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The Unglamorous Secret of Success

A transparent photo of a man over another photo of someone climbing a mountain

This past year has been an interesting one for my career.

I want to share the secret of success as it looks today, but first, let’s back up a little …

I never really thought I had a career. What I had was a business.

Over the years, I measured my success by whether my profits went up or down; whether I was getting regular referrals; and — in recent years — whether my audience was growing.

And all of the above have grown steadily over the years, I’m happy to say.

More recently, I’ve realized that I have a career, too.

I’m now working for Copyblogger Media. A few weeks ago, I was given the responsibility of taking over management of the Copyblogger blog.

It’s one of the most successful marketing blogs in the world. I’m truly honored.

Today, I want to tell you why I’ve had the success I’ve had, both in my business and my career.

It all boils down to one trait — the most important one of all, I’ve found.

The secret of success isn’t glamorous

Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.
–Napoleon Hill

I love the quote above. To me, these three traits are the “3 Ps” of business success.

Patience means not expecting exceptional success right out of the gate. It means recognizing you’ll have to put in time if you want to see results.

Persistence means not giving up, even after you’ve been at it for a while, and despite not experiencing immediate results.

Perspiration simply means hard work. It means squeezing every ounce of creative thinking and effort from your day, and pouring it into the projects you’re working on.

Of these, the one that has made the biggest difference to my career is persistence.

The “P” word that changes everything

It’s not glamorous. It’s not fashionable. And it’s not always fun.

But persistence is the single trait that will make the biggest difference in your life.

Persistence is the secret of success in my book.

There have been plenty of times I’ve wanted to give up over the years. Let’s review:

  • When I found myself — shortly after starting my business — moving from the United States to a foreign country where I’d have to run my business in another language and culture.
  • When my biggest client (in terms of invoicing) dropped me suddenly — through no fault of my own — from one day to the next. This has happened twice in the life of my business!
  • When I devoted a full year to establishing a presence on the web, and my new online business wasn’t earning enough to make it my primary focus. (Yup: that really happened.)

I realize that from your vantage point, it may look like I’ve had an easy time.

Like my business and career have been smooth sailing all the way.

And I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.

The one trait that has seen me through

I used to smile and tell people, “Persistence is my middle name.”

It was a joke. But you know what? It’s kind of true.

The twists, turns, challenges, and defeats I’ve experienced? Persistence is the trait that has most helped me get past them.

Once again — persistence is the secret of success.

In some cases, it may have looked more like this:

Persistence … in the face of factual evidence to the contrary. –Garrison Keillor

Because sometimes you have to persist, push, and keep going even when you think, “Life is trying to send me a message.”

Yes, sometimes Life throws a wrench in your plans. But you have a choice about how you interpret every turn of event.

You can see it as a sign to give up.

Or you can see it as a sign to learn, adapt, and forge ahead, maybe along a slightly different path.

Guess which one I tend to choose?

Persistence means seeing challenges as opportunities. –Pamela Wilson

I leave you with the wise words of the Weebles commercial of my youth.

Next time Life throws a wrench in your plans, or you feel like giving up your dreams, remember:

“Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”

Don’t give up. Keep going. It’s the secret of success.

It’s fine to wobble, but don’t fall down and stay there.

You can do it: I believe in you!

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.

76 thoughts on “The Unglamorous Secret of Success”

  1. I’ve been preaching this to folks for years, Pamela – and listening to them dismiss it – so glad it paid off for you. It nearly always does. Though – if one listens to the MSM it’s more about being < 30, being total genius and looking great in tee-shirt and jeans, while shouting "Awesome, Awesome Awesome!."

    Enjoy the success! 🙂

    • If it took being under 30 and a total genius who looks great in a t-shirt and jeans, I’d be in BIG trouble, Scott.

      Although I can definitely to the “awesome-awesome-awesome” thing, so there’s that! 😉

  2. You are who you hang with. You’re hanging with the right people. Congratulations on your new Copyblogger adventure.

    “Persistence means seeing challenges as opportunities. –Pamela Wilson”

    Couldn’t be more true. Keep it going Pamela.

    • Thanks so much, Bill.

      I’d worked for myself for so many years that when I was offered the job, I had to think hard about whether I really wanted to work for someone else.

      This may be the only company I’d ever consider working for: the fact that they pulled me away from 20+ years of self employment speaks volumes, in my opinion.

  3. Totally agree! For years — since way back in college — my own motto has been “Patience, Persistence, Perseverance”. I go back to it again and again and again… I didn’t know about Napoleon Hill’s quote until your post! That’s very cool! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  4. Congratulations, Pamela Wilson. I applaud your ability to manage your resources in a way that keeps the persistence flame going over the long haul. Can you tell me how you find encouragement to keep that up on a steady basis?

