It takes real work to become proficient at something.
Something like beginner lessons can help, but the work put in – quite simply, the hours are viscerally paramount to success.
I want to continue displaying examples of individuals with incredible work ethic within the music business.
Leaders like guitarist Chris Martin, Beyonce or Jay Z.
Jay Z would be consumed with rhymes. His mind constantly running at full speed at all times. Like he says in his song “Moment of Clarity” – anytime you see the homie and his rims spin, just know that my mind is working just like them, the rims that is.
This has led to him being able to improvise songs on the spot, he says he never writes the songs. He listens to the beat, bobs his head to it and lets the lyrics arise from inside him.
A studio session with Jay is mostly the record playing on repeat while he sits in a corner alone running over rhymes.
Then he goes in the booth and spits Grammy-award winning raps.
But none of that came without the work ethic first.
Beyonce has been putting in time since she was 5. Her parents instilled in her a work ethic that has lasted for over 30 years now.
However, she felt her inner circle was holding her down and she parted ways.
Sure, she was a well-established pop star as the lead star in Destiny’s Child, but she really went into another stratosphere when she went along by herself.
She then hooked up with Jigga, and her career blew up.
Her relentless work ethic, and her relationship with Jay catapulted into one of the best-selling artists of all time.
You could add Kanye and Rihanna to that mix as well. All mentees of Jay Z, and all 3 being all time best-selling artists.
Such was the case of Rockefeller as well. At 19, he was a well-to do businessman who was running a decent produce commission business.
He caught a “lucky break” when the Civil War broke out and he was exempt from having to enlist due to his being the head of the house (his father had left the family and women didn’t work back in those days).
He was able to make an absolute killing selling salt to the Union army who then used it to preserve its food on the battlefields.
With his frugal lifestyle (he kept track of EVERY single one of his expenses in a personal ledger book), he was able to save a great deal of money.
He then sought out to invest this money. The oil business seemed promising, but it was very volatile. Prices were rising and dropping very quickly, and it was time consuming to drill and seek oil wells.
A cunning businessman, he realized the real money was not in DRILLING the oil – but in refining it.
He then opened up an oil refinery and set up shop with 3 partners.
A chemist named Andrews, and the Clark brothers.
Through hard work and persistence, Rockefeller’s team set out to build a system that was able to refine at scale, quickly and for low costs.
Through this system of mass refining, they rose to prominence and became the largest oil refinery in Cleveland.
Then they sought out rebate deals with railroads. The arrangement being that Rockefeller would be the sole supplier of oil and he would offer handsome discounts to the railroads.
Today, this is illegal (“conspiracy”) but those times were different.
But the deal made sense. The railroads would save money on the shipment of oil and they were also able to ship much, much more oil by having one sole supplier.
Rockefeller also taught them a way to stack their barrels and thus carry as much as 33% more oil.
So Rockefeller won by becoming one of the largest refineries in the nation, and the railroads won by saving money and making much more money at the same time.
A win-win for them, and a major loss for everyone else.
At this time, a promising businessman by the name of Henry M. Flagler (you know, the guy who single handedly turned Florida from a swamp into one of the largest states in the nation) joined the partnership and gave Rockefeller an idea that would see him become the wealthiest American who ever lived.
They formed the Standard Oil Company and entered the kerosene business.
Selling the safest and best kerosene in the market for the absolute lowest price.
He was able to massively undercut the entire oil industry and soon people started going out of business because they didn’t have the resources or the intelligence to compete.
At this time, The Clark brothers claimed victory and started parading around the nation.
This pissed off Rockefeller. A stoic and conservative businessman who believed in frugality and industry.
His business partners were running around buying expensive houses and yachts and jewelry meanwhile Rockefeller was in the lab continuously pouring money into Research & Development.
Henry M. Flagler gave him the genius idea of buying out his competitors before they went out of business and offering them Standard Oil stock or cash on the spot.
The competitors who chose stock (very few) would go on to become insanely wealthy due to the rapid rise of the stock price. Std Oil Co by today’s standards would be a trillion dollar company.
The New York & New Jersey division of Standard Oil (today – Exxon Mobil) has a market capitalization of over $300 Billion.
Now add to the mix California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and you can do the math yourself.
The competitors who chose cash, later became aware of their error and became very bitter towards Rockefeller – slandering him in the press at every chance they got. Claiming he was a tyrant who put them out of business and other butt-hurt comments.
The smart competitors, would take the stock and open up shop elsewhere only to sell their company again to Rockefeller and further acquiring more stock.
This tactic amused Rockefeller who admired their business sense.
Before he did any of this, he made Henry M. Flagler his COO who smoothened out the business and bought up his partners’ share of the refinery; kicking them out of the business.
They were happy to do so, since it was millions of dollars in cash on the spot, meanwhile Rockefeller would go on to amass $365 Billion in his lifetime.
“Too much flossing / too much Sam Rothstein / I ain’t a bitch but I gotta divorce ‘em / HOV had to get the shallow shit up off him” – Jay Z, Lost One.
Once they were set and ready to go, Rockefeller would become the most prominent businessman through smart business-doing and risk taking.
A large part of his strategy also consisted of Research & Development. He had scientists constantly performing experiments and installed a plant in each and every refinery – including headquarters.