How to Make Millions in 30 minutes or Less

A few weeks ago I saw Elton John in concert in Indianapolis. It was a great show and a ton of people were there. Mrs. Businesspundit and I began to discuss Elton's net take at the end of the concert. The next day, there was a tv show about him on some educational network (he was being interviewed in front of a bunch of musicians), and someone asked him how long it took him to write "Your Song." He said about 30 minutes.

That song has made him millions of dollars.

For 30 minutes worth of work.

Or, that's how some people see it.

But that would be wrong.

You have to peel back a layer. Elton had studied piano for years. He played hours and hours a day. He pushed himself to master his instrument until such bursts of creativity and talent seemed easy. When we wonder why we haven't had the "instant success" that so many others have, do we look at all the time they put in that we didn't? Elton John didn't really write "Your Song" in 30 minutes. He wrote it during 15 years of rigorous musical training.

Why does this matter? Because if you want to have those creative breakthroughs, if you want to make the easy money, if you want to be an instant success, you have to put in an inordinate amount of time up front. So now the secret is out, but don't worry – this is one secret that is safe in public – because most people hate hard work.

  • James Whistler was once asked how he could charge so much for a painting that took only two days to paint. He replied that the price was for the lifetime of knowledge that preceded those two days. (Whistler v Ruskin)

  • Jay

    Heh. Elton John is Sadie’s latest favorite! She went nuts the first time she heard him, just days ago. That was on an old tape of The Muppet Show.

    She also likes the Rolling Stones. In general she likes rock better than mellow music; a beat is good, and she prefers men’s voices, the deeper the better.

    We got a kick out of her drumming along (or maybe pretending it was a piano) on the bottom of an empty box to Crocodile Rock.

    As for the secret, absolutely right! Most people don’t see the hard work behind so many apparent “easy” successes. I at least know better, even though it doesn’t stop me from being lazy all too often.

  • Rob

    Sadie obviously has good taste in music!

  • “Most overnight success takes about fifteen years”