    • Good question, Steve.

      I think I’m naturally kind of driven: always have been. And I’m kind of competitive with myself: I always want to do things better than I’ve done them before.

      And, I must say, I’m fortunate to have someone in my life who is consistently encouraging, too. He’s been a part of my life for the last ten years. Having someone right there next to you who believes in you 100% helps you keep your spirits up when times are tough (and there are always tough times).

      • Hi Pamela, and once again congratulations on your new gig!

        Your post and comment here suggested some more “P’s” as success secrets:
        – Positive attitude (this one is probably implicit in the others, as Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
        – People – if you’re going to have a business or career to make successful, you need other people, at a bare minimum one customer; NOBODY ever built a business by themselves
        – Partners – including our life partners (I, too, am blessed with mine); although this one is maybe not an absolute essential, it is most certainly a nice-to-have when we encounter those “difficulties” and are having a hard time seeing the opportunities in them!

  5. Pamela, thanks for sharing so much truth. I think you have so much to offer, and you have provided so much value here on Big Brand System. And your readers and clients are the beneficiaries of your persistence. I imagine as you persist forward there is a delicate balance between progressing and remaining genuine. I hope you are able to walk that line to your satisfaction. You certainly deserve every success…

  6. Thanks for sharing this (and getting me to sing the Weebles jingle all day). I think so many people think that success is an overnight thing because they weren’t there to witness the many twists, turns, and obstacles that successful business owners embrace and overcome. Someone said to me that she would have an easier time if she had my luck and success. I told her that she could do the same by putting in the work to overcome the same types of challenges.

    Congratulations Pamela!

    • You know what I love about that commercial? They say “Weebles help kids learn about the world around them.”

      And it’s true! We’re all going to wobble just as much as we stay upright. You’re right that expecting that and embracing it is the secret, Angela.

  7. Pamela, have enjoyed following you (and learning from you) the past couple of years.

    Thirty years as a Disney insider have taught this: It ain’t the magic that makes it work, it’s the work that makes it magic.

    The long way is the short cut.

    Here’s to 2015 being your best year ever.

  8. Such a good reminder, Pamela. I needed to hear this, esp. this week. I’ve gone so far as to ASK for signs and guidance and the ones I’ve received have clearly indicated “Keep going!”

  9. Weebles are awesome. And so are you Pamela Persistence Wilson! Thanks for sharing your secret and for being an inspiration. Any secrets for getting the Weebles song out of my head now? 🙂

  10. Pamela,
    Congrats! That is one of the best, having such a dynamic group of creative people believe and trust in your visionary abilities. I have one burning question and since it looks like you are very responsive I figure I might as well put it out there.

    Many are running in the direction of having a setup like Big Brand System in place to leverage creative output over the long haul over working for someone in the traditional sense. Yet you now work for Copyblogger. It might be that working with people (which is a huge win given all the creative ideas in the room!) is now more enticing? Yet how do you get around the trade of time for money?

    I hope this doesn’t come off at being impolite. My intention isn’t to get into details of your private arrangements but rather to understand the motivations as it might apply to myself or others juggling the entrepreneurial landscape. Some hints or thoughts on this would be great.

    Been an Authority member for awhile now, needing to catch up on all the great content.

    Thanks Pamela!


    • Hi Wyatt,

      You’re right: working with others is great, and it was something I missed from my offline business days, where I was constantly on the phone or in meetings with clients.

      A strictly online business has many advantages, but it turns out I like people, and one of the things I missed since turning my focus to Big Brand System was interacting with people on a regular basis.

      At Copyblogger, I interact with colleagues, but also have the opportunity to interact with the community, both online and at events. I’ve really enjoyed that, and realize now how much I missed it.

  11. Well, I’ll be darned! We share the same middle name. 😉

    I’ll go out on a limb and take a risk here, Pamela, and confess (for the whole world-wide web to see) it’s taken well over a decade of persistence to FINALLY see some light at the end of the tunnel. I have a stubborn nature and I’m a gal who refuses to give up without a fight.

    You’re 2000% right: Persistence, patience, and perspiration are far from glamorous … but the rewards can be glorious. 🙂

    Kudos and cupcakes for your revered position at Copyblogger! Well deserved. Their blog couldn’t be in better hands.

  12. Great on you Pamela! From my own experience it’s not the wrenches that throw us off course so much as how we respond to them. It seems that you’re responding in a way that will in the end bear much fruit for you and others — AND in the process becoming wiser and more understanding! Way to go. Thanks very much for the encouragement and for sharing your very human vulnerability.

