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Overnight Success: 15 People Whose Lives Changed Completely

SimiJuly 31, 2018

In today’s 24-hour, always on, social streaming and digital world, overnight success is possible. A tide of Likes, followers and customers could be speeding your way. Whether you create something or sell a service, it’s nearly impossible to leap into the international marketplace and become an overnight success. At the same time, the market is highly competitive, so where does overnight success come from?

Is it luck or is it in the stars? Is it hard work or all about fate? The fact is, for some people it just happens. One day they found recognition, someone spotted their talent or loved their business idea, and the rest is history. They achieved the overnight success most people just dream about or spend a lifetime working towards.

Are you someone with a winning idea? Do you dream of becoming a Hollywood actor? How about an internationally bestselling author? Perhaps your art is destined for more than the four corners of your walls or sketchpad. Throughout history, people have found fame and fortune in the most unexpected ways.

Most have done so by following paths that may be entirely different than the average person. So, what do they all have in common? These people achieved something remarkable in a short space of time. They beat the odds using their talents and chasing their dreams. Are you next?

1. Connor Bruggemann: Lunchtime Stockbroker

Do you have a second job? Perhaps you are students and bus tables or work as a professional, but do online research on the side. Most of these methods will bring in extra revenue, but they are not going to make you rich overnight. What if you were able to use your phone during your lunch hour to set up a small business? What if you could make $300,000 per annum working during your lunch hour?

Well, Connor Bruggemann, 16, who did exactly that. This young teenager from New Jersey used his saving to amass a small fortune in a record amount of time. He’s been on Oprah and other talk show programs to talk about his success. Although he stands out from the crowd because of his age, Connor Bruggemann used his capital, which was his summer job savings to do something remarkable.

Connor worked as a busboy, saving all his money. He had $10,000 and managed to turn it into $300 000 in a short space of time. In a single year, he traded penny stocks, making a 3,000 percent profit. Trading on his iPhone in the school cafeteria, he earned a respectable fortune. Connor at just 16, was able to do more than most experienced, professional stockbrokers.

How do you use your lunch break? Could you make $300 000, on the side? This story may make you rethink how you use your daily work breaks.

2. True Detective Show: A Surprising Sensation

Are there certain series that you have watched every episode of, like Dallas, Grey’s Anatomy or Game of Thrones? Successful films and series are a part of our cultural identity. Are you a fan of the cult hit HBO series, True Detective? If so, you wouldn’t be alone. In fact, you would be one of the millions that tune in to watch.

Starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the show was never expected to reach the massive following that it has. Most new series take a while to catch on, regardless of how well they market and promote it to get loyal fans watching, especially from the beginning. Shows that most people watch, like Game of Thrones, often take a season or two to develop a broad audience. From the beginning, True Detective attracted the biggest crowds, and faster than shows like The Soprano’s and Game of Thrones.

Did you watch the season finale of the first season? So many people tuned in to watch it, HBO’s live streaming server crashed. An entire network collapsed because of one show. HBO never expected the show to be this popular or attract the kind of audiences it did. That’s money in the bank and an overnight success they couldn’t predict.

3. Moziah Bridges: Follow Your Passion

At four years old this snappy dresser won his first suit and discovered a passion for bow ties. He soon found the ones he wanted were not in stores. With a flair for fashion and design, this young man sourced his fabrics – from funky African prints to bold colors and florals to create his own unique, bespoke bow ties. Selling them to local stores, and then trading on Etsy, Mo’s Bows turned a passion into a business that was instantly successful.

Moziah was just nine years old when he launched his company. He hopes to develop his own menswear range by the time he is 18. You will know his name, and brand, so his passion and ingenuity will keep vaulting him straight ahead of the pack.

Is there a product you could source, manufacture or spot before the next person, something that could potentially become huge? It’s not about re-inventing the wheel but finding a niche gap in the market. It’s also about looking at what is trending and what appeals to your specific market. This is a dream shared by many entrepreneurs.

Many people have ambitions and plans, but their ideas may not bring the success they dream of having. You are never too young or old to start an online business. Moziah Bridges, at 12 years old is the CEO of Mo’s Bows. A catchy name and a fashion statement that no trendy super hipster’s wardrobe would be complete without. Appearing on shows like Shark Tank and in magazines like O and Vogue, this young entrepreneur became successful overnight.

