I watched Jonathan Ross interview Psy, the man behind the Gangnam Style video. A video that, at the time of writing, has had over 700,000,000 YouTube views.
Not to mention over 5,000,000 likes (OMFG).
He (Psy not Ross) comes across as a cool dude who’s taking the madness in his stride.
Most importantly he has a laudable sense of perspective.
He makes a clear distinction between long term success and a freak fluke of fate.
In his words…
Everybody asks me about the success, about pressure and what he’s going to do next. So I got that a lot these days, and you know I can not call this success because this is called phenomenon which means I don’t do anything, people do it right? So it was by people not by me. So, on the next one, what if people don’t do it again?
How refreshing to hear someone with his feet on the ground avoiding the credit for an accident.
And the question at the end of that quote is quite poignant.
If you’re one of the tiny fraction of a fraction of people or brands whose stuff actually does go viral, what happens next?
Are you going to “plan” for more viral?
Or are you going to have a plan that might actually work?
Here’s the interview in full. The section about success starts at about 2:15.
Kev makes a really important point in his comment (below).
Namely the role of hard work in all of this.
People who work hard, create often and learn fast are the people who make luck happen.
Psy himself talks about this later in the interview.
So, this is funny thing. This was my sixth album right? Which means I used to have five previous dance moves that the world didn’t see.
Gangnam Style was sixth time lucky for Psy. Lucky on a global scale at least.
It seems that the previous five were all big hits in Korea – no luck there.
But the phenomenal profile of Gangnam Style potentially gives him a lever to derive long tail value from his previous work.
Kev’s comment reminded me of one of my favourite posts on the issue of social media success. It’s the Ad Contrarian post entitled My Overnight Social Media Success. It’s well worth a read.
And talking of leverage. (HT Murat Mutlu).
The illusion of instant success is pervasive these days, and yet a large part of Psy’s phenomenal rise is down to our old friends hard work and good luck.
It’s worth remembering that it took 6 studio albums and 13+ years of hard work to create this ‘overnight’ hit. Practice and preparation are doubtless fundamental to Psy’s readiness to meet the opportunity “gangnam style”.
As Pasteur said, ‘Fortune favours the prepared mind’.