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Inspiration from Steve Martin

Estimated Lesson Time: 3 minutes

Steve Martin (1945–) is an actor, writer, director, producer, film-maker, banjo player, balloon animal maker, all-around entertainer, and one wild and crazy guy.

Success is knowing how to sell—yourself. Steve worked at Disneyland after school and in the summers from age ten until age 18. Starting off by selling guidebooks at the front gate, Steve quickly learned that “relentless cheeriness” was what he needed to far outsell the norm. This charismatic attitude is one that would help Steve succeed throughout his career.

Success does not come easily. Martin started his career as a struggling stand-up comedian by traveling from town to town sticking arrows through his head and making balloon animals. Martin reportedly told the Edmonton Sun in 1999 that these were the hardest years of his life.

Success can be a result of making good contacts. Steve’s first lucky break came when his girlfriend at the time was a dancer on the very popular Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. She passed on some of Steve’s material to the head writer, Mason Williams, who loved it and hired Steve as a writer for the show.

Success is daring to be different. During his live performances, Martin took to drawing the audience together as a group and leading them out of the venue. Once, he took them all to McDonald’s and ordered 274 burgers, at the last moment changing his order to “one fry to go.”

Success is constantly pushing yourself. In 1987, Steve left his comfort zone by co-writing, executive-producing, and starring in Roxanne (1987), a modern interpretation of the story of Cyrano De Bergerac. For his work with Roxanne, he won a Best Actor award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association as well as an award for Best Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.

Success is knowing the odds. In a 1995 interview with the Toronto Sun, Steve said, “This is a sick confession, I have always been fixated on creating a body of work. I always felt that was my goal. That’s why I liked doing a lot of movies. Because movies are very hard to make work, and if you do three the odds are you might have one that’s any good. If you do 30, the odds are you might have six.”

Success is learning to deal with failure. “You are always going to have bombs,” he said. “It’s always personal. I’m a little more used to it. I’m dealing with success or failure a little quicker. But it hangs in there. It’s like saying goodbye to a girlfriend: It can take weeks, months or years.”

Success is being creative. Martin once told reporters that he had business cards printed up for all those fans who would approach him. The business cards read something like: “This certifies that you had a real encounter with Steve Martin and found him to be kind, courteous, charming and witty.”

[Sources: http://www.biography.com, http://www.movieclub.com, http://www.hollywood.com, http://www.tribute.ca, http://www.tiscali.co.uk]

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 Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):

  • Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
  • Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
  • What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)
    From the Course:
    Personal Development
    Year To Success
    Bo Bennett, PhD

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    Personal Development : Personal Transformation
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