits are born.  When your intention is to create a relationship, you put your attention on it. You move your listeners emotionally, embedding your call to action in a way that is memorable, resonant and actionable.


    Expecting, recognizing and seizing upon serendipity is a powerful resource.  It requires your awareness and resourcefulness to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities, not just problems.   The key is to be curious rather than critical, recognizing and acting on this calling.  Serendipity is always lurking.  It may be clothed in different costumes.  Your job is to be on the lookout.

My two most recent successes in sports were becoming the owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and major league baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.  Those were successes preceded by 15 years of rejection and disappointment.  But, by having a positive attitude, maintaining the relationships the rejections forged, and having a willingness to continue the serendipitous search,  when opportunity struck, I turned those failures into allies.

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