  13. Thank goodness you persisted, Pamela. I wouldn’t have made the progress in my own business and career without the training and guidance I’ve gotten from working with you and your various programs over the years, not to mention all the additional gems gleaned from you by the wonderful consistent and persistent examples you show us by what you’ve done and continue to do. You’re an inspiration. Thank you for telling it like it is and continuing to share your gifts and talents.

    • Kat, this is so great: thank you.

      You’ve been one of my big supporters over the years. I so appreciated having customers like you who were active participants, and who offered valuable feedback.

      It helped me build a business that met the needs of the people I wanted to serve!

  14. Pamela, I recently lost my biggest client – also through no fault of my own, with no warning, and on the day their next payment should have been deposited into my account.

    Came at an awful time (is there ever a good time?), and, quite honestly, it knocked me on my butt for a bit. I think that has more to do with the fact that I was already knocked half-sideways by other things that have “popped up” over the last year and a half (been a relentless testing of my Pollyanna-ish nature ;-), but although this Weeble may be a little slow on the rebound, I’ve channeled by negative feelings into exacting that “best revenge” – living well. So, onward I go, wobbling is definitely part of life, it’s just up to us to decide that returning our lives to the upright position is in our best interest and (as they say here in Virginia) “gettin’ ‘er done”.

    Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your well earned success.

    • Oh, how awful. I certainly know how that feels. 🙁

      If it’s any consolation, the months immediately following the times it happened to me (twice) were miserable. Really terrible.

      But when I look back, that’s the soil that everything that came afterward grew in. It’s because those things happened that I was forced to take stock, re-think, and change my approach.

      I wish the same for you, Penny. Here’s to better days ahead!

      • Thanks, Pamela. Happened to me twice, too! In the period of 13 months.

        I am finding that I’m “developing the soil” as well, and seeds are starting to sprout with all the extra fertilizer I’ve been gifted 🙂

        Here’s to happy harvests!

  15. Excellent post, Pamela. Great guidance for new to biz folks, a terrific reminder for those of us who have used the 3P’ for years AND a high5! Celebration of what’s worked well!!

  16. Great educational comment as usual Pamela. “Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success”. I think we forget this too often and think since we’re smart we can take shortcuts. But I know that doesn’t work so I keep following the proven path to success. It sure can take longer but it pays off.

  17. Pamela, I’d say it’s unanimous that WE also benefit from YOUR patience, persistence, and perspiration. I am newly independent, have been for only a few months now. The 3 P’s are driving me forward, though I hadn’t thought about it. Now reading your excellent post, I will make them my mantra going forward!!

    Congrats on your new work station. Before you took the leap, two of my absolute favourite blogs to read were BIG BRAND SYSTEM and Copybloggers. Are you keeping BBS alive? I had thought it came to an end, but you alluded to it at the beginning of this article.

    In any case, thanks for all you do, including posting your Weeble-Wobble commercial. Wow…two memorable mantra take-aways in one post!! 🙂

  18. Pamela, WOW-what a great post and now we are talking about the real things that happen in business on line.
    Yesterday I refunded a customer’s money because I learned my guide was not downloading. The PDF file was not located in my Word Press media and other backstage area. So, a wench got in the works. The upside is more important. I now have a new and friendly business relationship who will wait for my revised guide edition. And, I now have the extra motivation to get the revision done as well as rebuild the web site.

    That wrench has many wonderful opportunities.

    And thank you for all of your deep seated comments and observations. Giving up has never been in my DNA. Sometimes called unpleasant names by those around me but I have the satisfaction of knowing I can do things when I do persist and persevere. Thanks, Pamela–enjoy reading “your light”. Bob

    • That’s a great way to look at something that could have been a big bummer: feeling like you let down a customer is never fun. But when that customer gives you the opportunity to make things right, everything changes!

      Best of luck with it all, Bob. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  19. Hi Pamela,
    Thank you for your recent article, I have been a loyal reader for many years, and have felt your strugles through the times.
    I am very happy that you are now with CopyBlogger, who I have enjoyed being with for a bout the same length of time.
    Best wishes for your new carrier, Love and Blessings Annamarie

  20. Okay, but I have a question: when you’re talking about online business, will all businesses succeed if you just keep at it, or is it possible to . . . pick the wrong name (or domain name) . . . target the wrong audience . . . or do something else that dooms you to failure?

    I keep second-guessing myself — maybe I should try this, maybe I should do that instead . . . I don’t mind keeping at it, and I’m generally a rather persistent person, but what if I never get enough traffic, what if I never make any money and have nothing to show for all of this hard work? How do you know if you’re on the right track and you just need to work a bit longer at it, vs. you might as well give up now because this will never amount to anything. ??

    • Beelissa, there are definitely times we have to “see it as a sign to learn, adapt, and forge ahead, maybe along a slightly different path,” as I say in the post.

