How Long Does It REALLY Take To Become “Successful”?

For a long time, I was EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED.

I was sick of being stuck in the same place, and I would have done anything to get massive results really quickly.

In fact, I thought since I was a cool, nice (albeit mildly vain) person, that I DESERVED to get that massive success. After all, who else would deserve it more than me?

As weird as it sounds, I often measured myself after rappers my age.


Drake and J. Cole

I actually don’t know why I would bother modeling my success after them. Drake and Cole are cool and all…but I don’t want to be a rapper.

I don’t desire that skill set, want to run in that circle or live that life. In terms of practical, actionable steps, our paths have literally NOTHING in common.

But society told me that’s what being young and “successful” looked like, so that’s what I wanted.

I remember actually feeling jealous of young entertainers and thinking…

“Why not me?”

“How long is this supposed to take?”

“When is my turn?”

“What do THEY have that I don’t? I’m just as special!”

Ha. Oh god, I’m cringing just reading a paraphrased quote of myself.

Much like those Facebook posts above, clearly, I didn’t “get it.”

I didn’t really see any difference between myself, and others who’d achieved notable success at my age.

Eventually I got over myself, got busy and made things happen. I hadn’t really thought about that period of my life in a while.

Until recently…

When I was scrolling through Spotify this weekend, it suddenly clicked.

I realized exactly WHY I was so dissatisfied with myself during my early 20’s.

The success timeline

Check out Drake’s album timeline…


Drake’s albums since 2009. Yes, I’m listening to “Rich Off Cocaine.” Back up off me.

I count 4 individual albums since 2009. But that doesn’t tell the whole story, does it?

If you’ve been following Drake’s career, you know that he put out Comeback Season in 2007…


Comeback Season was a really great mixtape. Production was solid.

But not so fast. Don’t forget that he also dropped Room For Improvement in 2006…


Room For Improvement

And let’s be honest…do you think that 2006 was the first time he ever picked up a microphone or got the urge to start rapping?


Even in ’04-’05 when nobody took him seriously or cared about Drake the rapper, Aubrey Graham was sharpening his skills spitting CORNY flows on daytime television for preteen girls!!!

Drake’s part starts at 0:44

Ahhhh, now it’s ALL starting to make sense.

Someone these days will look at Drake and say, “Wow, he’s so young. He’s so LUCKY!! How much work could he REALLY have put in?”

My response: OVER A DECADE of documented work, actually.

How many of us have done ANYTHING for a decade besides eat and poop at this stage in our lives?

(School doesn’t really count. You were forced to do most of that.)

So in response to the questions: “How long does it take to become successful?” and “What about ME? When is it my turn?” I suggest this — don’t get frustrated when, after trying something for a few months (or even a few years) you’re not getting the money, recognition, fame or freedom that you want.

Stop comparing yourself to the CURRENT success of other people who are your age — the Zuckerbergs and Drakes of the world.

That’s like comparing their “finishing position” to your “starting position.”

It’s not fair to you, and it’s not an accurate representation of where you are, or how far you’ve come.

Instead, compare yourself to their beginnings.

Think about Zuckerberg the first time he EVER wrote a line of code.

Was he a billionaire tech guru? No, he was a clueless beginner.

Think about the very first time Drake EVER picked up a mike.

Was he a Grammy winning rapper, with millions in the bank? No, he was a nerdy kid in the basement.

THAT’S YOUR BASELINE. Go from there.

If you’re going to judge yourself at all, judge yourself against THAT.

Now, take a deep breath and think about where you are.

Doesn’t that feel better?

Not so bad, huh?

Realize that most overnight success takes a decade of silent hustle.

And then, keep hustling.

PS — Who else can you think of that fits this description?

Who else can you think of, either in the public eye or your personal life that put in many years of hustle in the background before coming an “overnight” success?

For me, Tiger Woods also comes to mind.

One of the greatest golfers ever, sure.

But he’s been golfing since he was THREE.

Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?

Think of someone and leave their name in the comments. 

It will help us if the whole tribe can see just how many “successful” people really put in years of work before making it.


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Daniel DiPiazza

Daniel is the founder and CEO of Rich20Something.

A millennial business mastermind, he has successfully started three consecutive freelance businesses and scaled them to over $100K in revenue with zero startup capital. His work is regularly featured in Time Magazine, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fox News, and Yahoo! Business.

His debut book, Rich20Something, publishes on May 2, 2017.

  • AnuragKansal

    If you read the book ‘Outliers’, it mentions that if you carefully analyze the background of successful people, most of them have spent practising their art for at least 10000 hours before they became successful. The author has provided data for people like Mozart, Bill Gates etc. So practicing for 10000 hours is the key to success.

  • Zach Grove

    While we’re talking about rappers…I used to marvel at how Eminem “came out of nowhere” in the late 90s, killed Jay Z on “Renegade,” and reinvented the art form overnight. But I recently heard his horrible first project, “Soul Intent” by M&M, and it definitely made me think…

    Practice isn’t sexy to talk and write about, but it’s the path to mastery.

