How to Be a Big Success at Anything Fast

Sure, I’m going to tell you how to be a big success at anything, which means, of course, that I have to know enough about everything to be able to coach anyone who’s trying to do anything, even if I have never done that thing.

Yeah, you’re dumb enough to believe that. How do I know that? You’re taking advice from a nobody on a website that makes no attempt to vet anything that’s being published there.

Don’t feel too bad. I do it too.

I’ve been studying how people succeed on Medium and it turns out that it isn’t very different from how people succeed anywhere on the World Wide Web. (Don’t call it the internet. The internet is the highway. The World Wide Web are the clown cars traveling on the insane highway.)

Trick #1: Insult and Denigrate One (or more) of the Big Successes on Medium

This is easy because there’s a lot to insult and denigrate them about. When you nail up your shingle as an expert, you are shooting yourself in the foot at the same time. If you were really as successful as you want us to think you are, you wouldn’t be here trolling for followers. (Yes, I’m doing it too.) The best way to do this is by dropping your denigrating comments into your responses to their articles. Everyone who follows those Big Successes will come and check out your other articles, generating the traffic you were lusting after.

Trick #2: Praise and Extol One (or more) of the Big Successes on Medium

This is even easier. In order to insult and denigrate one of the Big Successes, you have to know (or think you know) at least as much as they do about the subjects on which they purport to be experts. Praising is easier because you don’t need any credentials to praise a “how-to” guru. All you have to do is say, “I followed his or her advice and it worked.” (See Trick #1 for the recommended implementation methodology.)

Trick #3: Find a real expert about something and paraphrase their advice

This is as close to plagiarism as you can get without working for The New York Times. The real experts actually like this because, if you give them the credit you need to give them to avoid being sued for plagiarism, you will be generating traffic for them.

Trick #4: Find a real expert about something and ridicule their advice

No point in belaboring the point. See Trick #2 and adapt it according to the necessary paradigms.

Here’s the truth:

  1. Most businesses fail. The Small Business Administration tells us that 30% of all businesses fail within two years, 50% fail within five years, and 66% fail within 10 years, excluding restaurants. Ninety to 95% of all non-franchise restaurants fail within the first year for obvious reasons, including the fact that they are going up against chain operations with massive advertising and marketing budgets.
  2. All businesses fail for the same reasons: bad planning, bad marketing, bad location (or bad websites), under-capitalization, or bad products. The amount of effort you put into a business is irrelevant. No amount of effort can overcome bad planning, etc. On the other hand, if you have done everything else right, you have also right sized the amount of effort you have to put into the project so that it doesn’t consume your life. If it consumes your life, you have failed, even if the business succeeds.
  3. Most of the people who claim to be super successful are actually lying. I could tell you about the half dozen successful businesses I’ve started from scratch or grew from a seed into a tree, and it would be (a) all true and (b) all irrelevant because, eventually, those businesses failed or I wouldn’t be here writing bullshit like this. (I once commented to a friend about all the people driving exotic cars down here in South Florida. He was a car dealer, and he told me that 90% of those people had long-term notes on their cars that they couldn’t afford. He spent much of his time repossessing the cars that phony rich people were driving around in before he repossessed them. He also told me that really rich people rarely drive exotic cars because they didn’t need the flash. They were rich so they didn’t have to pretend to be rich.)
  4. Businesses fail because times and tastes change. Proof: Sears, Macy’s, Toys R Us, Sports Authority, Borders Bookstores, Gander Mountain, Orchard Hardware, drive in movies, and any business ever started by Donald Trump outside of the real estate industry. The entire mega-mall industry is failing along with the anchor stores that once propped them up. People are still shopping, but they prefer to park right outside the stores they are going into, which is why people are building strip malls again. And then there’s Amazon….
  5. And here’s the most important reason that you’re probably going to fail at what you’re trying to do: bad luck. Luck plays a tremendous role in the patterns of success and failure. Luck favored Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Luck favored Jobs because he grew up with Steve Wozniak, who was the actual genius behind the early Apples. Luck favored Gates because he was friends with Jobs, which put him in a position to steal some of Jobs’ ideas. They were in the right places at the right times with the right skill sets. That’s luck in action. You can also call luck fate or destiny or even divine intervention, but it amounts to the same thing: Blind Luck.

I missed a plane once because of a traffic jam. The plane crashed. I once bent over to pick up a pencil and bullet passed through the space where my head had been a second earlier. I put a car upside down into a tree thirty feet from a thousand foot ravine. If the tree hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be here writing this article. I’m only alive because of luck, and so are you.

The big problem with most very successful self-made people is that they just can’t admit — to themselves or anyone else — that their success is based on luck. They like to tell themselves that they made it because they were smarter, faster, better, or tougher than the next guy, but the next guy was actually smarter, faster, better and tougher than they were…but he or she didn’t have the luck.

It’s very difficult to believe in luck and God at the same time. If you believe in God, then you believe in a well- planned and professionally directed universe in which we are puppets on a stage with God pulling the strings. If you believe in luck, then you believe in chance and you can’t have both chance and God in the same universe. The world is either directed or it isn’t. It can’t be both.

That paragraph was supposed to throw you. It was intended to force you to think about success as a manifestation of luck rather than the result of divine intervention. Regardless of whether they think they believe in God, many would-be atheists who embrace the concept that hard work alone will create success are actually indicating a disbelief in luck, which forces them to accept the contradicting idea of divine intervention in the affairs of humans.

Therefore, if you don’t succeed, it’s God’s fault.

Don’t you feel better now?




Alan is a poet, journalist, short story writer, editor, website developer, and political activist. He is the executive editor of

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Alan Marshall Milner

Alan Marshall Milner

Alan is a poet, journalist, short story writer, editor, website developer, and political activist. He is the executive editor of

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