He ended up with a business worth around $150,000. This teen is doing a lot more than a paper route or mowing the lawn to earn some pocket money. Moziah’s age did not stop him from pursuing his dreams, so Moziah will be the future captain of the industry. Giving back is something that he does, too. Moziah has donated some of his earnings to help less privileged students go to Summer Camp.

4. Fait Accompli: An Email App Costing $200 million

Have you ever thought of an app that would make your life easier or something that could entertain you? App developers can make it big, selling their wares on various platforms. There are so many, and the market is massive. Also, you need to do your research first. Don’t be put it off, though – there could be a giant paycheck coming your way.

All you need is a little ingenuity and some startup capital, and you may be onto something life-changing. In today’s tech and information age, people rely on email to get information – from business users to home users and the rest of the world. There are big email giants like Google, and file sharing platforms like DropBox.

People are juggling Android and IOS, and most people have a work email that may be a Microsoft product like Outlook, a personal mail on Gmail and many others. So, a few bright sparks decided to create an app that integrates and manages email from various platforms, as well as file sharing. They named it Fait Accompli, and 18 months later, this app was available for a cool $200 million.

An initial investment of a few million dollars means that this dream idea made it big by selling for more than 20 times the initial investment. Although Microsoft has competing platforms like OneDrive, regardless of its market share, they will integrate this app into their stable of information tech.

Accompli CEOs, Javier Soltero, Kevin Henrikson and J.J. Zhuang – all engineers – wrote themselves a 200 million dollar paycheck for 18 months of work. Their overnight success came from beating the odds to create a digital product that millions will use across the globe.

5. John Dolan: From Homeless to Famous Artist

John Dolan was homeless and living on the streets of London. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined having a future of fame and riches as an artist. John had been living on the streets for 20 years. For him, it was a way of life. With such poverty and no money, he was able to exchange a can of beer for something that would enrich his life in the most fantastic way.

John was able to trade that beer for George, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. George would become his companion and family – his new BFF. George and John would wander around London where John would sketch pictures of his beloved pooch set against great cityscapes and the sights of London. He managed to sell a few to passersby and keep himself and George fed.

But one day, all this was going to change. Fate would bring a London gallery owner to John and George. Seeing his talent and looking past the man who had been living on the streets, Richard Howard Griffin saw the artist within. He hosted John Dolan’s first show, and from living on the streets of London to selling his art for thousands of dollars apiece, John became an overnight success.

George and John are famous and have been shows like Ellen. They are enjoying a different life from the one they had before. From rags to riches is a common phrase and usually reserved for fairy tales. And there is typically a pumpkin and fairy godmother who can grant wishes in this tale. In real life you hardly expect people to find fame and success magically overnight, but it does happen.

6. Howard Schultz: From Coffee Lover to CEO

Are you a cappuccino queen or maybe you’re more into green tea with a healthy dose of antioxidants to kickstart your morning from the local Starbucks. It’s one of the most famous, international brands in the coffee business. And what would your day be like without your daily dose of caffeine?

Ask Howard Schultz. Like millions of other Americans and people all over the world, Howard loved this delicious brewed beverage. He worked for a company that roasted coffee beans in Seattle. Howard Schultz traveled to Milan, Italy and encountered the European tradition of enjoying coffee as part of daily life.

More than an item on a menu, upmarket coffee bars are favorite social places. They are also just for those looking for a pit stop on a busy day or a place to pick up an espresso on the go. He approached his employees with his business idea to model coffee shops like the European tradition as in Italy. They were not interested but sold him their brand name, helping finance his new venture.

This was a decision they may have come to regret. After all, wouldn’t you like to have an interest in Starbucks? If you’re not ready for it, though, overnight success can bring huge headaches. Look at the developers of the anonymous email app Leak who learned this in 2014. Despite its massive overnight success, Leak had to close its doors and shut down the app just 11 days after its launch. The app had nowhere to “live,” so as a result, its overnight success disappeared as quickly as it came.

7. Charlize Theron: Hollywood Star Discovered

Some actors spend a long time working their way through auditions, rejections and small parts in low-budget films, which may or may not find an audience. South African born Hollywood leading lady, Charlize Theron was in Hollywood to pursue her acting dreams when she was talent spotted. It wasn’t at an audition, at least not a formal one, or on a tape.

