The Path Of The Overnight Success

What is the link between Maurizo Cattelan, the artist who duck-taped a banana on a wall, and sold it for $120.000 and Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon?

In their beginnings, neither Maurizo Cattelan, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma and myself were not taken seriously about our goals and projects Jack Ma has been refused 30x times applying for a job. Nobody believed in Jeff Bezos giving up his high paid wall-street job.

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I am sure all of you remember the piece of work from Maurizio Cattelan sold for $120.000.

Did you know Maurizio Cattelan was often seen as a joker or prankster in the art world because of the satirical approach to art? Meaning, some people thought he was bullshit. Some of you still feel he is :)

Cattelan’s first artwork was noted in 1989; it took ten years before he got his first exposition during the Carrabein Biennial in 1999. We can say his fame started to take off that same year with exhibitions at “The Kunsthalle” in Bassel and the “Museum of Modern Art” in New York (1999) Ten years!

Does anyone know who this person is? Yes, it is Jeff Bezos, the founder of the well-known Amazon. Jeff Bezos was sitting at his desk in 1994. This picture is not an artwork.

In their beginnings, neither Cattelan, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma and I were not taken seriously about our goals and projects Jack Ma has been refused 30x times applying for a job. Nobody believed in Jeff Bezos giving up his high paid wall-street job.

Most of us hear only about the successes. The $120.000 for a banana, the trillion valuations of a company. What is more interesting for me is to know how do we move from the beginning to the end? What happens in that black box, in the middle? Does some science exist, a set of rules we can implement to make our idea successful?

Let’s go back to the art world. If Cattelan had created the banana duck-taped as his first piece of art, he probably would not have been successful and certainly not been sold for $120.000. His first piece of art was a self-portrait.

Jeff Bezos didn’t start with prime subscriptions; he didn’t start with his fleet of aeroplanes or buying Whole Foods. He began with books and books only.

Myself, I was born before personal computers, and mobile phones existed. I was supposed to run a construction distribution company.

Cattelan didn’t have an art education; he educated himself; he was reading art catalogues to understand how it all worked. He learned from taking actions and making shows, he was picked up by local art galleries, had friends and connections who bought his art.

Next, Cattelan got group shows, receiving critics in art magazines, got bought by collectors and ended up on solo shows, biennials and finally acquired by museums. For the art world, the ultimate proof for the value of your work AND the moment the public start knowing the artist.

Cattelan’s banana was sold for $120.000 because he got the approval along the way, from friends, collectors, and finally museums. The Path

Jeff Bezos, once he got success with books, he added related products. Every time Jeff Bezos focussed on the next move, that is related to his current success to grow bigger and bigger until his company passed the 1trillion valuation.

Today, Jeff Bezos with Amazon is one of the most valued people in the world because he got approval along the way from customers, local businesses, big brands and investors. The Path

Myself: I just had a horrible ending of one of my ventures, we lost 1million. Let’s say I needed to start from zero. I love art, how can I build my collection if I have no money. (PS Art shouldn’t be expensive, but that is another post)

I had to change the way I was building startups. My new business will be a success. I was ready to change.

I started with local friends owning a local business, went to local stores which I didn’t have a close relationship with, building up the ranks… until we got deals with Ted Baker, MontBlanc, Nike and Amazon.

The same happened with investors. You can’t have investment from banks if you haven’t got approval along the way. I followed the same scheme, and we raised in a total of 1mm. We are now talking on the level of banks. I’m following the path now


When I saw the news that a banana duck-taped on a wall was sold for $120.000, I was smiling and remembering myself that I understood the secret. I don’t need to be distracted by the fake rules; I need to stay focus on the actual rules of the game to reach my success, yet less attractive for the outside world for the moment.

Do you have your project in mind, art or business? Are you willing to play the game behind closed doors, to follow the path? If yes? You have a big chance you will succeed!

3 points to remember

  1. Don’t look at current successes, learn from the path
  2. Stay laser-focused on taking step by step actions, get the approval along the way
  3. Overnight success often takes ten years.

Tell me your path in the comments below!

Founder of (eCommerce) ●● We The Business Podcast ●● Art Collector ●● Short Video Producer

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