      It’s not about persisting along the same path blindly. If you’re not getting the results you expected, don’t be afraid to make changes and try something different … or try several different things, and watch carefully to see which one gives you the best results.

      Once you see something’s working, do more of it. I know that sounds simplistic, but that’s what it boils down to in business:

      Try different things. Do less of the things that don’t work. Do more of the things that do.

      Good luck!

  21. Pamela,
    Thanks so much for your message today. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. I quit a job in sales five years ago to become a writer. Four years later I finished the first draft of my first book. And then last September I got an agent. Everything seemed to be going well. Then I spent four months watching a hospital starve my father to death. We buried him over Christmas and I’ve been in a funk ever since. Didn’t feel like writing anymore. Didn’t feel like doing much of anything else. But your words gave me hope today. And now I realize that it’s time to get back in the saddle. Thank you.


    • I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, Martin. My sincere condolences.

      Here’s wishing you safe travels now that you’re back in the saddle. I’m betting your dad would be proud to see you there.

  22. Great post, Pamela! I know this is a message I can’t hear often enough.

    The Weebles ad is a great memory–one of those jingles that I still think of, and come to think of it fairly often.

    I look forward to seeing you at the Rainmaker event in May.

  23. First of all, HUGE congratulations Pamela!! Well-deserved and yes, Copyblogger is smart to bet on you:)

    Next thank YOU for sharing your 3 P’s. They’re pretty much our {my husband and mine’s} business motto as well. As “easy” as running an online business may look from the outside, for those of us living it, it can be quite a “tough” cookie at times 🙂

    Persistence is what’s seen me come so far and your story has further inspired me to tweak, change, adapt but most importantly, persist 😉

    Thanks Pamela!

  24. I would add “focus” to the list. At least for me personally it has been a challenge to stay on track and don’t get distracted by new ideas and opportunities. Especially when you don’t see immediate results.

    • I see this a lot, Nora. People stay in “learning mode” far too long.

      As long as we’re learning, we’re doing something productive, right? But learning can be a huge distraction and keeps us from focusing on our businesses.

      Thanks for the comment!

  25. Love this! You’re such an awesome example of the value of showing up *consistently* and with a great attitude, along with keeping your eyes open and adjusting to the realities of what’s there.

    Will refrain from bursting into a chorus of, “She never stops, she’s a go-getter” …

  26. Love this! Great insights Pamela. I’ve been preaching something similar for years, except my mantra is “Doing the right things, long enough, consistently.”

    Patience, Persistence, and Perspiration are definitely right up there as well!

  27. Persistence is the great equalizer. It doesn’t care how much you know, how big your bank account is, how large your audience is, or how much potential you have. It is completely agnostic. But it rewards those who make it part of their character, part of their routine, part of who they are.

    Thank you Pamela (should we make you the 4th “P”?)

    btw – Hit Publish is fantastic!

    • I agree: persistence alone overcomes a lot of the barriers business puts in front of us.

      And the fourth “P” would have to be the people reading this blog, not me. You’re patiently doing the work and putting in the perspiration and persistence required. 🙂

  28. More Power to the 3 P’s, Pamela (ooh, another “P”). It is has been great to watch – and learn – from you over these years. I appreciate your honest and encouragement. Especially the reminder of “even when you think Life is trying to send you a message.” This was a perfectly timed post, especially as we enter Q2 and the season changes. Keep on with your persistent self!

  29. after being inspired I would like to express my favourite say:

    “Greatness doesn’t lie in never falling, but raising everytime you fall.” I have heard this for the first time in 2003 and since then I am in love with this.

    I always tend to compare things, concepts and even people, I always wondered is it Karma that has been already prewritten that make successful people and ordinary people. And of course many such questions, we also have a board in our office, WindowSquare, to display the questions of any kind. Because we believe having the question clear is the half-way to answer.

    I have a question, please find it below if you don’t mind huge paragraphs:

    After a certain age/exposure/conscious levels we keep learning in life. Lets say (examples) I’ve learnt a lesson ‘a'(staying healthy is very important) and then I have learnt ‘b’ (courage is what we need) and then ‘c’ (Being helpful to others gives you enormous satisfaction) and so on etc like (being flexible makes you more sustainable). My question is the moment I learnt ‘b’ I think ‘a’ starts fading out and the moment I learn ‘c’, ‘a’ completely disappears and ‘b’ starts fading out, and the journey of learning continuous in similar fashion, so that we unlearn or do not practise so many good things that we have learned in our life. Can someone tell me how do I ensure that I don’t unlearn or fade out my learnings?

    One way I do this is by writting down the lessons I learnt in a book and revising them at times. Can anyone tell me how can we integrate basics into us.

    • Saikrishna, I think writing things down as you learn them is an excellent way to remember and build on what you learn.

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