Actually, Ms. Theron was arguing with her bank manager. You can be sure there are no more fights about money with her bank manager. In fact, Ms. Theron has more than made bank. At 18, she was broke and fighting with the bank manager because they did not want to cash a check for her.

An agent spotted this statuesque ex-model and ballet dancer in a moment in life that we all have – that meltdown, in, a bank, when things do not go as planned. For most people, it’s a tense moment while expressing your views and possibly raising your voice. For Charlize, it was a moment that would change her life forever.

Born in Benoni, South Africa, Charlize pursued her dream of being a model, and then a ballerina. An injury meant she had to quit dancing. So Charlize left New York for Los Angeles at her mother’s insistence to try her luck at acting. She was able to springboard her way onto the silver screen, from roles in films like Two Days in the Valley, and Devils’ Advocate to an Oscar for Monster. Not only did fate smile on Charlize that day, she has more than achieved success as an actor.

You never know who is watching and may approach you to offer you the chance of a lifetime. Do you voice your opinions, to the world at large? There might be a stranger out there who approaches you and changes your life for the better. He or she will recognize your talent, in whatever your field is, and help you climb the ladder of success a little faster than the next person.

8. Justin Bieber: The Power of YouTube

Justin Bieber is an international star and pop idol. A video on YouTube and a few months later this Canadian teen and his famous hair were a viral sensation. His talent skyrocketed via the internet, and the public spotlight changed his life forever. From busking in his hometown of Stratford, he went to world tours, number one hits and becoming a celebrity overnight.

With Baby Love, Justin shot to fame at such a young age. Although people have been highly critical of his more fall from grace and reckless behavior, he seems to have found balance in life recently. But how would you handle overnight success and fame, on the scale that this young teen had to? The level of his success is monumental. Although Justin has a managing team and a host of people around him, he is a solo artist.

Like any young person coming into their own are bound to have some growing pains. Justin’s fans are adoring, gathering outside hotels, venues and screaming their love to him. Bodyguards, life in the public eye, being followed by the paparazzi – the price of this type of fame and success can be quite high. In his 20’s now, Justin Bieber has shed his teeny-bop image and transformed into a young man.

People still adore Justin and he has a vast international fan base. His countless hits have propelled him to the top of the Billboard charts time after time. Overnight success can have a flip side – it is possible to fall from grace and slip into obscurity just as fast. But Justin will be around for a good while. With his talent and abilities, this young man’s star is rising, and he’s here to stay.

9. Kelly Clarkson: First American Idol Winner

Kelly Clarkson, like many hopefuls, decided to try her luck in a talent competition. Have you ever thought of entering a talent competition? Today there are quite a few that have become popular internationally. Filmed live, these knockout style talent shows, highlight the talents of many potential future stars.

Kelly would go on to win two Grammy awards and have number one hits on the Billboard charts, including, Behind These Hazel Eyes, Because of You and My Life Would Suck Without You. Her album Breakaway was a huge hit. This young lady from Fort Worth, Texas, walked away from American Idol with a grand prize of a million dollars. Instant overnight fame awaited her, as well as a fortune.

Not all winners of talent competitions go on to reach international recognition. Some make it in their country of origin, but it takes an exceptional talent to become a worldwide star. Kelly made a brave decision, entered a talent contest and won, beating the odds. One of 10,000 contestants, Kelly endured a tough finale to make it through, right to the end. She went Los Angeles to pursue her singing career, working a few odd jobs.

Kelly returned to Texas after things didn’t work out when she heard about the contest from a friend. What if she hadn’t entered? Would we know her at all? All it takes a moment of bravery and the path to instant fame and fortune could be yours. Kelly’s first single, A Moment Like This, climbed to number one as fast as her star was rising.

The first American Idol winner to have a number one hit on the Billboard charts, Kelly Clarkson arrived on the international stage. Beating the odds, one against 10,000 – Kelly’s success goes to show that you should never worry about the competition. There will always be people chasing the same dreams. But lady luck could shine on you with a stellar future in her smiling eyes.