  • Justin Tan

    Hey Dan, great post on what it really takes to be successful. I think Anurag really captured your point by bringing up Outliers an the 10,000 hour rule. It can be so much harder to not compare ourselves with the successful given how easily Facebook and Twitter push us on that direction, but hopefully we can use that as inspiration to push ourselves harder instead of a stick to beat ourselves with. Looking forward to reading your next article!

  • practicalcivilization

    Great point to start a Monday off right Daniel “Colossus” DiPiazza! Haha. Having studied music myself and the musicians that inspire me, I’m going to go ahead and add pretty much any musician to the list. True, many musicians have things work out quicker than others and have the right person hear them, but either way, dedication to the art of music and grinding it out with no one listening is what has to happen first. 

    This mindset/fact applies to any business or art (music tends to straddle both). 

    Everyone knows the Beatles. Some people don’t realize that they spent several years playing shitty clubs in Hamburg, Germany. Some nights they were booked to play the entire time. Like 10-12 hours straight. They were not yet known and had to grind it out, learn how to perform, etc. 

    So yes, even the Beatles had to hustle before they became the most important band in the world. 

    Key take-away from this: you have to love what you’re doing first and be willing to do it for free without recognition, notoriety, etc.

  • Rich20Something

    Tiffany Lee Very true, T! Can you think of someone else that fits the bill of starting from the bottom? 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    @Jackson Anderson VERY, VERY cool! Another thing that happens, like you mentioned, is that we forget exactly how far we’ve come — and our perception of progress gets skewed.

    Do you find that happening with BMX?

  • Rich20Something

    Justin Tan Oh man, such a great point.

    Now time other than now has there been so much public peer pressure!!

    Sucks, doesn’t it?

  • Rich20Something

    Zach Grove By definition, nobody can really come out of nowhere. So if we analyze the origin story, oftentimes we can find some helpful tidbits that make us feel better about our own progress 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    AnuragKansal I like Gladwell, don’t always agree with his exact numbers, but can get behind the spirit of his research. Have you read any of his other stuff?

  • Rich20Something

    practicalcivilization Slightly off topic — favorite Beatles song?

  • practicalcivilization

    Rich20Something practicalcivilization Blackbird. This song was one of the reasons I began playing guitar.

  • Rich20Something Most definitely man! 
    The best way I think I can put it is like I’m now at a level it’s like why can’t I just do everything in my head first go even if I’ve never attempted it? Like surely I’ve done enough of every other trick for it to just work?
    Of course this isn’t the case but it’s definitely a perception my mind holds from time to time!

  • FreshFaya

    Wow, thanks Daniel. This post I really needed to see right now. Am currently writing this on my break at the day job that gives me endless grief… It’s not like the work itself is bad or the people are awful (they’re some of the best people to work with actually) but I just HATE this place right now cos I know I cld so so much better if I put that work in, consistently.
    Cheers for the post again, sometimes you just need to hear someone else say it, to acknowledge what your feeling.

  • FreshFaya

    Wow, thanks Daniel. This post I really needed to see right now. Am currently writing this on my break at the day job that gives me endless grief… It’s not like the work itself is bad or the people are awful (they’re some of the best people to work with actually) but I just HATE this place right now cos I know I cld so so much better if I put that work in, consistently.
    Cheers for the post again, sometimes you just need to hear someone else say it, to acknowledge what your feeling.
    Oh and i’m feeling your song choice on that Richer Than Rap LP. Magnificent is my jam tho ha!

  • Rich20Something

    FreshFaya Glad this helped 🙂

    What’s something you say to yourself to push through a tough day when you’re mentally exhausted or just don’t want to be there?

  • Rich20Something

    practicalcivilization I love that song. Let’s have a “play-off.”

    Shoot your video and post it here. I’ll shoot mine.

    No doubt you’ll destroy me, but it’ll be fun 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    @Jackson Anderson I completely get that analogy. 

    Got any videos?

  • Rich20Something Tiffany Lee Yes, I’ve recently learned about a woman named Asha Tyson who went from being homeless at 17 to “retired” by the time she was 26.  She didn’t have any resources or advantages and she took a chance on getting an education and working her way up.  Then she realized she wasn’t fulfilled so she quit and started working for herself.  Her story is really inspirational.  Here is a link with more info if you’re interested:


    Great read. Very much like Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory.

    I’m actually closing in on almost 10 years of rapping myself–although I haven’t committed to it at nearly the level of professionals. I did just do my first ever live show over the weekend though and it was so much fun, maybe I’ll be on your spotify playlist someday 🙂

    Anyway, other examples: MJ (anyone, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson…#RIPBiggie), Gates, Jobs, the list goes on!

  • I can’t help but to think point #2 was about me… after that book post last week…

  • FreshFaya

    I’d be lying to you if I told u I was telling myself something positive to push myself to the end.of the shift.
    But in my mind, I’m usually telling myself, “when you get home, just continue working on building your Internet business and you’ll leave this godforsaken hamster wheel eventually”
    Or I just go to one or two of those people that I work with that are blessed with an undying positive attitude and an ability to make me laugh even when I don’t want to…
    Even a simple response to a basic question like “how are you” to these individuals and their random answers have me rolling. I’m blessed to work with people like this when I think about it.

