When I wrapped up Cigarro & Cerveja, I took some time off before working on Legendary Woodsman. During that time I did a bit of soul searching and re-evaluated my past experiences and tried to figure out the secret of success. Success is one of those things that you see around you on the radio, on the television, in the movies, in politics, in big business… and when the headline on the newspaper reads “Successful Person Screws Up,” it makes me wonder how they became successful in the first place.


One idea that is floated around is that truly talented people are successful. Only the most talented are deserving of the great successes that they achieve. Whether it’s the most talented of comedians, writers, or actors- the cream will rise to the top.

There are however the stories of artists who are only appreciated after their death.  The starving artists like Van Gogh who found acclaim postmortem.

Hard Work

The other idea is that success is the result of hard work. It’s difficult to argue that CEOs have it easy when they need to understand the inner workings of their corporate machine. Any number of factors could prevent the 10% projected yearly profit from occurring. The late nights. The red-eye flights from city to city to make it to the next meeting. It’s grueling.

But there are those stories of single moms working two and a half jobs to put food on the table for their hungry family. They may achieve success in a small scale by successfully feeding their family… but compared to other families that work half as much and earn double the income…


The last idea that I’ve heard bandied about is that the secret of success is luck. It makes sense, I suppose. Why is the hard worker less successful than the lazy worker? Luck. Why is the less talented more famous than the amazingly gifted? Luck.

How did John Doe get that amazing job offer? He was in the right place at the right time.

Luck explains all the factors that cannot be fathomed. Like a scene in Run Lola Run, if the dog trips you on the stairs, the chain of events that follows could be dramatically different than avoiding the dog altogether. Since we cannot control the cause, we cannot be expected to control the effect.

But I’m not fond of “luck” as the reason for success. I feel that it removes personal responsibility. If things are just fated to happen, you just wait to see what your destiny is rather than going after it.

Talent + Hard Work + Luck = Success

I don’t even like “luck” as part of a combination for success. If the luck is “bad” then all that talent and hard work still relies on a twist of fate to bring it all together. It can end up feeling hopeless.

The Answer

After a lot of thought, the best answer that I could come up with is:

The secret of success is people.

People are that x-factor that the others attribute to luck.
Why is the hard worker less successful than the lazy worker? Because the lazy worker has a boss that likes him.
Why is the less talented more famous than the amazingly gifted? Because the right people weren’t there to recognize the talent.
How did John Doe get that amazing job offer? The person who gave the job offer liked John’s moxy.

People appreciate hard work but sometimes hard work is intimidating. People appreciate talent but sometimes talent is hard to recognize.

People support other people and we only succeed with that support. An author needs readers, a comedian needs an audience, a politician needs constituents, a boss needs employees. We are all dependent on each other.

People are successful because of other people. But if a person fails, the responsibility falls on their own shoulders.

If I fail, it’s because I was too proud to ask for help or too stubborn to listen to advice. I may be categorized as an independent cartoonist but if I succeed, it’s really because of all the people in my life.

I owe everything to you. Thank you!