10. J.K. Rowling: From Hopelessness to Hogwarts

It’s hard to believe, but the bestselling author of the internationally acclaimed Harry Potter series was a struggling single parent who could not afford to pay her rent. Ms. Rowling could not find permanent work and had to go on welfare to make ends meet. Her mother died in the first few months of penning the first chapters of her book. Ms. Rowling was depressed and even contemplated suicide at that point in her life. She was struggling and grieving the loss of her mother, with whom she had been close.

But financially, J.K. was under a great deal of pressure. She never gave up on her dream. J.K. spent time writing where she could – on the train, in coffee shops, and with her young baby at her side. She married, but the relationship didn’t last, so she was in a tough place in her life. She fleshed out the characters she dreamed about and penned the chapters of what would become an international bestselling children’s and adult’s novel.

Harry Potter is now a part of our literary history, but blockbuster films was still a way away. Still, Harry Potter had been born. His Hogwarts compatriots, the station at platform 9 and ¾ – all based on Kings Cross Railway Station, were all created by a magical wordsmith genius. Her talents and imagination were yet to be recognized and were still in the making. Chapters completed, J.K. sent her work through to various publishers.

But the news was not good. She knew that her book was too complicated for children and they rejected it more than once. There are literary agents and publishers out there who, no doubt, have occasional sleepless night thinking of the novels and future earnings they rejected.

Bloomsbury was the publisher that finally recognized the next bestselling author’s talent. From being rejected and living on welfare to achieving overnight success with a runaway bestselling novel the whole world has read and loved is a big accomplishment.

11. E.L. James: Fifty Shades of Overnight Success

What do you do on your commute in the mornings and evenings? If you’re driving home, you probably don’t have time to do a little writing, as E.L. James did. A busy working mother and a keen reader who loved books like Twilight, E.L James crafted her own success story. Fifty Shades of Grey, the trilogy, went on to become a remarkable international bestselling book and blockbuster film. In fact, her writing inspired many other people and created a whole new market in adult-themed red room themed play.

Feathers, toys, a light spanking – she explored bondage and S & M sexual roles in a mainstream way for a contemporary and open-minded audience. Some call it “Mommy porn,” but either way, E.L James wrote a contemporary, adult-themed romance that introduced Anastasia Steel and Christian Grey. Her steamy love scenes may get you 50 Shades of Blushing. She wrote it mostly on her Blackberry and E.L James developed her platform by writing fanfictions, shorter pieces and also asking the audience to involve her followers.

E.L. uses a collaborative and creative process that tantalizes her audience who wait with breathless anticipation for her next installment. You too can create your own success story. What did E.L. James do that was so different? She tested the market and listened carefully. She skipped traditional publishing, created her website and launched an e-book.

Digital publishing gave her the freedom to self-publish her novels. And she had interest from Hollywood long before the publishing houses came knocking. Her overnight success was partly due to the power on the internet from her loyal fans and one of the most influential marketing forces in the world. Everyone was talking about “The Book” that you just had to read. This sensation contributed to her 50 Shades of Success.

12. Stephanie Meyer: Write Your Dreams

Do you listen to your dreams? What do you do while your children are sleeping? For most of us, it’s probably relaxing, going to bed or watching TV. It is merely a chance to switch off for a few hours and unwind after a busy day. What if you were doing something a little more productive instead of your downtime?

Translated into 37 languages, and selling more than 250 million copies, Stephanie Meyer’s first book took inspiration from a dream. Fleshing out the rest of her dream has inspired the world with the beautiful love story between handsome heartthrob Edward Cullen – a vampire – and Bella Swan, a mortal.

Mom to three sons, Ms. Meyer, wrote a lot of her novel while her children were sleeping. Are your kids sleeping now? Overnight success – a book deal for three novels, fans across the world could not wait for the next enthralling chapters of the Twilight novels. Launching the careers of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison, the world was also delighted when the onscreen romance kindled an off-screen one.

Were you Team Jacob or Team Edward? A writer, a novel, a worldwide sensation, The Twilight series spawned similar novels and an entirely new interest in the vampire genre – werewolves and love stories that have inspired new television series. And writers like E.L. James fell in love with the story and created her own romantic best seller. What does success look like to some people?

Ms. Meyer probably never quite imagined the scale of success she would achieve with this cult classic series and film. In fact, Bella has become one of the most popular children’s names in recent years – and Edward and Jacob are up there too on the popularity lists. It was a dream that inspired her, a story that grew page by page, moment by moment until Edward and Bella’s love story came into being. Gracing the silver screen, her novels became blockbuster successes, too.