  • Rich20Something Old one from last year man, currently filming for a new one atm!

  • Rich20Something

    @Dan McDaniel Haha, which post?

  • Rich20Something

    practicalcivilization OK, I definitely messed up a few times here but I haven’t played this song in  a while!! Your turn!

  • Rich20Something


  • Rich20Something It was one of the last comments on this article:

    You asked me about my book, and I shared the link. The subtitle is “reflections of a 19-year-old philospher.”

    There’s just no way that’s a coincidence…

  • Macy1029

    Totally correct about the Beatles.ILiked the song “So now it’s Christmas”. I know that’s not the title but hopefully you’ll know what I’m talking about.For those not in the entertainment business why would you compare yourself to these famous people? I don’t think all these comparisons are worth much-they are a waste of time. For me I had almost ten years before I became successful. I just sort of kept my head down and worked hard and I did not get lost in comparisons. Comparisons are distracting and if you are on the path of success there is no room for distractions. And keep in mind that there are many different definitions of success–it is not a one size fits all.
    Daniel, very well thought out article-I am amazed that I can get some direction from your articles at this point in my life.

  • Rich20Something

    @Dan McDaniel Hahaha, that’s hilarious — especially since I debated between whether to put 19, 20 or 21.

    Rest assured, it’s not about you. There’s even a screenshot of my own post. It’s all deprecating 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    Macy1029 If anyone is wondering, that’s my grandma ^^ 🙂 Love you!

  • Macy1029

    Daniel, I for one really liked you video and your singing and playing was wonderful.

  • mattobrien118

    My suggestions are Jose Bautista of the Toronoto Blue Jays or from years past, Luis Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Granted they were in the big leagues but until someone changed their swing they weren’t the superstars they came to be later in the careers.
    -Matt O’Brien

  • Rich20Something


  • practicalcivilization

    Rich20Something practicalcivilization Haha, thanks man. I still need to work on the singing part. Nailing those high notes is tough. So I’ll just still to whistling for now 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    mattobrien118 Any good videos of great plays?

  • Rich20Something

    mattobrien118 Any good videos of great plays?

  • Rich20Something

    RajNATION Have you read the Jobs book by Walter Isaacson?

  • Rich20Something

    FreshFaya Very true — it’s so crucial to have people you actually enjoy being around.

  • Rich20Something

    practicalcivilization Rich20Something I disrespected the vocals, but had fun with it. That’s what counts, right?

  • Rich20Something

    practicalcivilization Rich20Something

  • Rich20Something

    @Jackson Anderson Rich20Something HOLY CRAP. HOW ARE YOU A REAL PERSON??

    SO COOL!!!

  • JulietAnnerino

    Sweetest version of “Blackbird”, D! Thank you for that 🙂

  • JulietAnnerino

    Rich20Something Macy1029 Wow! She must be very proud of you, D. Great article and excellent advice. Best to keep true to your heart’s calling and not be distracted by what you think others have accomplished!

  • JulietAnnerino

    Tiffany Lee Rich20Something Thanks, Tiffany! I will check her out for inspiration 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    JulietAnnerino Rich20Something Macy1029 She’s TOO proud. Trust me.

  • Rich20Something

    JulietAnnerino Your turn?

  • Rich20Something

    JulietAnnerino you really need to scroll down and check out practicalcivilization ‘s rendition. Smoked me! 🙂

  • JulietAnnerino

    Rich20Something JulietAnnerino practicalcivilization He is great, too! I like that song, but learning/recording that would interfere with my current flow of ADD fun! (Copy writing, song writing, rehearsal-strategizing…oh, and sleeping!) How do you do all the things you do? You’re amazing!


    Rich20Something RajNATION I have not

  • Justin Tan

    Rich20Something Justin Tan Yea it can really make us forget the big picture and try to get the results now without being patience and doing things correctly. It’s tough, but hey if it wasn’t tough, then it wouldn’t be worth getting to right?

  • TheAjax


    I guess not. Maybe a thousandaire.

  • Rich20Something haha! Thanks man, glad you enjoyed it!
    Guess that shows what 8 years of dedication can create ey 😛
    Now to get the same shit going in my business life and fuck this 9-5 right off!!

  • Rich20Something

    JulietAnnerino Rich20Something practicalcivilization No sleep, of course 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    TheAjax Rich20Something Woop, woop! New word! Stealing that 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    RajNATION Rich20Something Holy crap do yourself a favor:

  • Rich20Something

    Macy1029 Thanks gma, you’re sweet 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    @Jackson Anderson Rich20Something Dude, you clearly have the dedication and ability. So cool. Looking for great things from you!

  • Rich20Something

    Justin Tan Rich20Something absolutely!

  • Love this post.


    Rich20Something RajNATION haha consider it on my list

  • Daniela

    Macklemore 🙂

  • Rich20Something

    @Daniela This is your request?

  • Rich20Something

    @Erica Happy to be of service 🙂

  • WadukaDaniel

    Wow. This has made my day. Thanks.