13. Phil Robertson: Getting His Ducks in a Row

Could you turn your hobby into a multi-million dollar business? Would you give up another career to pursue it? Could you launch an empire by working on your hobbies? That is precisely what Phil Robertson did. An avid duck hunter, he wasn’t satisfied with the equipment available on the market.

He wanted to design a duck call that would sound exactly like a duck. You may or may not know that hunters use calls to attract ducks. Traditionally duck hunters used a pure wood or acrylic type of whistle or flute to make a duck call. It’s not as simple as it sounds. You have to learn to breathe correctly, expel air and say words like, “duga” to produce the sounds a duck makes. Some hunters learn to copy the sounds.

Early inventors tried their hand at numerous gadgets to make duck calls. Some first editions included metal, but they froze onto the hunter’s lips. Some used the tongue too, so they were anything but user-friendly. Hunters have been trying to sound like a duck for centuries, across the globe.

Phil Robertson revolutionized modern duck hunting. There was no need to learn how to quack or use the techniques to master professional duck calling. Phil’s invention, which he patented as the Duck Commander Call started a Duck Dynasty. The TV series was a favorite and the family business has grown.

Do you have a hobby you are passionate about? Is there something you would like to change or improve? You may not be the only one who feels like that. You could redesign something and launch an empire. An overnight success and your reality TV show could be waiting for you. Phil chose to pursue his duck hunting passion over a career as a professional football player for the NFL.

14. Konosuke Matsushita: Heroes and Zeros

Do you have an idea for improving something in your line of work? Have you had a chat with your boss about your plan? Many years ago in Japan, Konosuke Matsushita approached his boss to discuss an idea he had for improving light sockets. His thoughts fell on deaf ears, but he continued and made some anyway in his basement at home.

Konosuke worked for the Osaka Electric Company. They did not know it, but they were employing a bright spark. Although he was an apprentice only in his 20’s, he was already thinking big. Matsushita continued working from home and expanded into improving other electronic goods and batteries. Eventually, he started his own company, Matsushita Electric.

You may not have heard of the Osaka Electric Company, but there is an excellent chance you have heard of Panasonic. In 2008 Matsushita changed its name and has come a long way from initially making battery-powered bicycle lamps. Do you have a light bulb genius idea? Keep working on your concepts. You may just launch a global company that is worth around $66 billion.

Imagine a million dollars. Now multiply it by a thousand to get $1,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros. Now multiply it by 66. The Panasonic Empire may not have mushroomed overnight, but Matsushita was a success.

He went from an uneducated apprentice to a captain of an industry all started with a light bulb moment. He saw a way to improve a light socket, ignored his boss’s dismissal and followed his idea through to fruition. And speaking of famous fruit, you might guess who the next success heroes are on this list.

15. Jobs and Wozniak: Refusing to Give Up Their Dreams

How many Apple devices do your own? If you are loyal to another brand, then you haven’t experienced the tech genius of Apple. It dominates the top end devices that help you navigate the digital age. Have you dropped out of college to work on a business plan instead? If so, you are not alone. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ron Wayne all worked for Atari.

What did they have going for them? Were there proverbial ducks in a line? Where would they be in a few years? They would be some of the most successful men in the world. Apple, iPhone, iPads and iPods are a part of our lives as much as breathing. Where would you be today, without the magic of Apple? Where would the world of technology be if this trio decided to get regular jobs and stop playing Atari games?

Refusing to give up on their dreams, they created one of the biggest, most successful companies on the planet. Do you have friends with the same passions and hobbies? Where could your friendship and shared passions lead you? The late Steve Jobs and Apple have become global icons.

Apple stands for modern technology and devices in all their forms. They have presented the world with phones, computers, laptops, watches, entertainment and information meeting at the cutting edge of the future. They pulled software, hardware, design together in the trendiest of packaging.

The sleek power of a Mac, the programming genius of Apple will propel us forward into the 21st Century at light speed. People camp out, stand in line, and order their Apple devices months in advance. Not many consumers are loyal to products like they are to their Apple devices. This trio’s success is the kind that goes global to infinity and beyond.

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